There’s no question that the massive size of New York state’s government payroll is one of the biggest contributors to the budget deficit problems the Legislature and governor have been trying to resolve for several years.
To a large degree, we support Gov. David Paterson’s efforts to reduce spending by trying to get the state’s big labor unions to agree to suspend 4 percent raises or lag worker pay. And we’ve been disappointed in the union leaders’ unwillingness to recognize what a large majority of their membership understands — these are times when many people who are not getting raises are simply grateful to still have a job.
Having said all of that, we can’t agree with Paterson’s pledge to carry out massive state worker layoffs by the end of the year. The key to our objection is the timing.
Paterson’s time as governor will be over at the end of this year. He’s not seeking re-election.
But he’s looking to implement a change that will create major disruptions on the final days of his office. Imagine if your boss fired a third of the people in your workplace, then left himself a few days later and told the rest of you to figure it out.
Then there’s the reality of how such a layoff plan would play itself out. The unions have already said Paterson made a binding deal with them to not do layoffs when they agreed to pension changes in the earlier months of his stint as governor. Therefore, it’s a guarantee that these unions will take the state to court, a move that will cost the taxpayers more money and ultimately delay efforts to find a solution.
The last thing state taxpayers need is some hefty legal fees at the end of one governor’s term, only to have the next governor go in a new direction.
We fear that Paterson is at this point just trying to make a big splash in the final days of a largely ineffective administration. He needs to start thinking about how his actions will affect the people who are still around when he’s gone.