Accelify Blog

Gov. Vetoes $600M in School Aid That Legislators Restored (NY)

June 29, 2010

Democratic lawmakers in Albany assembled most of the remaining pieces of a $136 billion state budget Monday after last-minute uncertainty over whether Senate Democrats could muster enough votes to overcome united Republican opposition.

But Gov. David Paterson wielded the veto ax against a key element of it ­- the $600 million the Legislature restored in his $1.4 billion cut to school aid.

Paterson also warned that he will veto all the 6,900 budget additions and pork-barrel projects that the Legislature put in its budget.

He clarified that his veto would not shut down government at midnight as he had threatened earlier if a budget wasn’t in place by then.

“The reality is the day of reckoning in the state has come,” Paterson said. “I take no joy. I never take any joy in vetoing education.”

The legislators put together the budget deal under the shadow of the looming deadline to either pass spending bills or let state government grind to a halt at midnight.

Lawmakers – who missed their April 1 deadline to enact a plan by three months – had earlier refused a final emergency bill from Paterson that would have enacted the rest of his budget proposals.

A big piece of the agreement by Senate and Assembly leaders was the restoration of $600 million in state aid. That funding was aimed at boosting revenue for school districts in the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

As part of their long-awaited budget bills, lawmakers also rejected a 4 percent cap on local property-tax increases; reinstated sales tax on clothing and shoe purchases of less than $110; and approved a controversial shift in how prison populations are counted for election redistricting purposes.

Also, lawmakers put off deciding whether to allow SUNY campuses to raise their own tuition by as much as 8 percent a year.

Much of the 2010-11 budget had already been enacted in piecemeal fashion through emergency spending bills before Paterson and Democratic Legislature leaders began their final standoff on Friday with competing proposals.

Paterson had begun goading lawmakers to enact a budget by incorporating his spending policies for the full fiscal year in his weekly budget extenders.

The tactic forced lawmakers to either accept his plans without changes or consent to a government shutdown – a politically risky move in an election year.
The daunting task for Paterson and state lawmakers this year was to close a $9.2 billion budget deficit.

After the Assembly passed its budget bills Monday, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, said: “The budget we are adopting is a responsible spending plan that makes the tough decisions needed to close the deficit while protecting core services that New Yorkers depend on.”

But Paterson said, “I am disappointed, stunned and frankly chagrined with a Legislature that is either unable or unwilling to address the problems that the people of the state have.”