Budget Cuts Necessary to Close Gap

By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

I’ve talked a lot recently about how our state has a spending problem. Our total state budget figures in at $131.8 billion. Over the past 10 years, state spending has increased by $52 billion or 65 percent. It’s obvious to me, many of my constituents, businesses, taxpayers and good government groups that New York needs to trim spending. Amazingly, with all of our new taxes and fees, we have a $2.1 billion deficit we need to close in our current budget due to the recession. Though the economy didn’t help matters, poor fiscal management has gotten us to this point.

Here are a few ways in which we can trim spending for future budgets and go beyond the current year’s budget gap. The savings listed below would apply to the 2009-10 state budget.

  • Eliminate Legislative additions—line-items in the state budget designed to benefit one legislative district, similar to member items.
  • Eliminate new vehicle purchases and leases for one year: $14,302,659.
  • Eliminate funding for Government to buy more private land: $60,000,000
  • Eliminate Member items: $200,000,000
  • Cut personal services across all agencies by 5 %: $378,324,737
  • Cut non-personal services in all agencies such as office supplies and travel expenses by 20 %: 424,000,000.
  • Streamline state government by consolidating: $964,179,425
  • Remove state government mandate on localities to provide optional Medicaid services so that counties would be free to choose which services to provide: $4,000,000,000.
  • Improve Medicaid fraud detection and abuse.

People often ask me how I would solve our budget problems. Though these are not all the possibilities by any means, these serve as a way to get the conversation started on closing the gap. I am urging leaders in Albany to call budget hearings and budget meetings to allow lawmakers across the state to be involved in constructive fiscal solutions that will benefit all taxpayers.