New York Governor David Paterson kept his promise.Â Moments after the state Senate and Assembly passed bills completing the state budget, he began vetoing them.
Paterson issued his first veto in front of reporters, using his signature and a stamp with the word “VETO” on it to wipe out a plan approved by the Legislature to return some state aid to school districts.
â€œRather than act in the interests of the people of New York State,” Paterson said, “they have engaged in legislation that is in self-interest and presented us with a series of bills that have the same gimmicks, chicanery and avoidant conduct that has characterized fiscal management in this state for far too long,â€
Paterson promised Monday to veto every line of spending that he said was out of line with a balanced budget. He will now have to veto more than 6,900 lines of spending. Each line will require his initials.
Paterson threatened to veto the Legislature’s budget plans if they added spending without cutting an equal amount of spending, and if they did not include a new item: a contingency plan for dealing with a threatened cut in federal Medicaid aid, called FMAP.
Paterson said that in recent days, New York’s federal lawmakers had begun to warn that cuts in aid were likely to all of the states.
The Governor ordered legislators to include a contingency plan in their budget for dealing with the loss of up to a billion dollars in FMAP aid.
They did not.
Legislative leaders called their budget balanced.
“It is unfortunate the Governor has chosen to veto our proposal, as we found alternatives to some of the most devastating cuts,” said State Senator Darrel Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent), in an e-mailed statement.
â€œTaxpayers across the state have said: No more taxes or fees and cut spending. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” said Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
The Assembly and Senate budget would have rolled back more than $400 million in cuts to education aid this year. Most school districts receiving the aid would have been forced to use the extra aid to lower taxes, while the state’s poorest districts would have been allowed to use at least some of the money to reverse job and educational program losses.
The Legislature’s budget bills would also have restored money to the Tuition Assistance Program and would have set aside $185 million for what are called “member items”, the appropriations that individual members of the Legislature can make on their own, which detractors commonly call “pork barrel spending”.
The state budget is more than three months late and must cover a deficit of $9 billion that is rising by the day.