Governor Andrew Cuomo warned Wednesday that the state Legislature could force a government shutdown, if members get in the way of his cost-cutting plans.
With the state budget deadline of April 1 looming, the governor released a video message to New Yorkers reiterating his commitment to close a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes.
He said the budget forces the government to cut waste and inefficiency.
"If the Legislature fails to pass a budget on time, the government will not have the funds to operate, and it may be forced to shut down. As your governor, I will make sure that we are prepared for this contingency. I don't want it to happen," said Cuomo. "I will do all that I can do to get the budget accomplished. I'm working very hard to cooperate with the legislature, but in the end, I will not compromise the important work you elected me to do."
While touting his budget agenda in Syracuse, groups like CUNY’s teachers union blocked entrances to the governor’s chambers in the state capitol in protest of the proposed budget cuts.
State police officials say 33 demonstrators were arrested as a result.
"Two to one they favor adding money to education and not adding money to the rich. That’s the message of the people of New York," said CUNY Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen.
Meanwhile, legislative leaders seemed surprised by Cuomo's videotaped warning. They insist progress is steady and a budget could even be passed early.
"If you have power, I don’t think you have to flaunt it. We all understand that the governor has a tremendous amount of power," said State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Republicans are proposing a new prison-closing plan they say would better protect jobs. The plan will include the closure of five or six mostly minimum-security prisons.
Democrats in both houses, meantime, are getting anxious about the governor’s comments Tuesday that while he would like to see rent laws renewed and strengthened in the budget, it likely won’t happen.
“This is a make or break issue," said State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
Unwilling to repeat past mistakes, Democrats say the senate GOP’s plan to pass the rent laws after the budget without strengthening them is not good enough.
"What we got out of it was a terrible watering down of rent protections and we’ve been paying for it ever since," said State Assemblyman Jerry Dinowitz.
To see the governor's entire videotaped message, visit governor.ny.gov.