NEW YORK—After Gov. David Paterson delayed state-funded construction projects across New York, several prominent New York contracting associations plan to file suit.
According to an announcement last week, the Long Island Contractors' Association, the General Contracts Association of New York, and the Construction Industry Council met on Thursday and decided the best course of action would be to file suit against the state.
"Candidly, we believe this Governor has lost his ability to make rational decisions. It's as if we are watching some wrenching final scene from the `Madness of King George the Third,'” said Mark Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association.
“Not only has the Governor stopped all construction projects in the pipeline, but also projects that are well underway and incurring considerable costs to the contractor such as the Route 110 overpass,” he added.
Paterson has asserted that construction projects need to be halted as New York doesn't have a state budget yet and is running on temporary funds passed by the Assembly two weeks ago. The package, totaling $4.6 billion, lasts until April 15.
The Building Trades Employer’s Association of New York issued a statement last week, requesting that Paterson push forward emergency legislation to keep the state-funded construction projects rolling.
“We cannot afford to lose more jobs due to government action,” said Gary LaBarbera.
He said that in the past two years, the state has lost over 58,000 construction jobs, 22,000 in New York City alone.
The governor last week also told state employee unions that they need to forgo their pay raises during the economic crisis. The payment of approximately $2.1 billion in school aid scheduled for March 31 was also delayed due to budget problems.
For the past several months, Paterson has reiterated that New York will have to make “painful” cuts in order for the budget to get back on track. His budget proposed cutting $1 billion from health care and $1.4 billion from education.
Out of the past 25 years, 23 budgets haven't been passed on time. Several budget proposals and solutions have been outlined over the past three months and the Governor's office estimates that New York will get a working budget by sometime in July.
New York currently faces an over $9.2 billion budget deficit. The state Senate and Assembly passed their own versions of the budget, taking the week off last week due to holidays. Lawmakers will return to Albany on April 7.
The Department of Transportation started sending out letters to contractors, notifying them that the state will not provide funding for any construction work between April 1 and April 11, according to The Business Review in Albany. For the interim, the only construction projects that are being kept alive are funded with federal stimulus funds and projects that need emergency attention.