Governor Paterson Dares Legislature to Shut Down Government

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, iStockphoto

As the state legislature has worked toward completing an overdue budget bill for the past month and counting, Governor Paterson has been sending them emergency budget extenders that keep the government operating for a week or two at a time. He's also tried to get them to pass a one-day-a-week furlough (no work, no pay) for 100,000 state employees, which would save the state $30 million a week, but so far, they've ignored it. But they can't anymore. Paterson announced today his intention to include the furlough in the next emergency budget extender.

Lawmakers now face a pretty bleak pair of options: pass the furlough — which the state worker unions obviously despise, and plan to sue over — or shut down government. State Senate Conference Leader John Sampson, for one, says he'll swallow the furlough if it means keeping the government running. Of course, as Sheldon Silver noted today, a third option would be passing an actual budget. But let's not talk crazy.

Paterson will put furlough in next budget extender [Capitol Confidential/Times Union]
Paterson Offers Choice: Furloughs or Shutdown [City Room/NYT]