Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

Quick - when was the last time you heard of pols sticking a Post-it note to an approved bill that said, "Dear Judges: Please destroy upon receipt"?

On Monday, the state legislature, for the first time, voted to force an estimated 100,000 state workers to take time off without pay.

By itself, that was far from exotic. From Honolulu to Red Bank, N.J., more and more state and municipal governments are moving to furlough employees as they run out of cash.

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But there's a special twist in Albany. In a drive to cut it both ways, lawmakers there made their action equivocal enough to be self-canceling.

That is, while approving furloughs as part of an emergency budget bill, the Legislature dumped on the potential illegality of their own action.

"The courts will overturn it because I think it interferes with a collective bargaining agreement," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Monday.

As if to make sure it was in writing, the Senate on Monday unanimously backed a resolution that said: "The language in the bill requiring a one-day furlough is contrary to the laws and public policy of this state."

The public-sector unions went off to court to fight the furloughs - armed in part with the legislators' own words.

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Even in our fun house of a state Capitol, this one stands out as bizarre.