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New State Budget Proposal Due Today; Deep Cuts Likely

UPDATE, 11AM: The first numbers are out and they are not good news for local governments and school districts.

The Governor’s budget proposes to cut municipal aid to every village, town and city in Oswego County by 5%.  The cut to the city of Fulton would eliminate more than $88,000, while the cut to the city of Oswego would take away more than $133,000.

School aid would also be cut by 5%, though there is no breakout by individual districts to indicate whether the cut is across-the-board or whether some districts will take steeper cuts than others.

Governor Paterson holds a news conference folllowing a special session on Race to the Top legislation. Photo provided by the Governor's office.
Governor Paterson holds a news conference folllowing a special session on Race to the Top legislation. Photo provided by the Governor's office.

Gov. David Paterson today proposes a state budget for the next fiscal year, one that is likely to pull billions of dollars from education and state services and add some new taxes and fees in order to fill yet another huge gap between income and expenses.

The Governor unveils his budget at 11:00 a.m.

Schools are hoping Paterson keeps state aid to education flat, though they’re worried he’ll make big cuts in aid. Paterson cut state aid in the current budget, but used federal stimulus funds to make up the difference.

The Governor is expected to propose giving the state’s colleges more freedom to set their own tuition rates. He may also propose allowing a sport called mixed martial arts back into the state. Mixed martial arts is banned in the state at present. Paterson said allowing the popular spectator sport back into New York will bring needed tax dollars.

Meantime, Paterson and the Democrats running the state Legislature cannot agree on a plan that would give the state up to $700 million for education. The state’s application for money under the new federal program called Race To The Top is due by this afternoon.

Last night, the Assembly and Senate refused to take up Paterson’s bill calling for raising the limit on charter schools in the state to 460. A higher ceiling on charter schools is needed to quality for the federal funds. The Assembly and Senate favor raising the ceiling to only 400. Paterson said that will not be enough to qualify for the funds.

Paterson’s fight with his own party is helping him earn a second look from the state’s voters. A new poll from Marist College gives him a 31% approval rating, up 11 points in a month. He has gained positive numbers from people of both political parties. State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the presumptive lock to win a Democratic primary against Paterson for Governor this year, lost some of his overwhelming advantage over Paterson. 59% of voters back Cuomo, down from 75% just a month ago.