Gov. David Paterson sees New York's condition as "perilous,'' but the courage to balance the government's budget and priorities can create "a brighter, smarter future,'' though it could take months and even years.Funny then, that the state's budget is higher this year than last by more than a billion dollars and that much of that increase is the result of higher fees and taxes.
In his first State of the State address, Paterson called Wednesday for "shared sacrifice'' for a future where everyone has access to health care, excellent education and a good job and will breathe clean air and use clean energy.
"We still do not know the extent of the economic chaos that awaits us,'' Paterson told a joint session of the state Legislature. Noting New York entered a recession in August, he said an estimated 225,000 New Yorkers could lose their jobs before the crisis is over, and "the pillars of Wall Street have crumbled.''
Paterson already proposed a $121.1 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, up 1.1 percent, that includes layoffs, a cut in school aid and 88 new or higher fees.
"We cannot solve our problems overnight or without sacrifice -- they run too deep for that,'' Paterson said. "These problems may last for many more months or even years. But we can solve them.''
Paterson's trying to have it both ways - grow state government all while claiming that he's being fiscally responsible. The sad fact is that by New York standards, he's actually as fiscally responsible as they've come over the past several decades (including Republicans like George Pataki and Democrats like Mario Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer). He's increasing the size of the state budget, but just not as much as the rate of inflation. All the usual suspects - leftists, the unions, lobbyists - will raise a great stink about how their programs are being cut, even though they will still see more money this year than last.
New York truly is in bad financial shape, but Paterson's proposals aren't the solution; they're only sending the bill on to the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes and fees at a time when they can ill afford them.
The state is in such bad financial shape because Wall Street stopped being its cash cow/piggy bank. It isn't feeding Albany with its tax revenues fast enough, so they have to make the money up elsewhere, hence the taxes and fee proposals, including one on soft drinks.