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The Lame Duck Roars

In the last week, Gov. David Paterson has demonstrated a courage rarely seen in Albany. While the state’s derelict legislators headed home for vacation, the governor sat with his aides and began vetoing the state budget.

The governor made good on a promise to veto an estimated 6,900 spending provisions that are part of the state’s $136 billion budget. The governor claims the budget handed to him three months late by the Democratic-run state Legislature is at least $400 million to $1.5 billion out of balance.

The state Assembly may have enough votes to override Paterson’s veto, but the state Senate does not. Queens Democrats are livid. They underestimated the chutzpah of the governor. They expected him to rubber-stamp a budget.

Assemblyman Rory Lancman complained, “The governor’s posture is it’s his way or the highway. We still consider educating our kids, whether it’s elementary school, high school or college a priority and it’s regrettable the governor could not meet us even halfway.”

He is mad at the wrong guy. Lancman should focus his anger on Senate Majority Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who failed to rein in member-item spending and failed to hammer out a compromise with the Legislature’s minority leaders.

We agree with state Sen. Frank Padavan who countered, “The entire budget scenario is a disgrace and an outrage.”

Paterson, who took over after Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace, said he will not run for governor when his term is finished. He had harsh words for the Legislature: “When they were finally confronted with reality, rather than act in the interest of the people of New York state, they have engaged in legislation that is in their self-interest and have presented us with a series of bills with the same gimmicks, chicanery and avoidant ´╗┐conduct that has characterized fiscal management in this state for far too long.”

We confess that we never expected this from the governor. But the legally blind leader has demonstrated an integrity and political bravery rarely found in any state capital.

Way to go, governor.

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