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September 4, 2009

NEW YORK: Paterson, Maziarz spar over state finances

NIAGARA FALLS — During a stop in the city Thursday, Gov. David Paterson predicted a tough financial road ahead for the state of New York.

He also suggested that one of his loudest critics — Republican State Sen. George Maziarz of Newfane — has done a good job of offering suggestions, but hasn’t provided realistic solutions for dealing with the current fiscal crisis.

“We’re open to suggestions, obviously new ideas, but this is a very difficult situation,” Paterson said.

Paterson visited the Falls to announce the award of a $5 million Restore New York grant to the city. The money will be used to help local developers refurbish the old South Junior School as an apartment complex and provide residential space for seniors at the old 39th Street School building and former public safety complex on Hyde Park Boulevard.

Maziarz, who did not attend Paterson’s news conference but convened a media event at his office afterwards, questioned Paterson’s decision to give state funding to support housing initiatives in a city where the federal government says the vacancy rate is already so high. He also suggested the governor was attempting to deflect attention from more serious state problems like recent tax and fee increases and the lack of STAR rebate checks for homeowners this year.

“The governor’s timing is very convenient here,” Maziarz said.

Paterson rattled off a list of moves the state made in response to the fiscal crisis that he would like to have avoided, including tax increases, cuts in Medicaid spending and budget reductions in other areas. He said those decisions, while not pleasant, were necessary to maintain stability in the state’s bond rating and cash flow.

Paterson, borrowing a line from a popular television commercial, said: “It’s so easy to stand up and say what you wouldn’t have done. A caveman could do it.”

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