Wed, Nov 12, 2008
Lawmakers Dig In
Elizabeth Benjamin, The Daily Politics, NY Daily News
The outlook for Gov. David Paterson getting cooperation from the state Legislature on his $2 billion budget cutting plan at the Nov. 18 special session is so far not good.
One Republican senator boldly predicted the governor would be "embarrased" in Albany next week and questioned his wisdom in calling for such a massive reduction in spending at a time when control of the Senate remains in flux and there is little incentive for the GOP to play ball.
"He's not going to get what he wants," the senator said. "Nobody has come to terms with health care this and education that. I think he's setting himself up for a tremendous fall. He shouldn't have ever gone for $2 billion in November. He should have waited for the receipts to come in, and maybe he could have gotten away with $1 billion."
The talk from the Assembly Democrats is slightly less antagonistic. But there are nevertheless lines in the sand being drawn.
Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, an East Side Democrat, appeared on Fox 5 this morning and said: "There are things that we can do other than cuts."
While agreeing that "everything is on the table" and cuts are likely inevitable, Bing also said he's concerned about making sure that the cuts don't weigh to heavily on the people who can "least afford it."
Among the alternatives he suggested:
Collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations (Paterson all-but ruled that out yesterday, saying the legal battles waged by the tribes means it will take too long to realize any revenue here), and closing underutilized upstate prisons, which is something the upstate GOP lawmakers will certainly fight.
On education cuts, Bing said:
"I think that it has to be the last resort, we've been trying for so many years now, due to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, to raise money for education, to increase money."
"...I'm not saying the governor's wrong, I'm saying it has to be the absolute last resort. Everything we've done since I've been in office for the last six years has been trying to give New York City more money..for smaller class size and better education."
Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the stateâ€™s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >