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Cuomo threatens 12,000 job cuts, major overhauls

Jan 20, 2011 9:46 am
Think the job situation is bad out there? According to new reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, things could get much more competitive in the coming year as Gov. Andrew Cuomo mulls laying off more than 10,000 government workers, rivaling the number of pink slips handed out by his father a generation ago, according to individuals familiar with budget discussions.
While Mr. Cuomo has not settled on a figure, the governor in recent days has told lawmakers and other officials that he is looking at dismissing 10,000 to 12,000 workers, or more than 5% of the state's public work force, the individuals say. Not since the early 1990s, when Mario Cuomo was grappling with a recession, has a New York governor threatened layoffs of that magnitude. Talk of layoffs has escalated as Mr. Cuomo prepares to submit his budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Since taking office on Jan. 1, after a landslide victory in November, the former state attorney general has enjoyed robust public support and has courted cooperation across a spectrum of government players: labor leaders, upstate advocates, real-estate developers and Wall Street bankers.
The governor's first budget is expected in the coming two weeks, and is pegged for instant opposition by state employee unions, including teachers, who have already joined a nationwide campaign to stop the anti-public employee rhetoric, and actions, of the past year, pointing out that those with careers doing government jobs are not lazy, or trying to take advantage of taxpayers, and play as important a role in local economics as businesses, the self-employed, or investors.
"It's obviously going to be an extreme amount of pain and suffering for families across the state," said a Republican senator on Wednesday evening. "The dark days of the '70s have returned."

The number of full-time, salaried state employees is around 200,000, about 15 percent smaller than 20 years ago, according to the state. About 93 percent of the state work force is unionized.

The governor met privately with the Senate Republican majority conference on Tuesday, January 18, where he is reported to have told them they should brace for mass layoffs but did not give a specific figure. They were later briefed that the number could be around 12,000. Others familiar with budget talks said Mr. Cuomo was considering at least 10,000 layoffs. At the meeting with Republicans, Mr. Cuomo also warned that he would be calling for billions of dollars in cuts to public schools, eliminating spending growth and possibly reducing it below this year's level. And he's also drawing up a health-care budget that could knock $2.1 billion or hundreds of millions of dollars more out of the state's share of projected Medicaid spending in the next fiscal year. Since then, state officials said his budget proposal numbers were still moving.
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