Lawmakers Seeking Agreement Today On State Budget Cuts

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The state Senate and Assembly are hoping to reach agreement today on cutting $1.6 billion from the state’s current 2008-09 budget to close this year’s gap.

“I hope to achieve an agreement today,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, told reporters this morning. “We’ve been conferencing it now for a week and a half. We’re down to the final crossing of the t’s and dotting the i’s.”

Lawmakers aren’t expected to make any major cuts to programs and services, but instead will sweep money from other agencies to cover the gap and maybe, Silver said, raise taxes on health insurance policies.

He reiterated that making substantial cuts could be risky as the state expects to get billions of dollars in federal stimulus aid.

“We don’t want to change in the drp (deficit reduction plan) how we treat health care going forward,” he said. “I think it’s important to take a look at the final federal stimulus package to see what’s in there before we make permanent cuts.”

If lawmakers close this year’s gap, they still have a $13.7 billion budget gap to close by April 1 for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Silver again pushed for a tax on the wealthy, saying it would bring in more than $1 billion for the state. The Assembly last year passed a measure that would increase income taxes on New Yorkers making more than $1 million a year.

Yet Silver wouldn’t say if he support lowering the threshold to $250,000, which some groups have wanted.

“Is it fair to ask the people who make more to pay a little more in this time of crisis? We’ve done it before. It hasn’t been a catastrophe,” he said.

Gov. David Paterson has opposed a tax on the wealthy.

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4 Comments

  1. Truly pathetic. Tax health insurance to make it even MORE expensive. Capitol idea. And they have yet even to begin to address the 14 billion dollar shortfall that they have to finalize by April 1. It’s all straight out of Kafka.

  2. the consultant on

    how about renegotiating all the union contracts as they
    are doing in Nassau County in light of the dire financial
    situation…if everyone working for the state and local
    municipalities was flexible..jobs could be saved..
    but there is not a chance in the world that any of
    these lawmakers will dare confront a special interest
    group

  3. Not only will they not dare confront these special interest groups (see lobbyists, huge campaign donations and election year union telephone banks) they continue to hire government workers, creating even more costs and taxes, all in the face of a possible depression with people losing their homes

  4. the consultant on

    The whole thing is backwards..from using the TARP to bail
    out the banks rather than bolstering the credit availability
    and stopping mortgage foreclosures..to taxing health
    care rather than renegotiating contracts..