Paterson unveils his doomsday budget

December 16, 2008 5:40:17 PM PST
Gov. David Paterson is calling for some tax hikes, layoffs and a cut in school aid in the state budget proposal. Paterson's $121 billion budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year would mostly hold overall spending flat from the current fiscal year.

In order to accomplish that, Paterson wants to cut school aid by nearly $700 million and eliminate more than 3,000 state jobs, mostly through attrition even though his budget calls for 521 layoffs.

The governor's budget surprisingly has no income tax hike for anybody in New York, not even a millionaire's tax.

But it does have three billion dollars in new fees and taxes that will nickel and dime everyone:
The wine tax goes from 19 to 51 cents a gallon.

The beer tax goes from 11 cents a gallon to 24 cents.

Registering a car rises from 44 to 55 dollars.

Movie tickets, cable and satellite tv will face a sales tax.

The governor tried to make light of it all by recalling that recent shoe-throwing incident in Iraq involving President Bush.

"I don't know what prompted that action, but I would certainly assert that at the end of this budget presentation if that's the most severe punishment I get, I'll sign for it now," he joked.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, though, isn't laughing at how the governor's budget treats New York City.

Paterson is cutting more than 200-million in city aid, enough to hire more than four thousand police officers.

"It does appear some of these cuts are falling disproportionally to the city. Our revenue aid is cut far more than any other county," Bloomberg said.

Even worse, the city claims Paterson's gutting public schools in the city with another 620-million cut.

Parents are frustrated at how the economic crisis is hitting all of us.

"So this massive cut that's coming now means not doing more with less, but doing less with less," Allord Allah said.

"It does not make sense to harm the children because of mistakes that were made on Wall Street," Lisa Donlan said.

One big surprise in the governor's budget is letting grocery stores sell wine. That means more wine sold, more tax money for the state.

Paterson is also wants to fight obesity while raising taxes in a proposal for an 18 percent tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

The idea is to discourage consumption of high-caloric beverages and to raise $404 million in fiscal year 2009-2010 toward the state's multibillion dollar budget gap.

Paterson says the proposal would raise $539 million in 2010-2011.

According to state officials, almost one in four New Yorkers under age 18 are obese, and at higher risk for illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax, saying it would most harm the middle class. The group also argues that it doesn't make sense to single out a single food product as the cause for obesity.

New York governor's usually don't release their budget proposals until January. But Paterson is presenting the budget a month early to try to deal with what he calls a historic fiscal crisis facing the Empire State.