Albany's new sheriff is ready to lay down the law.
Gov. Cuomo is threaten ing to shut down state government in early April if the Legislature refuses to pass a new budget that slashes spending by an unprecedented $10 billion, The Post has learned.
Insiders said Cuomo is determined to avoid the long budget delays that have plagued and crippled the state for nearly three decades as budget fights between governors and the Legislature went as late as mid-August.
The first-ever shutdown would bring nearly all services except prisons, health-care institutions and the State Police to a grinding halt and leave more than 100,000 state workers idle and without paychecks, insiders said.
Cuomo relayed his readiness for such a high-stakes confrontation in conversations with key aides and state lawmakers during the past two weeks as he outlined general plans to cut the state payroll and impose billions of dollars in reductions on school districts and the Medicaid program in the fiscal year beginning April 1.
"The choice this time for lawmakers is going to be Cuomo's horrible budget or an even more horrible situation: an entire state shutdown," said a source close to the situation.
The new governor, who has rejected the state's traditional reliance on higher taxes and borrowing to close budget gaps, will outline specifics of his tough spending plan on Feb. 1, setting the stage for what one legislative aide called "a budget Armageddon" with the Legislature.
A shutdown would bring enormous political pressure on the Legislature, which, because it gets most of its political contributions from special interests that rely on state spending, has traditionally refused to accept massive budget cuts.
Cuomo would keep the onus of shutting government down on the Legislature through the use of a "continuing resolution" that would keep the state functioning, but at a drastically reduced level.
Greatly strengthening his stance is the fact that lawmakers face re-election next year, while the governor doesn't have to face the voters again until 2014.
Let's see how people feel about Little Andy after he forces a shutdown, slashes school aid to the bone, and cuts Medicaid to nothing.
Maybe they will still support him and cheer his "No New Taxes On Hedge Fund Managers" program.
Right now, they are.
But we'll see how that popularity goes when the actual cuts come down and schools are forced to lay off tens of thousands of teachers across the state and raise class sizes to 50.
Or maybe he'll use all that money he raised from Wall Street and corporate interests to go on the offensive against the legislature and "special interests" like teachers and cops to get his way.
If Cuomo's budget goes through, the number of layoffs in education will be devastating.
But Little Andy doesn't care about that.
What he cares about is making sure his Wall Street criminal friends get tax cuts.