Silver And Sampson Go Their Own Way (Updated)
Fed up with Gov. David Paterson’s “my way or the highway” approach to the budget battle, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson have forged a two-man alliance and will pass their own budget bills on Monday.
The legislative leaders just released a joint statement, which originated from Silver’s office.
The speaker has been a lot clearer in his anti-Paterson sentiment of late than Sampson, who was insisting as recently as last night that the governor really truly wants a three-way deal – although that’s becoming increasingly harder to believe.
“We recognize that New York faces extraordinary fiscal challenges, and that this budget will include billions in cuts,” Silver said on Friday.
“However, we are committed to sparing our schools from the most devastating cuts and ensuring that our higher education system remains accessible to all New Yorkers.”
“We are also committed to acting responsibly with Senate and the Governor to complete this process and to continue the operations of government.”
(Note that “on Friday” line. Today is Shabbos, and so Silver is out-of-pocket and therefore couldn’t give a quote. It also means this was a done deal yesterday – more on that in a minute).
“Government works best when we are working together. The budget bills introduced by the Legislature make the smart cuts and tough choices we need to give New Yorkers a budget they can afford,” Sampson said.
“We will continue negotiations, meet our obligation, and pass a fair budget that keeps New York working.”
Late last night (right before midnight, actually, which is just over four hours after Sampson and Silver had their fruitless meeting with the governor at his Manhattan office) four budget bills were quietly introduced in Albany. (Two appropriations bills and two language bills).
They are amended versions of bills Paterson sent to the Legislature way back in January, sources confirm.
The bills cover education, restoring $600 million of Paterson’s proposed $1.4 billion in cuts; higher ed, and human services. All told, the bills are worth $57.9 billion.
Details follow at the end of this post.
Since they were introduced last night, the bills will be aged and ready to pass by Monday – the same day the next round of extender bills would theoretically have to be passed to avert a government shutdown.
However, what’s actually IN those extenders is anyone’s guess.
Yes, Budget Director Robert Megna briefed the press yesterday, but the governor has yet to send any actual bill copy to the Legislature.
And, as is so often the case in Albany (and everywhere, really), the devil is in the details.
The governor, who won yesterday’s news cycle in a big way, forcing the legislative leaders to come to him to negotiate, since he had departed Albany the day before, clearly has no interest in providing lawmakers with his bills until the very last moment.
By doing this, Silver and Sampson are trying to push the responsibility for a government shutdown – should it come to that – back onto Paterson. If he doesn’t sign these bills or vetoes them outright, they will be able to point the finger of blame at him.
UPDATE: I am reminded by a legislative source that the governor cannot veto anything he proposed in his own budget. If both houses pass portions of his plan to the letter, it automatically becomes law.
He can, however, veto anything they added in – like education restorations.
Of course, this is a gamble, since the editorial pages will likely side with the governor and slam the Legislature for refusing to pass his extender, which (according to Megna, at least), includes such unpalatable (to lawmakers) measures as a tax cap, wine in grocery stores and the SUNY tuition proposal.
It should be noted that if vetoes do come, the Assembly has a veto-proof majority and could override likely with no problem. The Senate on the other hand, is almost certain to be unable to do that.
It takes a two-thirds vote of the house to override, and with just 32 Democrats and a GOP conference not playing ball, Sampson doesn’t have the votes.
Details on the two-way deal:
- $600 million – including $177 million for New York City – of the Governor’s $1.4 billion in devastating school aid cuts is restored, providing direct classroom support and property tax relief to working families throughout New York State.
- To keep higher education affordable, the Legislature restores the Governor’s devastating tuition assistance cuts ($49 million restoration) and community college cuts ($56 million restoration). The Legislature remains open to a responsible discussion with the Governor on tuition and tuition assistance.
- All work on the state budget relating to health care, mental hygiene, human services and housing, education and the arts is completed with this legislation. The bills provide for the operations of 26 additional state agencies that had not been covered in legislation approved over the past two weeks. Most of the Governor’s cuts in this area have been accepted – per Assembly/Senate/Executive agreement earlier in the week.
- Funding for adult homeless shelters was completely restored, a $36 million restoration of the Governor’s proposed cut.
- This legislation includes health and mental health spending of $7 billion. In addition to already approved budget legislation, total 2010-11 spending authorization for health and mental health would be $68 billion.
- This legislation includes education, higher education and human services spending of $57.9 billion . In addition to already approved budget legislation, total 2010-11 spending authorization for education, higher education and human services would be $62 billion.
- Passage of these bills in the Assembly and Senate on Monday will provide for the operations of state government and prevent any state shutdown.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on June 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm, and is filed under Albany, Assembly, David Paterson, John Sampson, Sheldon Silver, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|