Last night, the State Assembly and Senate voted to approve a budget that would restore hundreds of millions to education and health care, but then hours later, Governor Paterson said he'd veto every single one of the over 6,900 items. According to the Times Union, "The governor will have to initial every rejected item personally -- with no mechanical help. At the rate of one line-item veto every five seconds, that means the governor will have to spend almost 10 hours straight on the project -- and that's without bathroom or meal breaks. Paterson has 10 days to complete the project." Paterson's spokesman was able to joke, "We'll set up a webcam," while the governor himself said, "If I start now, I figure I should be finished before I leave office."
Paterson vetoed $419 million in education funding last night. He opposes the Legislature's budget because he feels it's just a "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"—while the cuts to schools and health care are difficult, the state is struggling with a $9.2 billion deficit. The Assembly and Senate's budget would fund schools with tax increases. Even gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind Paterson, saying, "I think that’s exactly the wrong thing for this state at this time... Restoring the cuts with additional taxation is a mistake."
The Daily News reports that Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), who heads the Senate Finance Committee, admitted he didn't know what the Assembly and Senate budget's total was, prompting a Republican Senator to say, "If you don't know the total amount of spending, how do you know this budget is balanced?" And when Paterson sent lawmakers his budget, they refused to accept it, leaving it on the floor and outside offices.
Paterson is also upset that the Legislature didn't create a budget in case the state doesn't receive $1 billion in Medicaid funding from the federal government, which is a possibility since other states have been hurt by that. Cuomo also agrees with Paterson on that count.
The Assembly and Senate budget does not cap property taxes at 4% (Paterson's does), does not have a plan to sell wine in grocery stores, and does not allow CUNY and SUNY schools to set their tuitions. But it looks like both sides agree to cut tax deductions for those making $10 million or more—it's referred to as the "Bloomberg penalty."
The state budget was due on April 1. The Times reports that Legislature is expected to override Paterson's veto, "as early as" today.