ALBANY, N.Y.(WPIX)—Governor David Paterson is taking heat for vetoing a bill that would cap how much rent landlords can charge welfare recipients with H.I.V./ AIDS, saying it is "the hardest veto" he's ever had to issue.
Paterson says the state cannot afford the $20-million annual cost of the program anymore. "I recognize, sadly, the history of the inadequacy of services government has brought to bear for those with H.I.V./AIDS." But he added, "I have pledged not to impose unfunded mandates on cash-strapped localities, and to prevent the state from taking on additional financial burdens outside the budget process without an identified funding source," the governor said.
A report in The New York Times says Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed the measure sending state senators a memo in January, pointing out his administration was set to spend $150 million on the program this fiscal year, and that the new measure would cost an additional 10 percent. Still the Senate passed it 42 to 19, and the Assembly, 84 to 5.
Bloomberg urged Paterson to veto the bill, and praised him for following through. He said this in a statement: "Governor Paterson has made a difficult and wise decision that will save the taxpayers of the state and the city millions of dollars, demonstrating the courage to control spending in this difficult fiscal climate," according to The Times report.
State Senator Thomas Duane -- a Manhattan democrat, who sponsored the measure -- describes the Paterson veto as "extremely, extremely disappointing." Duane added he and Senate leaders will consult Assembly allies and strategize on what to do next. Leaders of the Democratic majority in the Senate are calling for an override.
"But in the meantime, according to Duane, people are going to have to make absolutely impossible decisions about whether or not they can take the subway to visit relatives or buy peanut butter..." "These clients with aids are going to have to chose between buying a toothbrush or doing their laundry, chose between buying underwear or paying a phone bill."
More than 11,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV/AIDS.