Governor Paterson, probably fruitlessly, today demanded that $5.2 billion in budget cuts be made over the next sixteen months, focusing on Medicaid and education. Those two areas represent the vast majority of state spending. “We’re not going to get out of this quagmire we’ve built until we reduce our spending,” he said. Legally, the state budget must be balanced — but already health-care and teacher’s unions have laid the groundwork to fight him on this. Unions that include state workers are also planning to fight his request that they forego their annual 3 percent pay increase this year. For the fiscal year ending in March, the state faces a $1.5 billion deficit. But next year it’s expected to balloon to $12 million — which will require even more drastic cuts. Yesterday, Paterson even suggested raising the gas tax to help bridge the gap — something that’s sure to be unpopular with all voters who drive.
You know what’s comical? The man that Eliot Spitzer brought along to make himself more likable in Albany is now the one who has to do the most ball-busting we’ve seen in decades. Except, no wait, that’s not comedy, is it …
Paterson Calls for $5.2 Billion in Budget Cuts [City Room/NYT]
Earlier: David Paterson Facing a World of Trouble Over Budget Cuts