Published by
Arts News

NY Lawmakers Avoid State Government Shutdown

Email a Friend

Lawmakers have averted a potential state government shutdown, passing Gov. David Paterson's emergency extension bill. It will allow New York to continue operating without a budget.

Senate Republicans said they wouldn't allow Democrats to shut down state government and provided the votes needed to pass the measure.

Democrats almost all supported the extender, as they have for the last 10 weeks. Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx voted against the bill, as he had pledged he would.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am not voting for any more cuts. Not this week, not next week, not from now until we get a budget," Diaz said.

Paterson included in the bill $327 million in cuts to mental health and public assistance programs.

Schenectady Republican Hugh Farley said he was voting yes because many of his constituents are government workers who would have been directly affected by a shutdown. But he had a warning for his colleagues.

"I'll tell you one thing -- don't count on me to vote on any more extenders," he said. "It's time to pass a budget."

Also voting yes were Republicans Charles Fuschillo of Long Island and Saratoga's Roy McDonald, who chastised Democrats for what he called using fear to get the extender through.

Paterson met privately with Democratic legislative leaders Monday. And the senate and assembly leaders said they felt progress was being made on a total budget agreement.

But Paterson, in an interview with public radio after the meeting, says lawmakers still are not ready to make the sacrifices that he says are needed to close the $9.2 billion deficit.

"There is talk about everything around here except cuts," Paterson said. "We're close to a deal, we'll be borrowing, we might be taxing, we might be doing a whole lot of things. When we start talking about revenue reductions, when peoples' sacred cows get put on the table, as opposed to saying 'no' to everything, then I'll say, 'we're making progress.'"

The governor says he may include the most controversial portions of his budget, school aid cuts and new taxes on cigarettes and soda, in future weekly extenders. But Paterson says he'd prefer an agreement with the legislature on the total budget instead.