The Governor's Budget Needs To Go Back - For Remedial Math

Martin J. Golden

February 07, 2008

"New York cannot afford this budget. Governor Spitzer has again shown his true colors -- he has shown that if he can see it, he can tax it. Even more disturbing is the fact that everyone agrees we are already in the red before the budget process even begins.

With that said, the budget seems, at first glance, to be premised on a contradiction: The same Governor who announced a $4.4 billion deficit, has increased spending by almost 6%, more than twice the rate of inflation. Essentially, the Governor is balancing the Budget on the backs of NY taxpayers.

The difference between the deficit and the spending is made up, in part, in new taxes and fees -- on everything from alcohol, cigarettes, banks, insurance companies, HMOs, corporations and bottled drinks. His ‘no new taxes’ pledge will cost New York taxpayers $1.7 billion if fully implemented. Today the Governor also proposes quick-fixes like delaying implementation of the middle-class STAR, and selling the Javits Center - one of the most lucrative NYC facilities that is world renowned and helps to make NYC a global leadership in accommodating and hosting convention sized events.

It bewilders me that the Federal Reserve continues to provide the economy a shot in the arm with cutting key interest rates while New York’s Governor, for the second year in a row, proposes new taxes, fees and increased spending. This morning the New York Stock Exchange opened with the Dow dropping over 400 points. As a New Yorker, I’m concerned about our financial future. I question whether it’s a good idea to increase taxes when most economists are predicting a major slowdown and possible recession in the economy nationwide, and in particular in New York City.

The Governor also seems intent on breaking some promises from last year, in such areas as education, healthcare, and tax reform. In fact, the Governor presents a very real challenge to the progress being made in education in New York City’s public schools in short changing the schools by $100 million- a promise the Governor made last year to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity mandates.

Also last year, the Governor closed hospitals which were vital to community care. This year, the Governor's $1 billion in health care cuts will again adversely impact the quality of health care at hospitals, emergency rooms and nursing homes. Many of these cuts to pharmacy and managed care target the health services of New York's fixed-income seniors.

Governor Spitzer today repeatedly said, "We have to hope for the best." What happened to planning ahead and relieving the burdens on our taxpayers? I doubt reducing property tax rebates and then increasing taxes on people who buy homes, own homes, drive cars, pay health insurance, and own a small business is the relief any New Yorker would suggest.

Considering that a year ago everything was supposed to change on ‘Day 1,’ this proposed State Budget is very comparable to the ones that Governor Mario Cuomo issued. This budget just barely falls short of selling prisons and highways in order to bring in funding to pay for proposed spending."