Here's what's happening stagnating in Albany: Yesterday, as promised, Governor Paterson spent six hours hunched over a table vetoing by hand 4,700 earmarks that the legislature had included in an education bill. These items, commonly known as pork, range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, and "are typically distributed by lawmakers to nonprofit and civic organizations in their districts," the NY Times reports. There was a web-cam set up to watch the "veto-palooza," as the Post puts it, and today Paterson is expected to finish the job by signing another 2,200 line item vetoes.

“His back actually hurts more than anything,” Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook told reporters yesterday. “Not his hand. People think the hand, but it’s the back.” Meanwhile, the Assembly approved a final revenue bill, but their bill doesn't factor in an anticipated $1 billion shortfall in in federal Medicaid financing. Paterson and Senate leader John Sampson want to set aside money in reserve until Congress acts on the Medicaid financing, and they also want to let New York’s public universities set tuition without legislative approval. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is opposed to both proposals.

Senator Sampson was unable to corral enough votes to pass the revenue bill, and lawmakers have now left for their July 4th vacation. The budget is over three months overdue, and Paterson's vetoes are his way of punishing legislators who set aside parts of his budget and passed their own version, restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in school and health spending. Without a final revenue bill, the Legislature doesn't have a way to raise the millions of dollars in taxes and fees needed to cover the state's spending. They also don't have a way to get paid, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said he will not release legislative paychecks unless lawmakers "stay in Albany and get the job done."

Below, the five stupidest things said in Albany as everyone knocked off for vacation. (Yes, we somehow narrowed it down to just five!)

  • Senate Leader John Sampson, on his way out of town after failing to pass the revenue bill: "We have done our job. The budget—we have done the budget... There's an outstanding revenue piece, and there's a possibility that there may be a $1 billion shortfall. Don't overlook what we have accomplished because of what we have yet to finish."
  • Governor Paterson, when asked if all his vetoes could be called off if lawmakers agreed to a compromise on a Medicaid contingency plan: "I'm not negotiating with anybody. I'm a little busy right now. I don't think I have time to negotiate."
  • Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, on his way out of town, was asked for his thoughts on the Senate's failure to finish the budget before vacation: "I'm not concerned. We negotiated long and hard with the governor and the Senate on a revenue bill."
  • Assemblyman Jose Rivera (D-Bronx) ranted on the floor of the Assembly until his microphone was cut off, and blasted the Senate for going on holiday without a budget: "Did they go home because they're tired of eating cheese and crackers? Like E.T., I want to go home! I want to get paid!"
  • Governor Paterson, observing the two foot tall stack of member items he had to veto one by one: "In that big pile, you didn't sneak in an auto loan or anything?"

Okay, you kind of have to laugh at that last one, as long as you don't think about how the joke's on us.