Gov. Paterson Orders Layoffs of 8,900 NY State Employees


paterson-fat-taxNew York Governor David Paterson ordered 8,900 state jobs slashed yesterday to help close a budget deficit that has ballooned by another $2.2 billion. While some jobs will be lost through attrition, the bulk will be through layoffs that would begin in July, Paterson budget spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said. Paterson aides say the cuts – the first large-scale layoffs since Gov. George Pataki laid off 2,500 workers in 1995-96 – would save the state $481 million.Gordon said the governor was forced to make the move after the state’s major unions refused to agree to concessions – or come up with a savings plan.

“The governor believes this is a truly unfortunate situation,” Gordon said. “It is not where he wanted to end up. He worked very hard to avoid this outcome.”

Gordon said the administration has been talking with the unions about concessions since October.

“We tried numerous times to modify proposals to minimize the potential impact on state employees,” he said. “All offers were rejected.”

Depending on whose numbers one uses, the layoffs make up anywhere between 3.8% and about 6% of the workforce.

Gordon said the governor’s office controls 141,000 full-time jobs. The controller’s office said there are 232,259 state employees. The layoffs are not set in stone, Paterson aides said.

The unions can still agree to negotiate a package of concessions that would avert the need for layoffs, Gordon said.

“We informed them we are taking this action, and they did not provide any alternatives to help us avoid this,” he said.

In December, Paterson asked union members to forgo their 3% raises due to take effect April 1.

The governor also asked employees to agree to a one-week deferral in pay that they would get back when they quit or retire. He was seeking 521 job cuts then.

Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Union, did not address the union’s position, choosing instead to attack Paterson.

“We’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if Gov. Paterson believes putting nearly 9,000 New Yorkers out of work is a good idea, he is out of touch,” Donohue said.

Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien said the cuts surprised him. “We will not agree to any changes in our contract that reduce compensation,” he said.

The layoffs came as Paterson and legislative leaders projected the state would see $2.2 billion less in revenue.

The loss means the state’s whopping budget gap has grown to $16.2 billion.

The budget talks have taken place behind closed doors in a process government watchdog groups say has been the most secretive in memory.

Legislative sources said lawmakers have reached tentative agreement on several issues, including expanding deposit fees to water and sports drinks.

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}