Gov. David Paterson just revealed that he’s thinking of moving up his plan to lay off public employees, saying he might start cutting jobs while he’s still in office instead of waiting until the first day of the next governor’s four-year term.

“I have already set up a plan for layoffs in this fiscal year…this coming fiscal year, but what bothers me is – it’s just gnawing at me – I don’t think I should be setting up a layoff plan for the next governor to do,” Paterson told the Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter.

“I mean if you’re going to do layoffs, you should do them yourself,” the governor continued. “And so I’m really considering altering that starting the layoffs sooner.”

Just to be clear, Arbetter broke in and asked: “So, in 2010, you mean, 2010?” Paterson replied: “2010, yes.” He then added:

“We need $250 million in workforce reductions and we have not got, come close to that. That’s why we tried to do the furloughs. The court told us we couldn’t do it. That’s why we tried to get five days extra lag pay in the negotiation and the workers wouldn’t do it. And so, I think our hand is forced here.”

This is a complete reversal from what Paterson said just two weeks ago when his “last resort” layoff plan was first reported. Asked why he had decided to wait until Jan. 1, 2011 to implement that, the governor replied that the MOU he signed with the unions in exchange for their agreement on Tier 5 expires then, he then added:

“I want the next governor to have this option should the next governor choose to use it.”

Paterson said he was going to weigh in with all the gubernatorial hopefuls to ask their opinion on the matter. No word on whether he’s done that.

But one of the candidates, AG Andrew Cuomo, has already signaled his intention to get tough with the public employee unions, which is part of the reason why he selected Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy as his running mate.

UPDATE: Paterson, during a telephone conference with reporters, said he will wait to make a final decision about layoffs until he sees how much savings can be achieved through the latest early retirement incentive. He estimated that will take “probably a couple of weeks.”