WXXI Local Stories
Tue October 20, 2009
Paterson's Warnings Unheeded so Far
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York – Governor David Paterson has been on a media blitz, trying to convince New Yorkers that the state budget must be cut immediately, in order to prevent New York from running out of money. So far, though, state residents are not on board with the governor's plan.
In the days since he laid out a plan to cut $5 billion dollars from the state budget over the next two years, Governor David Paterson has been hitting the airwaves in New York State and on national programs, warning that the state will run out of money soon, if nothing's done. The governor spoke on two public radio stations Tuesday. On WNYC's the Brian Lehrer Show, Paterson said there are nearly $6 billion dollars in payments to schools, local governments and other entities due in mid December, and he doesn't have enough cash to pay them all.
"This is a very serious situation that people aren't understanding," Paterson said.
And on WXXI's 1370 Connection, Paterson warned that no one should be led into a false sense of security over statements from the Federal Reserve chairman that the recession is over.
"We're going to have to tighten our belts until we see real change," said Paterson. "Not Ben Bernanke changes."
So far, the governor's campaign of blunt talk about the budget is not resonating with New Yorkers. A Siena College poll conducted both before and after Paterson released his plan, shows that the majority don't support either cuts to schools and health care, as the governor has proposed, or new taxes, says Siena's Steve Greenberg.
"The governor's in a political lose- lose, because to do the right thing fiscally is bad strategic policy, politically," Greenberg said.
Greenberg says any governor would suffer in popularity during a severe recession, and past Governors, including Mario Cuomo and George Pataki, have during tight fiscal times. But he says the difference is, Paterson's standing was already dipping even before the recession fully hit, and he describes the governor's position as being in an "electoral cellar".
"We are now at a point where 72% of voters say they would prefer someone else over David Paterson to elect as governor next year," said Greenberg.
The governor says he intends to hold a special legislative session on October 28th to deal with the deficit. So far, Paterson's message does not seem to be clicking with legislators, either. Democrats in the State Senate say they want to hold several weeks of hearings on the budget plans, first.