Gov. Paterson’s Deficit Cutting Plan Would Create Hundreds Of Little Deficits

Governor Paterson delivers his 2010-2011 Executive Budget.  Photo provided by the Governor's office.
Governor Paterson delivers his 2010-2011 Executive Budget. Photo provided by the Governor's office.

Gov. Paterson’s plan to fill a massive hole in the state budget consists, in part, of blowing holes in thousands of smaller budgets across the state.

Paterson Tuesday unveiled his proposal for a 2010-11 state budget that would cover a $7 billion deficit by sharply reducing what the state spends on health care, education and aid to local governments.

Education aid would be reduced by an average of 5% to each school district.

Fulton City Schools, for instance would receive $1,718,000 less aid for next school year than it is receiving this year.

A cut of that size “has significant and dire implications,” said Fulton Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch.

If Fulton wanted to keep next school year everything it has this year, the tax levy would have to rise 18%.

The Governor, Lynch said, “looks at reserves school districts have and says use them. But a lot of federal money goes away in the 2011-12 school year and we’ll need those reserves down the road.”

Aid to local governments would also be cut under the Governor’s plan.

Cities, towns and villages would have to absorb cuts of up to 5%. Fulton, for example, would lose $88,000 in state aid under Paterson’s plan. Oswego would lose $133,000.

Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said the city has already begun working on next year’s budget because, without the Governor’s proposed cuts, the city was looking at an $800,000 shortfall. “Now, we’ve got $900 thousand to make up,” he said. “You either raise revenues somehow, or cut something.”

He said State Sen. Darrel Aubertine has asked to meet with him and the members of the Common Council to discuss what the Legislature should do.

State Legislature leaders predicted that the cuts will not stand, though they may not be eliminated.

Paterson’s budget also fills the $7 billion gap by boosting taxes on cigarettes and by creating a tax on sugared sodas, the so-called “fat tax” that was killed last year. Taxes and fees would also go up on some hospital and nursing home services. The state would legalize mixed martial arts competitions, and tax them. It would also install automated cameras in construction zones to churn out speeding tickets.