Budget: Passed, in theory

Ladies and gentlemen of New York State: We have a budget.

Sort of.

Hoping to seize control of a budget battle dominated for weeks by Gov. David A. Paterson, lawmakers voted on Monday to restore hundreds of millions of dollars in education and health spending that the governor had sought to cut. But just hours later, Mr. Paterson exercised his line-item veto power to cancel the added school aid — and said that more such vetoes were on the way.

Because the budget bills are amended versions of Gov. Paterson's own bills, he can't veto them outright. But he can go through them line by line and veto individual items -- a process he began by nixing $419 million in school aid, and which he plans to repeat 6,900 times, says the Albany Times-Union's Casey Seiler.

I got out my calculator to get some sense of how long that would take. Using the very conservative estimate of 3 seconds per veto, that would take a little less than six hours. But that’s without bathroom or meal breaks — much less sleep, negotiations with the Legislature and all the other governing stuff.

“We’ll set up a Webcam,” joked spokesman Morgan Hook.

The governor blasted the legislators:

“Rather than act in the interests of the people of New York state, they have engaged in legislation that is in self-interest and presented us with a series of bills that have the same gimmicks, chicanery and avoidant conduct that has characterized fiscal management in this state for far too long,” Paterson told journalists in the Red Room. He said legislators were sending a message to New Yorkers that they wanted “mediocrity” in higher education by not allowing SUNY campuses to charge more tuition and that their rejection of a property tax cap he proposed means “property tax relief will have to give way to an election year gimmick.”

Up next: More flap over whether or not the Legislature will override Paterson's vetoes.

As if this all weren't depressing enough, the Senate is split exactly along party lines, the Bronx's Sen. Ruben Diaz Jr. is apparently willing to throw the entire state under the bus to prevent gays from being able to file joint tax returns, and New Jersey is making fun of us.

And apparently the next generation of New York state senators is getting a schooling in proper Senatorial conduct:

Earlier: All three rings on display in Albany circus