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by Jay Gallagher

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lawmakers can't wiggle out of furlough vote

How can you vote for a bill on the one hand but express displeasure with it on the other?

The state Senate took a shot at it today.

Without dissent, it approved a resolution asking Gov. David Paterson to withdraw a bill that would pay for the operations of state government for the next week and replace it with another one that would do almost the same thing as the bill that is now before them.

The key difference: the existing bill calls for a one-day-a-week unpaid furlough for 100,000 state workers until a new state budget (which was supposed to be adopted by April 1) is finally passed. The new bill, the senators hope, would delete the furlough provision.

The senators made this maneuver because they are between a rock - approving the furlough - and a hard place - shutting down state government.

“No one expects us to close down state government,’’ said Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, who represents Albany County, which has the thickest concentration of public workers in New York. He sponsored the amendment. “It would cause chaos.’’

That means that both the Assembly and Senate will adopt some time this evening the budget bill with the furloughs included, which Paterson says will save $30 million a week and help the state close its $9.2 billion budget hole.

But Breslin and the other senators will be able to tell the state workers that they at least tried a new way for another solution that didn’t include a furlough.

Paterson had no immediate comment, but has said he has no intention of withdrawing his furlough plan.

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