Gov. Paterson testified this morning at a congressional hearing, saying that the federal government should increase spending on health care, transportation projects, food stamps and unemployment benefits to help New York and other states recover from the economic slump.
“We are cutting all we can,” Paterson said to the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by his friend and neighbor, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-Harlem. “But the deficit is too voluminous for us to address.”
Paterson announced Tuesday that the state is facing a $1.5 billion budget gap for the fiscal year that ends March 31; $12.5 billion for the next fiscal year and $47 billion over the next three years.
The Democratic governor kicked off testimony by several governors before the panel, which is considering whether to approve a stimulus package to try to get the national economy moving.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford followed Paterson and warned House members against spending more to bail out states, many of which he said hadn’t controlled their spending. The Republican governor said it doesnâ€™t make sense to borrow “more to deal with a problem that was ultimately created by excessive borrowing.”
Paterson recognized that “We have in many respects mismanaged and need to put our own houses in order by cutting spending.”
But he continued that since the economic swoon was caused by the national sub-prime mortgage crisis, it “needs to be addressed holistically by the federal government investing in the states.”
New York has 40 road-and bridge projects and another 50 water projects “ready to go,” Paterson said, but doesn’t have the money to pay for them. He said paying for those would be a good investment for Washington to make.
The Legislature is due to return to the Capitol on Nov. 18 to consider Paterson’s plan to cut $2 billion in spending.
He has asked legislative leaders to come up with ideas to reduce spending by Nov. 7.
But Senate Republicans say it’s up to Paterson to make proposals first.
“We think it’s clear it’s his responsibility,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County.