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Paterson eyes layoffs next January to help balance budget

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By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – Governor David Paterson says he's putting together a plan that would lay off thousands of state government workers at the beginning of next year to help balance the state budget.

January 1st marks the expiration of the no-layoffs pledge Paterson gave public employee unions last year in exchange for an agreement to reduce pension costs. It would also be the day he leaves office. A final decision on layoffs would fall to his successor.

Paterson says this year's budget needs to realize $250 million in workforce savings.

"The reality is right now it takes a long period of time to schedule the layoffs," Paterson said. "I want this ready to go for the next governor."

Paterson has been calling for concessions from the unions. He lost a court battle last week over cost cutting that included furloughs.

Stephen Madarasz, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, said the $250 million in payroll savings sought by Paterson represents only a fraction of the deficit. He called Tuesday's announcement "more counterproductive rhetoric."