In a conference call with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this morning, Governor David Paterson outlined the cuts he'd like to make in the state budget to help close the projected $6.4 billion budget gap. Among his main targets were aid initiatives to local governments (a 6 percent cut would save the state $250 million) and discretionary funding at the state level (a 50 percent cut in spending on pet projects would save $100 million). But his biggest cut was saved for Medicaid. Paterson wants to lower a proposed increase in state spending on health care by $506 million. It would still be a 2 percent increase from last year, but it would hit hospitals, nursing homes, and home care the hardest. Since public-school funding is safe for now, the Medicare cuts are likely to be his most unpopular proposal. Remember those ads with the irate nurses and home-care workers that were always on TV last year?
It's likely to be the unions for these workers that will fight Paterson's proposed cuts, as they did when Spitzer made a similar move. But Azi Paybarah reports in the Observer that the governor has done a better job of cozying up to 1199 SEIU lately, so he may have better luck. Now is the time that his lovable reputation is really going to be put to the test.
Paterson Proposes Billion in Cuts [City Room/NYT]
Paterson's Medicaid Cuts Preceded by Rousing Speech to 1199 [NYO]