The $3 Billion Question
September 23rd, 2009

Gov. David Paterson told legislative leaders this morning that he thinks the budget gap will soon grow from an estimated $2.1 billion to $3 billion. That is not a hard number,” Paterson said. “That is basically my estimate. Itmay not be as grave as what I just described. It may be worse.”

Paterson wants the legislature to reconvene as soon as possible for a special session to address the funding gap. Paterson noted that legislators did not seem interested in returning to deal with the budget gap earlier this year.

Leaders took their turns speaking about the deficit:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his conference is ready to make “tough choices.”

Sen. John Sampsonsaid his conference isn’t interested in “government by guesswork.”

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos said that his conference’s suggestions had been dismissed during budget talks earlier this year.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said that his conference had been ready to address the gap all Summer.

Paterson then tried to gauge whether the leaders could agree on the size of the deficit. Silver and Kolb indicated they could. Sampson and Skelos were less forthcoming.

It was agreed, however, that Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch should oversee a meeting of budget staffs in an effort to come to a consensus on how to cut the budget before calling the legislature back into session.

Paterson thanked the leaders for understanding the “crisis” New York faces. However, he remained cautious, noting he hoped that all sides could rise about politics to get results. He added that he hoped rumors he had heard that friction in the Senate could lead to a stalemate over spending cuts were untrue.

Silver told Paterson he thought the process should be started one step at a time, while gauging whether there would be a sincere effort to work together to address the escalating funding gap or whether this effort deteriorate into politics as usual.

By on September 23, 2009, 10:30 am
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