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Power struggle: Legislature to pass budget

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson tried to deliver his budget bill to the Legislature on Monday morning, but the Assembly and Senate majorities refused to accept them amid escalating tensions over a state budget nearly three months overdue.

Instead, the Democratic majorities of the Senate and Assembly plan to pass their own budget bills Monday. Their spokesmen say the governor missed a deadline to submit the bills under law, allowing the Legislature to reject them.

The Democratic governor said the Legislature’s bills add about $400 million in spending without providing a way to pay for it. He claims the Legislature’s budget would be out of balance.

After the event was played out for TV cameras, Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook said the Legislature has never refused to accept a governor’s budget bills.

“A lot of things haven’t been done before,” said Senate Democratic leader John Sampson, summing up how all sides pushed the limits of their legal authority over a contentious weekend. The leader of the Democrats, with a 32-30 seat majority, said he’s confident he will have the 32 votes needed to pass the Legislature’s bills today.

Senate Democratic majority spokesman Austin Shafran called Paterson’s bill “an unnegotiated threat.”

“If we didn’t reject the governor’s unnegotiated bill, he could claim it trumps the Legislature’s ability to vote on the bills we have joint agreement on,” Shafran said.

The feuding executive and legislative branches have confounded even veteran lawmakers as to what will happen next. But most agreed Monday morning that the Legislature will pass its bills, followed by Paterson’s vetoes.

That could lead to an override attempt where Senate Republicans, who are angry Democrats have excluded them from most budget negotiations, could block the two-thirds vote needed to overturn any Paterson vetoes.

Sampson, however, said he spoke with the governor Sunday night and still hopes for a negotiated budget with agreement from the Assembly, Senate and governor.

Paterson’s delivery of his budget bills and rejection of them by the Senate and Assembly was quietly done Sunday night among staffers, but was repeated Monday with notice to news organizations.