New York's governor and legislative leaders are defending their budget deal, saying it makes tough choices at a time when the state's revenues are dwindling by week. The nearly $132 billion plan contains about $5 billion in cuts, and $5 billion in new taxes, including some on the wealthy. Governor Paterson, who had long opposed the millionaire's tax, says the final deal is a fair one.
'I think balance now between taxes on those with higher income and taxes on everybody so that there's a shared sacrifice.'
Brooklyn Republican State Senator Marty Golden decried all the new taxes in the budget and said Democrats are being irresponsible.
'This stimulus, this $25B, ends within 25-27 months. After that stimulus is gone, we walk into the abyss. There is no structural deficit dealt with in this budget.'
But Governor David Paterson refuted that view. Speaking to reporters, he said the budget reflects a reduction in state spending that does not depend on stimulus money. And he says if the legislature can maintain the restraint over the next few years the state will be able to ride out the recession.
Paterson says the taxes were necessary to bridge a gap that's now ballooned to $17.7 billion. Last April, the projected deficit was just $5 billion. Some items were spared the budget axe, including $170 million in member spending. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says his members use the money for important non-profits hit hard by the recession.
"Food pantries, homeless shelters, legal service programs, are dealing with skyrocketing demand, and we feel we had to continue providing local funding to them."