Assemblymember Cahillís Statement on the Governorís Decision to Withhold State Payments from Schools and Local Governments

December 14, 2009

In response to Governor David Patersonís unilateral decision to with hold state aid to school districts and local governments Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D, Ulster/Dutchess) issued the following statement:

ďI strongly disagree with Governor Patersonís decision to unilaterally withhold $750 million in scheduled aid from our school districts and local governments. A little over a week ago the Legislature passed a responsible $2.7 billion dollar deficit reduction plan that made real, recurring and significant spending cuts designed to keep the stateís finances on track.

We acted in a way that was consistent with the concerns of educators and did not subject schools to mid-year cuts. We cut dramatically in other areas and advanced Federal assistance to avoid harming state school aid. The Governor approved the legislation, signed it and it is being implemented.

I respect the authority of the Governor to manage our state's cash flow. If the Governor is taking these drastic steps for that reason, he should be clear about that. If it is for other reasons, the Governor is acting outside his authority and should immediately reverse course. By law, the Governor is required to meet the spending commitments set forth in the 2009-2010 budget statute; this includes making our school districts and local governments whole. Governor Paterson does not have the authority to circumvent the legislative process to make any permanent cuts beyond those outlined in the law.

If the Governor does not agree that the spending cuts he negotiated with the Legislature are sufficient then he should not have signed the bill. I would urge the Governor to reconsider this decision and move to consult the Legislature and the people of New York on any additional budget adjustments deemed necessary to help maintain the stateís financial footing.Ē