Paterson, Legislature clash over late budget
(AP) - New York's Legislature advanced its own budget Sunday, one day before Gov. David Paterson planned to impose a spending plan to end a nearly three-month-old stalemate.
In the process, the Democratic majorities of the Assembly andSenate snubbed the Democratic governor. Paterson had orderedlawmakers into an extraordinary session Sunday shortly after theAssembly and Senate announced their surprise agreement on a $136billion budget. Paterson had ordered them to consider the elementsof his budget they rejected.
On Sunday, the Assembly and Senate each met for four minutes,never taking up Paterson's proposals. They also said he lacked theauthority to order them into extraordinary session again. They useda parliamentary strategy of never technically gaveling out of anextraordinary session several months ago. Lawmakers argue agovernor can't compel them to Albany - as Paterson has done moreany other governor - because the chambers were, technically, alwaysin extraordinary session.
It's the latest indication of the tension in Albany over thebudget.
After negotiations failed, Paterson has been forcing lawmakersto accept pieces of the 2010-11 budget in weekly emergency spendingbills. Lawmakers must accept those bills and all the governor putsin them or shut down government.
On Saturday, a day after Paterson put in deeper cuts to schoolaid and some of his policy goals into what was to be the lastemergency spending bill, the Assembly and Senate fought back.
Senate leader John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, sought todownplay the confrontation.
"I had to do what we had to do as the leader of the Senate tomake sure that we negotiated not from a position of weakness, butfrom a position of strength on the same level playing field andthat's what we're doing ... we took up his challenge. We're goingto get it done."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Paterson gave the twochambers the motivation needed to oppose and block Paterson'semergency spending bill.
"There is no shutdown," Silver said. "Our bill will coverthat."
Silver said the Legislature's budget is necessary to restore$600 million to school aid, compared to the $400 million thegovernor was ready to do in his Monday bill. The restoration isagainst Paterson's January budget proposal in which he called for a$1.4 billion cut to school aid, or about 5 percent, to help contendwith a $9.2 billion deficit.
Paterson tried to claim victory in the Legislature's attempt tooutflank him.
"I'm absolutely happy about that," Paterson said Sunday."I've been asking for that, as you know, for three months, andperhaps the pressure of the emergency appropriations got them tofinally do what they should have done three months ago."
The Legislature rejects Paterson's plan to sell wine in grocerystores to raise revenue and boost the wine industry. TheLegislature also rejects Paterson's plan to "empower" the publicuniversities with more autonomy and the authority to raise tuitionby up to 8 percent annually over the next four years. The Assemblyand Senate also reject Paterson's proposal to cap the growth onlocal property taxes, including school taxes, to about 4 percent ayear to stem some of the nation's highest property taxes.
If the Legislature passes a budget without his support, he couldveto the lawmakers' amendments. An override, however, may bedifficult. Senate Republicans could deny the two-third votes in thechamber with a 32-30 Democratic majority.