A dark cloud of financial gloom is hanging over the heads of New York State taxpayers. Governor David Paterson is now offering some specifics on how he'd like to fix the multi-billion dollar problem. It's a $630 million hole in this year's budget that needs fixing and a looming deficit in the billions for the coming years if the problem is not addressed. The governor is calling for a hiring freeze and across the board cuts.
Cutting funding for schools and health care are unpopular but Governor Paterson says that may have to happen. "Nothing is off the table right now but we'll be talking to the school boards, the unions, the parents, everyone involved in the school process to see where we stand there," says Paterson.
Paterson's budget director says New York is officially in a recession now and less money coming into the State coffers means spending has to be cut as well. The immediate changes the governor wants include a hiring freeze and a seven percent across the board cut for in spending by state agencies. The governor is looking at some creative ways to save money too.
"I think what we're going to do is come to an agreement on ways to possibly sell off some state assets," says State Senator Dale Volker, R-Depew.
"We're not looking to sell state assets," says Paterson, "But in terms of lease back programs, management programs, we're just looking at ways to be more efficient."
Lawmakers may be reluctant to vote for cuts they know will be unpopular since all of them are up for re-election this year, but for now they say they're willing to consider almost anything. "No sacred cows. There should be no sacred cows," says Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, "The governor I guess has said everything's on the table. I think we have to look at everything."
One thing that is not being considered at this time is a tax increase. The governor and some lawmakers are pushing for a property tax cap to help homeowners.
More details of the governor's plan will be released in the coming days leading up to the August 19th special session of the legislature.