State Senate leader confident government won't shut down

(AP) - Senate Democrats sought to assure NewYorkers and the state's 200,000 employees Sunday night that agovernment shutdown will be averted Monday. "We are not going to shut down government and risk the safetyand livelihood of millions of New Yorkers," said Senate Democraticmajority spokesman Austin Shafran. Shafran said Sunday that an emergency bill to extend funding tokeep government running for another week will be passed Monday asstate budget negotiations continue. The announcement comes after aweekend of closed-door discussions. Gov. David Paterson's emergency bill, which appears to haveforced an end to months of stalled budget negotiations, alsoincludes more than $327 million in full-year cuts to mental healthand social services programs as a way to address a spending planthat is more than two months overdue. Paterson was also optimistic Sunday night that the bill wouldpass. He said he spoke with all legislative leaders Sunday. "I'm not confident of anything until it happens in Albany,"Paterson said, but added that he expects that come Tuesday it willbe "business as usual" in state government. He said a government shutdown would create unthinkable pain forNew Yorkers, locking state workers out of their jobs, limitingservices, and prompting lawsuits. The Legislature has been approving Paterson's weekly emergencyspending bills for 10 weeks. But last week Paterson started includeyearlong cuts, his way of extracting savings and passing pieces ofthe budget. The emergency bills are special in that the Legislaturemust approve them, including anything Paterson adds such asyearlong budget cuts, or trigger a government shutdown. The Assembly, with a super majority of Democrats, has passed thebills easily, but the Senate ran into concerns when two Democratsopposed Paterson's yearlong budget cuts. Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate. DemocraticSen. Ruben Diaz Sr. has repeatedly said he will vote against anymore funding cuts for the poor and needy in his Bronx district. ' Republicans have not committed to breaking from full oppositionto the bills, but clearly softened their stance Saturday. TheRepublicans said they could see providing some votes, now thatPaterson included them in budget talks and adopted some of theirspending cuts. Republicans were also getting pressured from theirstate worker constituents who would be without a paycheck ifgovernment shut down. Senate Republican spokesman John McArdle had no comment Sundaynight.

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