Today promises to be another painful and chaotic day in the life of New York State.
Gov. Paterson will propose another $3 billion in spending cuts today to fill a budget deficit for the current year.
The State Comptroller warned Wednesday that if something’s not done soon, the gap will be more than $4 billion and the state may have to borrow money just to pay next month’s bills.
“I said in April that this was a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbuy timeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ budget, and now time is up,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. “This budget simply has not held together. Most New Yorkers understand they cannot spend more than they make. The state needs to adopt that kind of common sense. If we stay on the current path, New York will run out of cash. This situation must be addressed.”
DiNapoli said that income tax receipts are smaller than projected. With unemployment at nearly 10 percent, lots of people are not paying income taxes right now. Also, Wall Street’s slow rebound deprives the state of money from its largest single source. 20% of state revenues come from taxes on the financial sector and its employees.
Paterson’s not offering hints of what he plans to ask the Legislature to cut, but cuts to services and state jobs is almost inevitable. Schools, which received a boost in aid in the current budget despite deep cuts elsewhere, will be watching nervously.
Governor Paterson asked state lawmakers for ideas on what to cut. Republicans, in the minority in both houses of the Legislature, replied with a list of proposed cuts to state agencies, including cutting more than a billion dollars from the state Department of Health and $200 million from the Education Department.
Republicans also added an I-told-you-so about the $2.1 billion that Democrats put back into the original budget that Gov. Paterson had cut: “Democrats’ decision to raise taxes and spending hurt our economy, caused more pain for taxpayers, and still left us with an enormous budget deficit,” said Republican Minority Leader Dean Skelos in an e-mailed statement.
Paterson will unveil his plans for deep cuts at 1:00 p.m. in a news conference that will be webcast live.
Democrats could, in theory, rush into the Senate and Assembly chambers an enact his package of cuts, and they may want to. The Senate’s balance of power could be upset by 3:30 p.m. That’s when a judge issues his verdict in the non-jury trial of Sen. Hiram Monserrate of Queens, accused of slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken bottle during a domestic dispute.
If Monserrate, a Democrat, is found guilty of a felony he is automatically removed from the Senate. If that happens, the chamber will be tied again at 31 members per party and gridlock is certain to ensue until Monserrate is replaced. If he’s found guilty of a reduced misdemeanor charge, Senators can seek to throw him out, but it’s not automatic.