Posted by: audreybenenati | January 20, 2010

Major changes likely to Paterson’s budget

New York Gov. David Paterson explains his executive budget proposal during a speech in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.


Utica Observer-Dispatch

Posted Jan 19, 2010 @ 09:50 PM

Last update Jan 19, 2010 @ 11:33 PM

The $134 billion state budget Gov. David Paterson proposed Tuesday is likely to undergo many changes before the state’s final 2010-11 spending plan is approved by legislators – and it usually goes up.

During the previous five years, the budget presented by the governor has increased by an average of more than $2 billion per year by the time the budget is enacted, according to an O-D review of state budget figures.

Paterson unveiled a spending plan Tuesday that calls for massive cuts to education and health care and increases overall spending by just 0.6 percent – less than the current 2 percent rate of inflation – and attempts to close a $7.5 billion deficit.

This year’s budget proposes about $1 billion in new taxes and fees such as a soda tax and a $1-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes. But when Paterson outlined many new taxes and fees last year, public outcry led to many proposals such as a different soda tax and taxes on music downloads not being approved in the final budget.

During his budget address, Paterson referred to the current time as the “breaking point” and an “inevitable reckoning” for state finances.
“And we can no longer afford the spending addiction that we have had for so long,” Paterson said. “The age of accountability has arrived.”

As state legislators review the budget, groups opposed to new fees or cuts likely will be applying pressure for them to make changes.

But at least one good-government expert said legislators need to make sure they enact a budget that still raises revenues and cuts spending to deal with the state’s financial problems.

“People may be unhappy with the state budget, but there’s no denying that the state has the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression,” said Lise Bang-Jensen, senior policy analyst for the EmpireCenter for New York State Policy. “So if people don’t like Gov. Paterson’s budget, they need to come up with alternatives.”

‘A starting point’

With some questionable fees and many deep, but possibly necessary cuts, the governor’s budget is “a mixed bag,” state Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, said.

“So there are lots of things that I have concerns about that I think we have to address through the legislative process,” Valesky said. “An executive budget proposal is always a starting point.”

State Assemblyman David Townsend, R-SylvanBeach, said his focus during the review process will be to eliminate many of the “hidden fees and taxes” and get expenses under control.

Local residents have mixed views on the fees.

Utican John Zee, 75, said he is against many of Paterson’s plans because they are just hidden taxes.

“It’s an easy way to get at the consumers,” Zee said.

Gerry and Dona Macner of Prospect also said they don’t like fees in general, but they’re fine with taxes on cigarettes and soda.

“I don’t really care if things like that are taxed that people don’t need and probably should avoid,” Dona Macner said.

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