Custom Search

Saturday, November 29, 2008

N.Y. budget cuts needed but they should be fair

Paterson's proposal leaves school districts in lurch with mid-year aid reduction

Under normal circumstances, New York state legislators would be thinking about a pay raise this time of year. The biennial legislative elections are over. Legislators haven't had an increase in their $79,500 base pay since 1999. In the afterglow of political victory and before the legislative session starts in January, this is the time to try to go for the dough without stirring up too much venom from voters.

But these are not normal circumstances. And legislators know it. When they travel to Albany for a special session starting Tuesday, lawmakers should leave behind any thoughts of plus signs -- for their salaries or any other expenses. Gov. David Paterson is looking for minus signs, and that is what lawmakers had better be prepared to provide but within reason.

Paterson's proposed cuts last week could make this session more contentious that the congenial special session in August when lawmakers and the governor agreed on spending cuts of nearly $427 million from the 2008-09 state budget and a total of $1 billion when taking into account reductions in succeeding years.

At the time, it looked like enough to get lawmakers through the current fiscal year ending March 30, but the nation's deepening recession means more cuts. One of those proposed would be to aid for schools, which means local districts that already have budgeted the money would receive less than promised. Paterson's financial team has suggested those districts can turn to reserves to make up the difference, but in cases where districts cannot cover from the reserves, they would likely have to borrow and then go to voters in May with a budget that would include loan payoffs. read more...

No comments:

Post a Comment