Shades of Senate coup: Three may vote no on budget

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York senator who set off a debilitating coup in the chamber a year ago said Tuesday he is willing to vote against any more emergency spending bills even though that could likely force a shutdown of state government.

Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., the majority leader, was joined by Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos in saying they would be willing to block weekly emergency spending bills with permanent year-round budget cuts that the Paterson administration plans to introduce to the Legislature, beginning Monday.

Espada said it no longer matters if government is shut down after living on bare-bones emergency spending for 10 weeks and with Paterson trying to force a state budget of his own design.

“This eviscerates the legislative branch if we don’t stand up,” Espada said. “I think if we give into this form of blackmail, it would be worse than the shut down of government.”

The state has long passed its April 1 budget deadline and is operating with a $9.2 billion shortfall.

With the budget crisis, Gov. David Paterson has begun including permanent spending cuts in line with his proposed executive budget in the short-term spending bills. The Legislature must by law adopt the bills in whole, or reject them and halt government services. That would gradually close parks and agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, and halt critical aid to schools and hospitals.

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