Gov. Paterson Counters Educators' Suit, Says He Has the Right to Delay Payment and Plaintiffs "Have No Standing"

patersonspeaksright.jpgIn the true holiday spirit, Governor Paterson is being sued by a coalition of educators who say his fiat delay of disbursement of educational funds -- which he says it necessary because the state is broke -- is unconstitutional, and seek an injunction to get the state to pay up. Yesterday Paterson responded with his own filing.

It refers to the "unprecedented revenue crisis" in New York, and claims that "if the State actually were to run out of cash, the consequences would be chaotic and potentially devastating" -- among these consequences, a downgraded credit rating...

The half-loaf budget cuts Albany enacted this month still left "a significant risk" that the State would run out of funds. The sectors that had their payments delayed were "selected in order to minimize disruption," and "will be paid as soon as the [Budget] Director determines that such payment will not put the State at risk of not fulfilling other obligations."

Paterson's lawyers say the court should therefore not consider "lightly" granting the injunction, especially as the plaintiffs do not suffer the "extraordinary circumstances" needed to demand one -- in other words, they don't really need the money that badly. Also, they claim the plaintiffs lack standing to seek such an injunction.

And anyway, Paterson and his Budget Office had the right to stop payment, as "the Executive Has Cash Management Authority" and "no argument exists that the Governor and the Budget Director usurped the Legislature's function..."

In a press conference today, Paterson said it's his "best assessment" that the funds will be available to the schools et alia in January, and that he wasn't backing off. Also, he said the state is short of Medicaid funds by another $200 million "that we didn't know about a couple of weeks ago."

The legal papers were reportedly prepared by the Attorney General's office, which is sort of funny, as Andrew Cuomo was not helpful to the Governor during his last power grab, the installation of a Lieutenant Governor.


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