The long range weather forecast for the weekend is promising (
particularly for Friday's twilight card - I stand corrected, sorry), and it might be good idea to get your fix in at Belmont while you can. With Governor Paterson apparently intent on inserting any unresolved aspects of his plan to close the $9.2 billion deficit into next week's emergency appropriations bill, who knows what post time next Wednesday will bring? Should there be no prior agreement, and the budget extender fails to pass, the state government would shut down, and racing in the state along with it.
It's been the threat of a government shutdown that would result from a rejection of the extenders that has enabled Paterson to push through specific deficit remedies; measures such as healthcare cuts (though ones that the legislature had already agreed to) and a new $1.60 per pack cigarette tax, not to mention the $25 million loan that kept NYRA going, at least up to now. The governor has made it clear he has no plans to spend Independence Day in Albany.
“Let me just say, that budget is going to get passed on Monday,” Paterson said. “I heard people talk about being here July 4th. If they’d like to be here July 4th, they can come by the mansion. We have a nice fireworks demonstration every year, they can come and watch it. But there will be no discussion of budget on July 4th because it will have already been addressed on June 28th.” [Daily Politics]Paterson may insert his sugary soda tax that the legislature has, for some reason, remained steadfast in opposition; a tax on hospitals and wine in grocery stores are other possibilities; as is a compromise proposal on the property tax cap that the Senate Democrats desperately want to present to voters come November. "He can do whatever he wants," a Paterson source said. "He's got a menu of choices." [NY Daily News]
The governor has surely moved significantly up in class as far as his stature goes; his strategy of including budget measures in the emergency bills is an innovative and bold one which has given him the upper hand over the intransigent legislature. He has earned praise even from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who, as I've mentioned before, certainly has nothing to gain politically by expressing support for a governor still considered to be an unpopular one, despite a surge of positive editorials in papers that had previously skewered him unmercifully. We've read or heard nothing about the scandals that threatened to force the governor from office [UPDATE: well, until now....leave it to the Times]; and not just because the investigations are moving glacially.
I have to say here that I feel somewhat vindicated for (mostly) standing by Paterson all along. No, I was not right about him recovering in the polls. And while I could blame the economic circumstances and the SNL skits (and I'll always believe that the latter inflicted mortal damage that has been generally underestimated), the truth is that, in the end, he has nobody to blame but himself. For a smart guy, he's certainly displayed some horrible - possibly even criminal - judgment, made flawed decisions, seemed to have just a slight propensity to totally contradict himself, and I was surely ready to throw him overboard over has handling of the Aqueduct fiasco. But I did maintain that he was capable, and capable of being competent, and pointed out that he was the one sounding the alarm on the budget from the very beginning. Too bad he didn't step up and take charge sooner, but there was little to be done with his own party's fractious and slim Senate majority, and the refusal of the Republicans to govern. Those legislators don't seem quite so smug or powerful at this stage of the game, 85 days after the budget was due.