New York state’s long battle over a $135 billion budget took another turn yesterday when the Democratic Gov. David Paterson implored the minority Republican Senate leader for help enacting the next emergency spending bill.
Paterson was responding to reports that two dissident Democrats may trigger a government shutdown by rejecting next week’s temporary spending bill. The Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the state Senate.
“I’m not going to respond to any threats, any thug activity, I’m not going to respond to any kind of blackmail in that respect,” Paterson said at a meeting with legislative leaders.
A shutdown could interrupt state services from health to transportation.
Paterson included $775 million in health care reductions in the bill enacted on Monday, but the strategy has stirred up opposition.
One potential rebel, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Pedro Espada of the Bronx, has said he will not approve the next spending bill. It was unclear whether Republicans would back it.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos criticized Paterson’s “piecemeal” approach and urged him to include the $6 billion to $7 billion of cuts he said Democratic lawmakers have already accepted in next week’s spending bill.