“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.