Paterson Bill Would Open Parks, But at a Cost

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Gov. David Paterson's proposal to keep all New York's 213 parks and historic sites funded and open starting Memorial Day weekend has hit resistance from lawmakers and environmentalists because it's embedded in a broader measure to reduce dedicated environmental spending.

Paterson initially said the bill would take $6 million from an environmental fund to open the parks by Memorial Day weekend. But, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says, the measure does far more than that, and he accuses Paterson of holding the parks “hostage.”

"The governor never should have closed the parks and this excuse of re-routing $110 million from the Environmental Protection Fund and telling all of you that it's a $6 million program, he's taking $104 million to do other things, it's inappropriate," Silver says.

If lawmakers don’t vote for the bill, with the other spending changes, the parks will remain closed.

As for the state senate, a spokesman for the Democratic majority says the bill sets a "very dangerous precedent,” by forcing lawmakers to make appropriations before a final budget is in place. New York's budget is nearly 8 weeks late.