Cuomo to GOP: Be ready for layoffs

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a closed-door dinner with Senate Republicans Tuesday, warning them that his upcoming executive budget will include layoffs of state employees and significant spending cuts.

State Senator Betty Little's spokesman Dan MacEntee confirmed Thursday that the newly-elected Democrat promised a significant amount of state downsizing in order to combat a projected $11 billion deficit in the coming year.

"The governor spoke at the dinner with Senate Republicans about this year's budget being very difficult and that layoffs will be necessary to close the budget deficit," MacEntee said.

Though Cuomo didn't divulge exactly how many jobs may be targeted in his upcoming state executive draft budget, several sources within the administration have told reporters that between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs could be on the chopping block.

If enacted, it would be the largest downsizing of state government since his father's massive cuts in the early 1990s.

Cuomo has also indicated that he will be looking to slash the amount the state spends on Medicaid and aid to school districts as well. At around $54 billion annually, Medicaid is the largest state expense, while school aid ranks second among appropriations.

Even with the exact number of jobs on the line unknown, union representatives, like Public Employee Federation President Ken Brynien, are already scrambling to respond to the news.

"Any suggestion of reducing the state workforce by 10,000 to 15,000 would not only cripple the delivery of essential services, it would have a chilling effect on the state's economy and undermine the state's fragile recovery," he said.

Unions aren't the only ones lining up for a showdown with Cuomo.

Senate and Assembly Democrats are already unhappy with his plan to allow a tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to expire. They argue its extension could generate $1 billion in much-needed revenue.

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