WHO: New York Gov. David Paterson
WHAT: The state could run out of money before Christmas if the Legislature doesn’t cut its 2009-10 budget by $3.2 billion now, the governor told recalcitrant lawmakers in an unusual joint session. Paterson said New York’s huge budget deficit — nearly $50 billion during the next 3½ years — necessitates prompt cuts ranging from $500 million in general department spending to more than $1 billion in aid already committed to school districts and hospitals.
THE REACTION: State Senate Democrats, with their shaky 32-30 hold on the upper house, are terrified about making school and hospital cuts that could increase local property taxes and cause many incumbents to lose re-election. Many legislators appear to be stalling about even taking part in next week’s special deficit session called by Paterson.
WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: It’s hard to believe, but New York is acting even more dysfunctional than California. At least during our state’s fiscal standoff, lawmakers recognized that spending cuts were necessary — the battle was about what to cut. New York legislators haven’t even reached that level, as their state is weeks away from going broke.