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State worker layoffs eyed, leaders meet on late state budget

Governor Paterson
Governor Paterson

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Governor David Paterson is once again considering the layoff of state workers to gain the $250 million in personnel savings included in his recommended budget. This, after a federal judge last week temporarily blocked the one-day-a-week furloughs Paterson was proposing for state employees.

The New York Post is reporting last year's no layoff pledge with the state's public employee unions may not be legally binding.

The administration estimates it would need to lay off 10,000 state employees to achieve $250 million in savings. Paterson said he won't make any decisions until after a May 26th hearing on the furloughs.

"We're talking about laying off (and) furloughing workers," Paterson said Monday. "These conversations only come up in the midst of a recession. But the responsible decisions, the ones that are tough decisions, the ones that were not made in the past, are now the ones that have to be made by this administration."

Union leaders claim the no layoff pledge is ironclad.

Paterson and legislative leaders will meet publicly for the first time in months Tuesday to discuss the budget impasse.

"I think we have a better framework of understanding where we have to be," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, after private talks with Paterson and the Senate leader over the weekend. "Time is of the essence."