Dear Governor Paterson:
In our negotiations to date, Senate Democrats have agreed to more than $1 billion in cuts to your agencies and in local assistance reductions. We have advocated cutting with care, and are committed to working with you in the coming days to balance our budget in a way consistent with our values and the public interest.
Two months ago, you convened a meeting of the legislative leaders, and properly identified New York’s growing fiscal deficit as a significant problem for the state.
Senate Democrats agreed with you we needed to tackle the problem quickly but I also stated in that first meeting, and in each subsequent meeting – very clearly – our Conference’s opposition to any new taxes or fees to close the gap. I also made clear the Senate’s bipartisan commitment to protect homeowners from any increase in property taxes.
A month later, you presented your $3.2 billion Deficit Reduction Plan containing deep cuts to health care, education, family planning, and other social services vulnerable constituents depend upon for their safety and stability.
Senate Democrats responded by pointing out the devastating impact some of your proposed cuts would have on New Yorkers. We were the first to identify the damage your proposed $287 million in Medicaid cuts would have on the health care system. The loss of enhanced federal matching funds would have triggered a total cut of $758 million – a devastating, job-killing cut in the middle of the H1N1 health care crisis.
We also advocated against mid-year school aid cuts because of the burden we would be shifting from the state to local governments and local taxpayers. We held hearings around the state where real people with real problems urged us to come up with real solutions.
We agree we must put politics aside and put the people of our State first – and that is exactly what we are doing. Senate Democrats are fighting for taxpayers who already pay too much in taxes and fees, we are fighting for the disabled, we are fighting for family planning funding, and we are fighting for school kids and our seniors.
Last week, you said “there is no other way.” We believe there is a better way, and will work with you to close the gap so we can avoid the layoffs of state workers you have threatened, and deeper cuts in next year’s budget. Send us a deficit reduction plan that protects taxpayers, schoolchildren, and working families, and we will pass it tomorrow.
Together, we will close the deficit by cutting with care and working harder to come up with better ideas. We can then move forward to tackle the greater problem of next year’s budget in the same spirit of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation this crisis demands, with solutions reflecting the values we all share.
John L. Sampson
Dear Governor Paterson: