Paterson's Budget Deemed Dangerous?

From proposed tax increases on music downloads to the now famed "obesity tax" many New Yorkers are less than pleased with Gov. Paterson's suggested amendments.  And it's not just Republicans who are on the defensive; Democrats and independent members of the electorate are following suite with frustration directed at the Democratic governor during an already perplexing fiscal crunch.  And much like the electorate, elected officials are also voicing relevant concerns. According to the New York Daily News, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli claims that the governor's current budgetary plan will cut away one billion dollars from New York City over the next 15 months.  As per the Daily News:

In a preliminary review of Paterson's 2009-10 spending plan, DiNapoli found the city would lose $669 million in school aid and $328 million in general municipal aid under the governor's plan.

While DiNapoli's report is generally supportive of Paterson's budget, he expresses concern over the viability of proposed taxes and related means for bringing in the needed revenues that would close the budgetary gaps of concern.  As the city claims that disparities can be remedied through these mechanisms, others -- like DiNapoli -- aren't as confident. According to the Daily News, DiNapoli stated the following,

"It's a step in the right direction. But there are risks in the governor's plan."

DiNapoli's report stresses the strain these cuts will place on the city.  Joining in this recognition is Mayor Bloomberg and his administration:

The report backs up Mayor Bloomberg's claim that Paterson's budget was harsher to the city than the governor's office portrayed.

"The cuts should be proportional and New York City is being asked to bear a far greater burden than any other city in the state," Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said.

Then, there is New York State Senator Reverent Ruben Diaz.  Diaz -- a Democrat -- is highly critical of Paterson's budget cuts and deems them extremely detrimental to the state's most neediest communities.  While expressing his opposition to the governor's budget cuts, Diaz had this to say:

We have always blamed the Republicans for proposing cuts that abuse our communities. Yet, now that we, Democrats, are in the majority in the State legislature and we have a Democrat in the Governor's office, how can we continue to direct cuts to our communities and our people when we can confront the economic crisis in other ways. We cannot use the economic crisis as an excuse to continue to harm our communities while protecting the rich.

Abuse our communities?  One cannot actually believe that every tax dollar is being spent properly.  After all, there must be areas of improvement that can and must be targeted for optimal usage of tax payer dollars.  A funding cut in itself does not necessarily indicate "abuse" of a community, as Diaz implies.

Of course, I support Diaz's political perspective, but we are dealing with a crisis that calls upon all Americans -- and in the case New Yorkers -- to recognize the need to make reasonable budget cuts.  New York's current spending pattern involves taking in less than is spent and in the long term this nonsensical financing is simply unsustainable at the city, state and national levels.  It is disconcerting that some Democrats seem incapable of understanding this basic fact.

While making cuts is less than ideal, doing so at this juncture will ensure a more prosperous future.  If we do not act now, the sacrifices that will be required in the future will be monumentally more extreme.  Seeing decreases in funding affect education and needy communities is disconcerting, but the need for cuts is more pressing than most recognize it to be.

Raising taxes is never popular with Republicans, but Paterson has -- at the least -- met this crisis with a mentality that calls for a hybrid model, complete with cuts and increases.  Again, I am not championing either, but something must be done to ensure fiscal security.  These are surely atypical times.

Now is the time for New York City, New York State and the United States of America to cut corruption, reign in spending and figure out the viability and reliability of programs so that costs and benefits can be properly assessed.  The money pit is empty and refilling it means making more tailored decisions that truly meet the citizens' needs.

This piece was written for Billy Hallowell’s Red County blog located at http://www.redcounty.com/nyc