No Rush For Special Session
October 21st, 2009

Legislative leaders made it clear to Gov. David Paterson at a leaders meeting this morning that they are skittish about proposed cuts to education and health care.

Paterson previously said he wanted the legislature back in special session to consider his deficit reduction package on Oct. 28 but now it seems he is willing to wait a bit longer. A special session could now take place in the next two weeks.

Paterson warned of the financial peril the state faces if the deficit is not reduced by December and asked to address a joint session of the legislature at some future date.

“We are on board with you,” Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson told Paterson but insisted he wanted to make sure the people of New York state are “on board” with the cuts that need to be made. He was referring to the public hearings his conference has scheduled throughout the state this month.

“We have to act quickly,” said Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, adding that “Hearings are not going to improve cash flow.”

At one point Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver got into a heated back and forth about possible cuts. Skelos accused Silver of wanting to push off making serious cuts until next year. The exchange escalated until Paterson interrupted them to give Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb a chance to speak.

Kolb said he felt that the “Entire state is not sharing the pain on an equitable basis.” Kolb said before making major cuts to education and health care the state should look at reducing the size of state government.

Leaders agreed that taxes and fees should not be used to plug the budget gap. Paterson took the opportunity to refute the idea that he will reintroduce the soda tax he proposed in last year’s budget that was soundly rejected by legislators. Paterson said he made the comment that he would again push the tax only after hearing that Assemblyman Hakeen Jeffries supports the idea as a way to plug the budget deficit.

By on October 21, 2009, 11:41 am
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