ALBANY - With no deals between them and Gov. David A. Paterson on thorny issues, lawmakers met briefly last night and adjourned until Thursday.
Paterson ordered the legislature back to the Capitol in hopes of completing the $134.4-billion budget, which is 120 days late. The State Senate left July 1 without passing a revenue bill and Wednesday both houses refused to accept a new version amended by Paterson recently.
The Senate and Assembly, minus some vacationing members, met for 15 minutes and 8 minutes, respectively. No bills were taken up and the houses will reconvene at 10 a.m. today.
"They have performed horribly," Paterson said in Manhattan earlier, referring to the late budget. "They were brought back because the budget's not passed, and I don't care how many of them show up. I'm going to keep bringing them back until it is."
Of 61 senators, eight didn't attend the special session, including Temporary President Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) who was on a family vacation. All 32 Democrats must vote "yes" for the budget to pass because the 29 Republicans have pledged to vote "no."
In the Assembly, 35 of the 150 members were absent but Democrats enjoy a large majority to pass bills.
Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate chief John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) both said they hope to reach agreements with Paterson before today's session. Silver said votes were "not yet" close on issues such as freedom for SUNY and CUNY to set tuition rates.
The governor can require attendance at special sessions, but cannot force votes on legislation. Paterson is seeking adoption of a property tax cap, tax on sugary beverages, wine sales in supermarkets, and a contingency plan should New York not receive $1-billion in Medicaid funds from Washington and the SUNY/CUNY issue.
Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the Senate's Democratic majority, said it was awaiting Paterson's response to alternative proposals given to him Tuesday night.
"We want a three-way, negotiated agreement on the budget, not another unnegotiated press release," Shafran said.