Governor David Paterson announced his long awaited Deficit Reduction Plan this afternoon and 44% of his plan is comprised of across-the-board cuts to local assistance totaling $1.3 billion. In other words, he has chosen to shift the problems in state government - overspending, increased taxation for useless programs, and government waste - and has passed these problems on to localities to pay for. Because it is too late in the year for local governments to raise their taxes, they will most likely be forced to lay off people from their workforce. Rather than blindsiding municipalities already suffering with their own economic problems with unexpected and massive cuts in assistance, the governor should be looking for cuts in the state workforce and some of their incredible salaries.
Included in this $1.3 billion in local assistance cuts, the governor has instituted a 4.5% cut in school aid to school districts, which have historically been suburban. The governor should be making a smaller percentage of cuts straight across the board. The governor also cut over $22 million in community college base operating aid; $287 million in Medicaid; $14 million in child health plus; and $1 million in cancer initiatives. This is the governorís way of passing his problems onto others, rather than fixing them at the state level where they originated.
There are many other ways the governor can reduce the stateís deficit without eliminating aid for localities. For starters, he could include consolidating certain state agencies, empowering localities to decide which optional Medicaid services they provide, reducing Non-Personal Services spending and eliminating Legislative Earmarks to achieve $3 billion in budgetary savings.
I call on the governor to re-evaluate his plan and deal with the issues that have been brought upon this state at the state level, through state budget cuts and government reform.