It now appears the budget won't be wrapped up until next week, but it looks like the end result will be basically on Gov. David Paterson's terms. That's the first victory for a fiscally responsible governor since the mid-1990s, before George Pataki decided co-opting labor unions and other special interests was the path of least resistance.
The contrast between Paterson and Eliot Spitzer is particularly marked. While the latter has never lost his media sheen (he's going to be co-hosting a national show on CNN), Paterson has been mercilessly mocked and disparaged. Gov. Spitzer talked a tough game on the budget but failed to deliver, and went backwards on ethics with a disastrous 2007 law (not to mention a dead-letter budget "reform"). Lame-duck Paterson has rammed budget cuts through the Legislature and refused to be rolled on ethics (which doesn't mean he shouldn't take a compromise bill if he can get it).
Taking a longer view, it was Paterson as Senate minority leader who laid the groundwork for the Democrats' takeover of that chamber, but he is not tainted by the incompetence and possible corruption of the current leaders of the Senate Democratic majority. The David Johnson scandal didn't look good for the governor, and it remains to be seen what the Judith Kaye investigation shows. Meanwhile, Paterson towers over the other Albany politicians.