ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo said a fully staffed upstate home for boys that has no clients is a symbol of the waste contributing to New York’s fiscal crisis as he forecast a “very, very difficult” 2011-12 fiscal year.
Cuomo made the comments Monday at the Tryon Residential Center for boys, a Fulton County juvenile detention center whose residents once included heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.
The facility was closed this year as part of a state overhaul and has been without boys for months, but 30 employees still work there. The delay, at a cost Cuomo put at $50 million, is partly because the Legislature requires a one-year notice before closing the facilities run by unionized workers.
“We’re paying 30 staff people to baby-sit an empty building,” Cuomo said. ‘It is bizarre. It is something that has to be stopped immediately.”
He said the law needs to be changed, despite the pressure of unions, to avoid such incidents he called “the extreme of absurdity” and ridiculous. Asked when the building should be closed and the jobs terminated, Cuomo had no specific answer.
New York overhauled its juvenile justice system to emphasize rehabilitation, rather than punishment, and to avoid a federal takeover after reports of mistreatment by guards and insufficient services.
Cuomo said that with no federal bailout expected, the 2011-12 fiscal year is going to be “very, very difficult … all the choices will be hard choices.” But he continued to share few specifics on how he would address the state’s current and future deficits.
Gov. David Paterson said the current deficit is $315 million and is calling the Legislature into special session Monday to address it, although no deals appear to be in the works. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, also a Democrat, estimates the deficit at nearly $1 billion.
Paterson and DiNapoli agree the 2011-12 deficit will be more than $9 billion.
The Paterson administration is also sending out notices to 898 state workers slated for layoffs beginning Jan. 1. Cuomo hasn’t said if he would carry out those layoffs. Instead, he defends the legality of the layoffs as attorney general and underscores the state’s dire fiscal crisis, while showing compassion for the workers.
Paterson resorted to layoffs after public worker unions refused alternatives, including suspending their 4 percent raises and delaying a week’s pay.
“Every time we use numbers, it’s very important to remember there is a family attached to that number,” Cuomo said Monday. He later added: “Next year is going to be a tremendously difficult problem … the answer is not to have the state of New York hire. You need to create private sector jobs.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)