Furlough of NY State workers quashed by high court

David Paterson

Governor Paterson has been blocked from fixing a budget crisis. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A recent attempt by New York State Governor David Paterson to furlough state employees has been squashed by a Federal judge after lawsuits were filed against the furloughs. New York State is in the middle of a serious budget crunch and is running the risk of insolvency.  Governor Paterson and legislators reluctantly agreed to put 100,000 state employees on a one-day furlough. It would only have cost each employee one day’s pay, far less than the amount of the average payday loan.

Paterson ordered furlough to ease budget

Currently, New York State is staring down the barrel of a $9 billion budget shortfall.  This does not put the burden squarely on those that would have gone on furlough, but $9 billion is not an amount most state governments have in petty cash. Serious cuts were needed, and this was one of the solutions that David Paterson, as well as the New York State legislature, thought could help ease the burden.

Here comes the Judge

Several unions filed restraining orders against the furloughs after they were announced. New York will run out of money by summer if drastic cuts aren’t made.  U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn issued a restraining order against Paterson ordering the furlough, though it would have only lasted one day. He said the furlough would do more harm than good. Legislators also opposed the furlough, but grudgingly passed it. Part of the budget cuts would have included canceling a scheduled raise, which union leaders are not willing to give up, according to the New York Times.

New York billions in the hole

New York has one of the worst budget crises around. Few states are that far in the red, and austerity measures are opposed at every turn. Intractable unions, unwilling to work with either business or industry leaders for the good of the whole make it harder to cut expenditures, and taxes are hard enough to get raised as it is.  When a government runs a deficit, it can either cut expenditures, increase revenue or do a combination of both.