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Gov calls their bluff

March 25, 2009 - John Stack


So, Governor Paterson has pulled out one of his trump cards. He’s planning on cutting 8,900 of the state workers from the payroll. Is Gov Paterson the only person in State government, or affected by state government, aware of this gigantic financial crisis New York is facing? As I’ve wrote before, the local school teacher’s union (aided and abetted by the school board) don’t seem to think they have to tighten their belts (and no, paying $500 more a year to insurance is barely tight beltening). Now, it seems like both PEF and CSEA (two of the largest unions in New York – I’m represented by PEF) also don’t seem to be able to read the news. To quote CSEA president ‘If governor Paterson really believes putting 9,000 New Yorkers out of work, he really is out of touch with Main St’. This from one of the leaders who refused to even consider any of Paterson’s offers: defer a week’s pay until retirement (lag pay), eliminate 3 percent raises for this year in the contract, r reduce the amount NY pays into health insurance (maybe the teacher’s union can look into that). I had all ready planned on the lag pay, expecting my income to be lower from April through June (10 weeks, 5 pay periods).

            Ken Brynien, the PEF president showed a seeming complete lack of understanding of the budget deficit and NY politics. He claims ‘There is absolutely no need to do layoffs’. If his counterpart thinks Paterson is out of touch with Main Street, maybe someone needs to let these guys know that Main Street thinks eliminating 8,900  jobs is a good start. Did these 2 leaders really just think the be-all end-all solution was to just tax the rich to the tune of $16 billion? Did they think that’s what the Assembly and Senate were going to agree upon?

            This cutting of the workforce is almost just a drop in the bucket, as it is to save only less than ½  billion  dollars over 2 years, and this year’s deficit is 32 times that amount. Paterson has proposed a slew of possibilities to make up the budget deficit. Many are cuts in spending, and others are increases in taxes/user fees. All of these seemed to bother some constituent group, and seemingly none feel they should be ‘targeted’. Senate democrats now want to reinstitute the STAR rebate program! (the regular STAR program is staying in effect). This will cost the State around $1.4 billion. Senate democrats claim this is a popular program and that people are counting on it. Popular?! Getting money for nothing is always popular! But we can’t afford it! I wasn’t counting on it. I’ll bet most people weren’t actually counting on it. I assumed immediately this would be one of the first things jettisoned from the budget. Most people recognize that it is really just a political ploy, foisted upon the voters just before elections the last 2 years. I really don’t think those in the Saranac Lake of Lake Placid School districts will really be hit hard with this being eliminated, as we got all of about 100 bucks in 2007 and something like $200 in 2008. Just to cove school raises and health insurance, my school bill will go up even more than that this year!

            Finally, to back on topic: The unions are even crying foul because they say Paterson never let them know he was holding this layoff ‘ace in the hole’. They claim they never knew that because they refused to budge on any items whatsoever, that somehow Gov Paterson would actually do something about it. Did these guys just move to New York this year and never heard about politics before?


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