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Paterson looks to layoffs to trim state workforce

Gov. David Paterson addresses the media. (Sept. 7,

Gov. David Paterson addresses the media. (Sept. 7, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

ALBANY - Layoffs will account for most of the 2,000 jobs to be cut from the state workforce by year's end, Gov. David A. Paterson said Tuesday.

Citing previous rounds of early retirements, the governor said, "I think we are going to have to accomplish the 2,000 jobs limit by mostly through layoffs."

The cuts would come from the 130,081 positions under Paterson's control, at state agencies excluding SUNY, the courts, legislature, state insurance fund and public authorities. On Long Island, SUNY and the insurance fund are big employers.

Paterson has said the pink slips will begin next month.

The last time New York terminated a large number of employees was in the mid-1990s under Gov. George Pataki. More recently, there were two layoffs in 2008, 168 last year and an undetermined number this year because of agency consolidations and the shutdown of state facilities, according to David Ernst of the Civil Service Department.

The workforce has shrunk considerably since Paterson instituted a hiring freeze in 2008 and offered early retirement incentives. As of early September, 193,893 people were working at agencies, SUNY, CUNY and the offices of comptroller and attorney general. That's 6,023 fewer than in March 2009, according to Paterson's budget office. The figures do not include the legislature, courts and public authorities.

About 6,000 people have taken the most recent early retirement incentive so far.

Asked about the layoffs, Paterson said they were needed to save $250 million in this year's $136-billion budget. "The economic times unfortunately call for it," he told reporters at Albany University.

Separately Tuesday, the governor dropped his threat to compel lawmakers to return to the Capitol for a possible vote on a property tax cap before the Nov. 2 elections. He wants action by the Assembly, which so far has refused to take up a cap bill approved by the State Senate several times.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) "has made it clear that he would like to work out property tax relief with the next governor and I'm not going to try to upstage the whole process by putting myself in the middle," Paterson said.

He added Assembly members would have to "answer to the public" for their inaction.

Earlier, Silver said he was speaking with his Democratic majority about tax relief. "There are a variety of plans . . . but we need a solid conference position."

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