Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Paterson Continues To Falter, This Time With Unions

With a nine percent increase in the state's budget passed in Albany, it is (tragically) amusing to watch Paterson lay union workers off of their state jobs. Paterson demanded that workers relinquish a 3% (cost of living?) raise. While non-union workers agreed, union workers did not and they'll be let go because of it. While it may look good that the governor is making some spending cuts, they are in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons.

From The Times-Union:

As a result of killing the raises to the management/confidential employees, the state will save $32 million over two years, and Paterson won't have to reach the 8,900-layoff target he previously set.

Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue said Paterson's actions are outrageous. "What Governor Paterson is saying is that the highest-paid personnel will not be included as part of his cost-cutting moves. He is also saying that the brunt of his reductions will be on the lower paid employees who actually do the work of the state every day."

As outrageous as it was for Paterson to demand these cuts while dramatically increasing the size of the budget, his response to the controversy was even worse:

Paterson released a letter to all state employees about the situation, emphasizing that unions refused "modest concessions" — giving up the raises and lagging paychecks — to share in sacrifices others are making.

"Regrettably, however, our state's public employee unions refused to consider concessions at all," Paterson wrote. "I was left with no alternative but to implement a work force reduction plan." He said he directed all state agency heads to implement their reductions by July 1.

"We cannot eliminate our state's deficit without layoffs," he said.

The problem is that not everyone has been sacrificing in the manner that Paterson claimed would happen. It was with a great effort against the wishes of the governor that a fair tax is now a part of the equation. The seriousness of his tone about making cuts did not pan out with the reality of the budget and the increases within. Paterson should have made sure state employees, especially union employees were taken care of. The whole matter now stinks of hypocrisy and what's worse, Paterson alienated the public employees union in the process.

I know that the state party is giving Paterson until November to straighten up, but I believe that this is the time for Paterson to realize what he's done to his reelection chances and make the smart decision to bow out early. As long as Cuomo follows some good advice, he can sit in Paterson's chair in less than two years time.