Thanksgiving Tensions Flare in N.Y., Mass.

By: - November 25, 2009 12:00 am

Democrats in Massachusetts and New York are finding that the stress of resolving budget deficits may outweigh party unity this Thanksgiving.

On Monday (Nov. 23), New York Gov. David Paterson (D) threatened to keep state lawmakers in Albany for the holiday so they could resolve a .2 billion budget gap that has been the focus of months of negotiations, The Buffalo News reported. On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Paterson shifted gears, telling legislators in a televised address, “Cut this deficit with me, or I’ll do it myself,” according to the Times Union of Albany .

Paterson’s threat of unilateral action “landed with a predictable thud” at the statehouse, The New York Times reported – including on the Democratic side of the aisle. Many lawmakers questioned Paterson’s constitutional authority to make the cuts himself.

“What’s next, martial law?” one Democratic state representative told the Times . Senate Democrats and Republicans even held a rare joint news conference, “seemingly united against the governor’s proposal,” the paper said.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has found the going just as tough with his Democratic-controlled legislature.

Patrick has spent the week criticizing lawmakers for failing to fully resolve a million budget gap, urging them to return to work before a regularly scheduled session in January and give him authority to close the remainder of the gap on his own.

But House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D) rebuffed Patrick’s request on Tuesday (Nov. 24), telling reporters, “Formal sessions will resume in the first week of January, as scheduled,” The Boston Globe reported. Earlier in the week, DeLeo joked with Patrick about their public disagreement, telling the governor, according to The Globe , “Isn’t it wonderful, you and I coming together in the spirit of Thanksgiving?”

Massachusetts lawmakers, meanwhile, “have given themselves a four-day Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in nearly a decade,” the Boston Herald reported .

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