As predicted, Governor Paterson's budget plan to cut down the projected $15.4 billion budget gap is pretty draconian. Releasing it a month earlier than anticipated, he's giving everyone some time over the holidays to stew over it (or calm down about it) before they tackle it in earnest in January. According to the Times, the cuts include:
• $700 in education-aid cuts and a delay of some already-promised payments.
• Medicaid will be largely safe, but budget increases for hospitals and nursing homes would be cut by $1 billion.
• 521 state-agency workers will be laid off.
• Seven state agencies will be eliminated or merged.
• 137 new or increased taxes and fees will be instituted (including tax on sugary non-diet drinks, car rentals, beer and wine, cable TV, and cigars).
• Property-tax rebates will be canceled.
• New York City will lose some aid.
• Thirteen prison camps (they still call them that?) or detention centers will be closed.
Naturally, every single special interest facing a cut is going bonkers. Assembly Republicans say the middle class will be hit too hard by the new taxes and fees, and unions are bracing for a battle. And you know the worst part? It snowed today, briefly. It was those big, beautiful snowflakes that make everyone in your office stand by the windows quietly for a few minutes. It almost felt like Christmas! But then it stopped and the snow melted as quickly as it had fallen.