Pretty Much Everybody Hates Budget Plan by Paterson, Silver, and Smith

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Smith and Silver. Photo: Getty Images

Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Smith, and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith emerged from behind closed doors to announce their budget plan yesterday. The entirely opaque process, during which special interests and most legislators were kept in the dark, ended with a $131.8 billion deal. To close the nearly $17 billion deficit, the trio proposed a series of new taxes on the wealthy (hikes start at $300,000 for families and $200,000 for single filers), and fees across the board. Rather than taking advantage of $7 billion in federal-stimulus money to avoid tax hikes, they increased spending by nearly 9 percent. And even though the economy has cratered since last year, this budget is actually slightly larger than last year's and includes $170 million for pork. So how did this go over in the morning papers?

• Frederic U. Dicker says the plan will "set New York back 30 years." Not only will the budget push businesses and the wealthy from the state, he warns, but "Paterson — whose 19 percent job-approval rating has driven him into the arms of the leftist Working Families Party and public-employee unions he hopes will help him win election next year — was openly mocking government accountability, claiming with breathtaking chutzpah that by keeping negotiations secret, he was following the wishes of the press." [NYP]

• The Post's John Wilson points out that the Working Families Party, largely credited with pushing this "fair tax reform" through, is a carefully constructed tool of the unions, who hold almost all of the seats on its advisory board and provide more than half of its funding. The party also commonly enters into influential paid-consulting agreements with Democrats. "If the new state budget deal is a high way robbery of New York taxpayers," he observes, "then the Working Families Party is driving the getaway car." [NYP]

• The Newsday editorial board laments the "many surprises" that came out of the closed-door budget meetings. "The recent fight over control of the Senate raised fears about dominance by city Democrats," they warn, pointing fingers at Silver, Smith, and Paterson, who all hail from New York. "Those fears may well be coming true." [Newsday]

• The Daily News editorial board calls the whole deal "rotten sausage." "Had Paterson, Silver and Smith been responsible, they would have held increased spending to the rate of inflation, applied the stimulus to that target and cut wasteful programs. Instead, they used the federal aid to boost spending, knowing full well that the money runs out in two years. What then? Heck, what now?" they write. "The final disgrace is that Paterson, Silver and Smith acknowledge that tax collections are continuing to drop. The state will not be able to pay the bills the governor and lawmakers are committing to. In that sense the budget is worse than irresponsible, it's also a fraud." [NYDN]

• “The disappointment from the business community is that the Legislature doesn’t seem to understand how serious this crisis is, and that it threatens our future,” Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City told the Times. “The response — of holding the state budget basically harmless — just doesn’t fly with people who are cutting salaries, laying people off and aren’t sure where their business is going.” [NYT]

• Jacob Gershman observed that Sheldon Silver, who until this year has been able to hide behind Republican foes in the governor's mansion or State Senate, has tripped up by encouraging the secretive budget negotiations. "You can hear a quiet grumbling among Silver's members, who say the secret negotiations marked a return of the sort of dictatorial style that led to an attempted coup on his leadership nine years ago." [NYP]

• Bill Hammond agrees that the Democrats have committed a grave error. "Republicans - shut out of the inner circle for the first time since the 1930s — can do little but gnash their teeth on the sidelines. Inside, though, they're chuckling diabolically. They know just how much political dynamite the Democrats are handing them by passing this ridiculously bloated, irresponsible budget." [NYDN]

• The only people Michael Daly could think of who would be pleased with this new budget are those who depend on the deposits doled out for recycling bottles. Under the new plan, deposits will be given back for non-carbonated beverages, like water. [NYDN]