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New York State Worker Furloughs Blocked by U.S. Judge

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- A federal judge in Albany blocked New York State’s plan to furlough 100,000 workers one day a week without pay.

Governor David Paterson is “temporarily and immediately enjoined from implementing any furloughs,” Judge Lawrence Kahn of the U.S. District Court for Northern New York said in his order.

Unions representing about 130,000 state workers asked the court to stop the plan which Paterson, 55, said would “ratchet up the pressure” on lawmakers to agree to an overdue budget for the year that began April 1.

Kahn barred Paterson from submitting any additional spending bills that call for furloughs or deny workers the 4 percent raise their contracts called for on April 1. The raises have not yet been paid. The judge gave Paterson until May 19 to respond.

New York, the third-most populous U.S. state, faces a $9.2 billion budget deficit in the year that started last month. With the Senate and Assembly unable to agree on how to close the gap, Paterson has submitted six consecutive “bare bones” emergency spending bills.

Lawmakers have agreed on ways to close about $7 billion of the budget gap, and aren’t willing to cut spending as much as Paterson seeks in his $135.2 billion budget plan, according to the governor.

Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Paterson, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Donohue et. al. v. Paterson et. al., 1:10-cv-00543, U.S. District Court, Northern New York (Albany).

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Quint in Albany, New York, at mquint@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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