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Governor David Paterson (NYS)
Governor David Paterson (NYS)

Paterson proceeds with lay offs

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Governor David Paterson, who has entered his final 100 days in office, says he'll lay off 2000 state workers. As Karen DeWitt reports, he has not ruled out the possibility of calling a special session of the legislature to cap property taxes.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Governor Paterson has less than three months left in office, but he says he’s still not finished with governing yet. He’s proceeding with a lay off plan that will eliminate 2000 state jobs.

“We would maybe execute the lay offs as early as November 15th”, Paterson said.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s budget office says the total target numbers for job eliminations in each agency are still being finalized.

State worker unions have threatened to take the governor to court if he follows through with his plans. They cite a memo signed by the Paterson Administration and union leaders that promised no lay offs in calendar year 2010, in exchange for the unions’ agreement to a new pension tier for new hires that provides fewer benefits.

Paterson also says he’s not giving up on the idea of a special legislative session before Election Day to try to get the State Assembly to approve a property tax cap. The governor says he believes if the bill were put on the floor, it would be approved.

“So the issue is, why it’s not being put on the floor,” said Paterson.

The governor wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, asking him to commit to approving a tax cap in 2011, when there will be a new governor. Paterson says in exchange, he would not call a special session on the property tax cap before elections. A spokesman for the Speaker, Bill Wise, says Silver is not committing to a vote on a property tax cap at any point, and says members of the Assembly’s Democratic conference would also like to consider other options, like a property tax circuit breaker.

The State Senate has already approved a property tax cap.

The governor says he will call the legislature back before the end of the year to take care of other unfinished business, including, the distribution of federal stimulus funds for schools, and Senate confirmation of some late administration appointments.

Paterson says he’s willing to share information about the government with the campaigns of both Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino, as one of the two men is likely to be the next governor.

But Paterson, who was attending an announcement of a new website to aid businesses, could not resist taking a shot at Paladino. Paladino, a Buffalo real estate developer, has been the recipient of a number of economic development tax breaks under New York’s Empire Zone program.  Paterson was asked whether he thought the next governor would continue the new program, aimed at promoting tax breaks for businesses.

“If Attorney General Cuomo becomes governor, I’m very sure that he will keep it,” said Paterson. “And If Carl Paladino becomes governor I’m sure he’ll keep it because it tells you how to get tax credits.”

A Siena college poll out Tuesday finds Paladino trailing Cuomo by 24 points, at 56% to 32%.

Paterson, whose term ends December 31st , says he’s been too busy governing to consider what he’ll do next when his time in office ends.

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