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Aides to Gov. David Paterson deliver stacks of veotes to the legislature. Photo: Karen DeWitt
Aides to Gov. David Paterson deliver stacks of veotes to the legislature. Photo: Karen DeWitt

New York gets a look at Governor's vetoes?all 6,681

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Governor David Paterson vetoed nearly 6,700 spending proposals passed last week by the state legislature. As Karen DeWitt reports, the Governor's actions slashed more than $500 million from the state budget.

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

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Several aides to the governor trudged up and down the stairs in the Capitol, their arms laden with stacks of documents two feet high as they delivered the veto messages to the Senate and Assembly. The governor had spent 7 hours over a two-day period personally initialing or signing every single veto--and even provided a live web stream. Morgan Hook, Paterson's communications director, says the dramatic signing was not a negotiating tactic.

"He is not negotiating on these vetoes," said Hook. "They have been delivered, at this point, to the legislature."

The $525 million in vetoes includes $419 million in school aid, several million in additional funding to colleges, universities and student aid programs, and numerous individual member items requested by state lawmakers for their districts. Among them are money for museums, libraries and civic organizations. 

Paterson still wants the legislature to approve a contingency plan if some federal Medicaid monies, known as FMAP, don't materialize. He also hopes for a new plan for setting tuition at SUNY and CUNY and a property tax cap. His spokesman says the legislature should act on those items because they represent a responsible fiscal choice, not in the hopes of receiving some member items.

The Senate also needs to finish the final budget bill before the spending plan can be declared complete. No time has been set for a return. Until then, state lawmakers will not receive their paychecks which have been withheld since the budget deadline was missed on April 1.  Hook says that while the governor does not yet plan to call a special session to force the Senate to complete its work, he may do so in the future.

Leaders of the legislature say they are "disappointed." Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a statement says the governor "chose to renege on funding commitments" for groups that care for the children, elderly and crime victims and did not spare the schools from "devastating cuts."    

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