After failing to win concessions from state worker unions, Gov. David A. Paterson is moving to lay off 2,000 in mid-November. While the job losses are regrettable, these cuts are necessary to sustain the state's financial health.

Paterson has sought to take several reasonable steps to wring $250 million in workforce savings from the current budget. In the spring, he proposed two months of furloughs, reducing the workweek to four days for many state employees. He also suggested that workers give up one week's pay. Union leaders fought each measure, taking the governor to court and winning.

This summer, Paterson's administration offered two early retirement programs. More than 5,000 people have signed on, but the savings still come up short.

Unions say they will fight the new layoff order. But they can't deny the continuing weakness of the economy, as well as soft state revenue. At least 20 other states have resorted to layoffs, and many more have eliminated openings.

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Both major party candidates, Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino, are promising to cut the state workforce if elected. They've endorsed Paterson's plan. The hope is that reduced government spending - and the resulting lower tax burden - will spur a stronger private sector.

So, it's lose jobs now, or lose them later. But failing to face fiscal reality is not an option. hN