Last week, I told Governor Paterson and my constituents that this years budget must look at what the state can afford and what is absolutely necessary for the continued survival of this state while also providing essential services to New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the governor seemed to completely ignore this advice when he unveiled his $134 billion budget to the legislature and taxpayers earlier this week. Unless corrective action is taken, this budget will push New York over the brink of fiscal security and force even more families and businesses to leave Nassau County and New York State.
In the few days since releasing his budget, I have heard the governor say that he is toeing the line on fiscal responsibility and making tough choices to cut the state budget. But it is rather disingenuous for him to say he is cutting state government when this years budget increases spending over last years.
Even when one takes inflation into account, this budget still spends more than last year. In fact, this budget is almost $12 billion more than what the governor proposed last year, before Sheldon Silver and Malcolm Smith added line items to appease their members to the tune of $10 billion. When all was said and done, we had to come back in November to pass a deficit reduction plan (DRP), which borrowed money from this year to pay for last years programs. The end result was a $7.4 billion deficit for this year, which will ultimately add $2.7 billion to our current $54.8 billion state debt.
More important is the fact that this budget does nothing to create jobs in New York. For too long now, New Yorks economy has been on the decline; the past few years have been even worse due to a lack of innovation and leadership coming from the governors office. By taxing soda and other sugary drinks, the governor will destroy many local breweries and other beverage makers. By putting wine in gas stations and grocery stores, he will force thousands of small businesses to close their doors for good. And when he adds a tax on health care plans, he will force businesses to raise premiums or cut coverage for their employees.
In my opinion, there was not one idea in the governors proposed budget which would put New Yorkers back to work or exercise any fiscal restraint. Increased debt, increased taxes and increased spending are not the solutions to the problems which face New York. Governor Paterson tried to spend his way out of our problems last year and it didnt work. This year, we must demand better of ourselves and the state leaders and work together to find new solutions which bring together all parties and provide equitable results during these tough times.