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January 30, 2010 - 1:20am

Gov. Paterson Summarizes State Budget

Last week, I proposed an Executive Budget for 2010-2011 that includes a spending cap to control state spending.  Tied to that cap is a property tax circuit breaker that would provide property tax refunds to New York's working families.  The spending cap will impose long-term fiscal discipline by forcing state government to live within its means.  The cap puts New York State on a path to economic recovery that will lead to future budget surpluses -- which will then be returned to taxpayers through property tax relief. 

My 2010-2011 Executive Budget not only meets, but will exceed the requirements of my spending cap. Under my proposed budget, expenditures for the coming fiscal year would be far below the rate of inflation. Additionally, if enacted by the Legislature, my spending cap would require sufficient spending cuts to generate a more than $1 billion surplus in the 2011-12 fiscal year. This is great news for both the fiscal health of our State, and you, our taxpayers, as I will return this surplus to you through a progressive, circuit-breaker tax credit that will place billions of dollars in property tax relief directly into your pockets.

The circuit-breaker benefit included in my proposal would be calculated by limiting your property tax burden to a specified percentage of your income. That percentage would decrease based on the size of the State’s surplus. And as New York’s fiscal condition improves, the circuit-breaker program could provide you with an increasingly larger benefit, since you would pay an increasingly smaller percentage of your income in property taxes.

The amount of recipients and the average value of the benefit would increase based on the size of the State’s budget surplus. At the close of each fiscal year, the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance would calculate the benefit after the Division of the Budget has certified the size of the surplus and directed a portion to the Rainy Day Fund. Average projected benefits are included below:

Surplus

Recipients

Average Tax Credit

$100M -$500M

868,000

$589

$500M-$1B

1,063,000

$943

$1B-$1.5B

1,322,000

$1,129

$1.5B-$2B

1,668,000

$1,188

$2B-$3B

2,125,000

$1,405


In order to provide real property tax relief to everyday New Yorkers, this initiative would also require local school districts to do their part to control spending. Therefore, the circuit-breaker proposal includes a provision to encourage fiscal responsibility at the local level by pressing localities to keep spending and property tax bills under control.

I have long stated my commitment to bringing New York’s fiscal house back in order. And just like all of you, I am working hard on your behalf to control our State’s spending. It is now up to the Legislature to enact these proposals that will generate surpluses for years to come, and will bring property tax relief directly to you and your families.

Howard B. Owens
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C.M., rather than just repeat what the governor said -- what do you make of this?
C. M. Barons
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It sounds like the governor is offering not only a responsible budget, a plan to reduce future spending and a built in guage to measure the restraint of the other two statehouses: if the senate and assembly moderate their tendency toward fiscal irresponsibility, the taxpayers get a rebate. When the taxpayers don't get a rebate, they know who to blame. Sorry, Howard, I tend toward old school. When I post a news item, I consciously keep my two-cents out of it. ...Save my comments for the comment section- just a habit.
Howard B. Owens
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You have a broad range of knowledge. Your posts are most valuable when they bring perspective and insight.
Sean Valdes
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C.M. - I'm curious - why do you think the governor is taking this approach? Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to see him tackling this issue - and I agree that the idea that he's proposing seems to be a step in the right direction towards fiscally sound governing, but the governor must know that he's digging his political grave with this. Republicans certainly aren't going to embrace him, and the Democrats don't seem to keen on him either. It's like he's setting himself up to be a martyr - but I don't see any virgins waiting for him.
Dave Olsen
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I'd love to be wrong, but I think it's same-o, same-o political manipulation for an election year. The Gov puts out a budget that contains what he thinks people want to hear. This year it's spending restraint and building a surplus to be used for tax cuts later; all the while knowing the legislature won't pass it. The 2 houses then say they can't pass his budget, because he wants to hurt schools, firemen, police, nursing homes, hospitals etc etc. Then they meet, have a compromise, blame each other for an out of control budget, and we the serfs and peons get screwed. Past performance is an indicator of future hose jobs. this is why I continue to say " Throw them all out, damn the repercussions"
C. M. Barons
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Dave, you may be right. There is plenty of justification for your doubt. ...And Sean is on target as well. Two factors lead me to a more positive forecast. The governor, unlike virtually anonymous members of the Senate and Assembly, is the fall-guy for most of the budget woes; he is alone and ripe for the tar and rail. He's already thrown down the gauntlet three times: he was pilloried for advocating cuts, he was pilloried for advocating revenue boosts, he was ignored when he ordered the senators/assemblymen back to deal with the shortfall. He may not have the two houses on-board, but he has the support of the New York press and the public is coming around, recognizing who is/isn't actively trying to solve the financial mess we are in. Because the governor has the disdain of Democrats and Republicans, and especially since Obama urged him not to run; Paterson earns high marks for credibility. When the hopeless come out fighting, it's not in the garb of those pandering for re-election. Paterson will be seen clad in the armor of an underdog fighting gridlock that has made our state a poster child for unresponsive government. That role will unnerve the Senators and Assemblymen who think their own encumbancy is fool-proof. The wildcard is the public: will they speak out in extraordinary fashion, call/write/email their representatives and demand that the governor's budget pass? Bullsh*t walks- ya know?
Howard B. Owens
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When a politician has nothing to lose, it can mean that he is free to do what he really thinks is right. At this time, we don't know if Gov. Paterson is trying to do what he thinks is right or grasping at straws. If he has a "hell with it" attitude -- everybody is going to hate me, so I don't need to pander to special interests any more -- that might just be what this state needs ... a governor so alienated from the traditional power structures that he can use his bully pulpit to push through real reform. Or that could just be wishful thinking.
Chris Charvella
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He stole the 'circuit breaker' moniker from the Working Families Party tax relief plan, even though this plan doesn't resemble the other, I doubt that it was a coincidence. Sadly, I have to agree with Dave here; this will go to the Legislature and be shredded to pieces by folks who want to win their re-election campaigns. The Governor is unpopular and any State Senator or Assemblyman who votes with him, particularly in districts that look like ours, will immediately become the weakest link in the governmental food chain. I expect a press release from Assemblymen Hawley and Burling any day now explaining somehow that tax relief in this form is a bad thing and the Governor got it wrong again.
Dave Olsen
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You do write very well, C.M. While reading your second comment, I pictured Paterson with a breastplate and cape, sword raised, wind blowing the cape back, standing on a cliff; Braveheart style war paint on his face, shouting "Fiscal Discipline". Not being sarcastic, I really had that picture. I hope you are right.

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