On the eve of the state’s budget deadline, there was more bad news. Because of critical fiscal problems, Gov. David Paterson announced on Tuesday a delay in the school payment of more than $2 billion.
“The only way our state can put its long-term fiscal house in order is through significant, recurring spending reductions,” Paterson explained in a recent statement to the press. “In the short-term, however, plummeting revenue and record deficits have once again forced me to take extraordinary cash-management actions in order to ensure the continued, orderly operation of our government.”
Paterson said the school payment may be issued in June, the actual statutory due date, “assuming sufficient cash is available at that time,” he said.
This action is certain to put another bump in the road as the governor, the Senate and the Assembly struggle to find common ground on the budget and close the more $9 billion deficit.
There appears to be very little time and wiggle room for the state legislature to find an additional $1 billion in cuts.
On Friday, Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, and John L. Sampson, the Senate Democratic leader, convened a public joint conference but failed to make any headway on revenue and spending.
“There are no changes yet,” Silver told the press about the Senate and Assembly budget proposals. “We are now going through a detailed analysis of both with the governor’s office, finding where we have joint agreements, both as to cuts and to revenues, and what further cuts or revenues will fit into a fiscal plan for the state.”
“Unfortunately, the spending plans that the Senate and Assembly have put forward did not include enough cuts to move us toward the goal of a fiscally responsible and sustainable state budget,” Paterson said. “In fact, in light of the state’s worsening revenue situation, additional reductions beyond even those included in my original budget proposal may ultimately be necessary.”
Meanwhile, a number of agencies and institutions around the state are on the sharp end of the stick. One of them, Uth Turn, a program that intervenes productively in the lives of hundreds of at-risk young people, shut down its program on Wednesday.
“I have to deliver the bad news this afternoon,” said the program’s director, the Rev. Dr. C. Vernon Mason. “It’s a sad day, and particularly upsetting that so many of our children will be without our services.”
Paterson had explained earlier that the cuts would be across the board and that everybody will have to make some sacrifices.
“In order to reach a consensus budget agreement, all sides must come together as soon as possible and make the tough choices necessary to reduce spending to more affordable levels,” the governor lamented. “These are the types of difficult decisions that New York’s taxpayers are demanding of their leaders.”
There was also outrage from Carl Korn, a spokesman for the New York State United Teachers, which has filed a lawsuit against the governor for his abrupt announcement of the school payment delay.
Paterson was forced to take a similar action last year when he withheld $750 million in school payments.