Wednesday, August 04, 2010

New York Finally Approves Bloated State Budget More Than Four Months Late

New York is required to have a budget in place by April 1. The reality is that anything within two months of that date is considered normal. The state budget this year was finally adopted yesterday. Four months and three days late, The $136.5 billion budget came within days of the all time record for late budgets in New York.
The final party-line vote -- 32 to 28 -- arrived after the sun had set on a dizzying day of last-minute negotiations, one-house bills that have almost no chance of passage in the Assembly, and frenzied efforts to round up two Democratic senators who spent much of the day missing in action.

In other words, it was a fairly typical day in the Senate, which all year has veered between chaos and inertia due to the Democrats' razor-thin 32-to-30-seat majority.

In order to pass the revenue plan that for more than a month has been the remaining piece of the budget puzzle, Democrats needed all 32 votes on deck. Senate Republicans have been rejecting almost all spending measures en masse this summer.

The Democrats' dilemma was put into stark relief early Tuesday when one of their more unpredictable members, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, announced he would stay away unless the conference took up two of his measures: a farmworkers bill of rights and legislation relating to New York City rent control.

By 2 p.m., Espada had relented and traveled to Albany. But hours into session, it became apparent that another senator, Manhattan's Tom Duane, hadn't appeared in the chamber for key votes.

It turned out he had sequestered himself in his office, holding out for his own housing bill to be taken up.

Eventually, both measures were brought to the floor Tuesday -- presumably in order to get Espada and Duane's votes on the budget.

The two temporary delays came as another human logjam was clearing: Buffalo's William Stachowski, who for a month had been denying his budget vote in exchange for a push to give individual SUNY and CUNY campuses greater autonomy to raise tuition on their own, gave up his holdout.
So, what does this mean for New York taxpayers?

Well, more taxes and fees of course to feed a budget that is 2.4% more than last year's seriously bloated budget - and yet its backers claim that this is a fiscally prudent budget that closed the deficit? It comes with $1 billion in new taxes and fees.
The legislation will eliminate a sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear purchases of less than $110 starting on Oct. 1. That was by far the largest piece of the bill passed Tuesday night; it is expected to raise about $330 million.

The legislation also expands tax breaks for film production companies and requires online travel companies to collect sales taxes on hotel rooms.

The governor, through a spokesman, hailed the passage of the budget.

“Today the state finalized a budget that closes a $9.2 billion budget gap,” said Morgan Hook, Mr. Paterson’s communications director. “This was done primarily through spending cuts and with no borrowing.”

“A fiscally responsible budget,” Mr. Hook added, “will help our state turn the corner on this economic crisis and put us on a path to recovery.”
All that spending without so much as a wink or nod to fiscal responsibility. Consumers are going to be on the hook for paying tax on clothing sales that were previously exempt.

Where are the spending cuts if the budget increased 2.4%? The $1 billion in tax hikes wont cover the 2.4% budget increase. At most the $1 billion covers 7% of the budget or about 30% of the increase in spending over last year. The budget size is irresponsible on its face, and if the projected revenues don't come in as anticipated, the state will find itself in an even bigger hole than last year.

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