Monday, October 05, 2009

NY Lt. Gov. Clashing With Gov. Paterson Over Budget Cuts

Governor David Paterson can't win, even when he gets the Court of Appeals to rule on his behalf. The court recently ruled that he had the right to appoint a Lieutenant Governor under state law. It's not a ruling I can agree with, but they are paid to make the decision, so Paterson's choice of Richard Ravitch is the legitimate and legal Lieutenant Governor.

The problem now is that Ravitch is slamming Paterson for not doing more to slash the state budget, which is already hemorrhaging $3 billion in the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget.
Ravitch, allied with state Budget Director Robert Megna, wants the governor to lay out specific plans for slashing the projected $3 billion deficit, but Paterson is resisting for fear that the sure-to-be-unpopular cuts would drive down his in-the-basement popularity even further, administration insiders said.
Richard Ravitch
Richard Ravitch

The insiders described Ravitch, whose controversial appointment by Paterson was challenged by lawmakers before being sanctioned in a 4-3 vote by the Court of Appeals last month, as increasingly frustrated over his inability to get the governor to focus on the state's worsening fiscal situation.

"Ravitch wants more time to get to the governor, to talk to him about what should be done, and he's not been able to get it. He's being blocked," said an administration source.

"The governor is avoiding Ravitch, doing a lot of other things, like going to California to hang out with the governor there," the source continued, referring to Paterson's trip late last week for an event with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and for what is believed to have been at least one political fund-raiser.

Paterson's refusal to take a tough stand on slashing the budget is being blamed on his secretary and chief of staff, Lawrence Schwartz, a longtime political operative and former top aide to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano.

A source close to Paterson described Schwartz's decision-making style as, "politics first, government second."
Paterson has been over his head as governor and his political choices have been awful, and he's made all kinds of enemies in a very short time, antagonizing Democrat party leaders from President Obama on down. He's now ignoring the key reason that New York is in dire fiscal shape - a state budget that the state cannot afford. State spending rose at a time when revenues fell sharply, and the state isn't likely to see Wall Street recover its record profits (and hence tax receipts) anytime soon. That means we're talking a structural deficit that will not be solved unless receipts and expenditures are brought into line with each other.

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