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Is this trip a stumble?

  Timing can be everything in Albany.

   Defenders of Gov. David A. Paterson's plans to head to two Caribbean islands next week say the trips will help New York's economy, were planned a long time ago and will not cost the taxpayers a dime -- at least for the governor's expenses.

   But the trip's timing left some scratching their heads Thursday. "I was wondering about the decision when I heard about it," said one seasoned Albany public relations pro.

   The governor just this week released fiscal numbers showing New York faces its greatest-ever budget deficit over the next few years. Lawmakers are coming back in less than three weeks to cut, if Paterson gets his way, $2 million from the current budget. And the news only gets worse next year.

   Then there's the funding for the trip. Paterson aides say it's a wash for taxpayers because the governor's 2010 campaign account will pay his way. But that led at least one watchdog group to wonder how that jibes with the governor's own legislation -- which did not pass this year -- curbing longtime Albany abuses that let politicians dip into campaign accounts for expenses that really have nothing to do with their re-election efforts.

   To Paterson supporters, the alternative -- using taxpayer money -- would have been ridiculous at a time when he is asking for shared sacrifices by all groups that rely on the state budget for funding. They also wonder, what's the big deal? A governor has to travel, has to represent the state -- both within the state's borders and outside. And that happens when the state's finances are both healthy and dire.

   -- Tom Precious

   

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

[email protected]


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

[email protected]


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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