After unveiling his $3 billion in budget cuts for this year (not to mention another $2 billion next) on Thursday, Governor Paterson is on the offensive, appearing on numerous radio and TV stations. Why the media blitz? Because some state lawmakers have complained about the cuts, leaving Paterson to fire back, "They can find all kinds of ways to spend money but never seem to be able to meet obligations."
The cuts aren't pretty—$686 million would be cut from schools ($223 million in NYC), $471 million from Medicaid—and State Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), the Finance Chairman, said Paterson's plan was "smoke and mirrors" and accused him of "hysteria." When Buffalo radio station asked him how he'd tame the budget, Paterson replied, "When legislators become responsible and grow up." And when WCBS 2 asked what will happen if he doesn't get the cuts he needs, the governor said, "What we have to do is delay payments to school districts." Sounds like the budget negotiations are going to be a real party!
Paterson also said on WOR AM, "You can't run away from your debt and obligations. If we get put in that position our credit rating will be downgraded. We won't be able to borrow at all. We won't be able to pay our school districts, our local governments so this is extremely serious. This is dire." Given that the state faces a $4.1 billion deficit for the year, the Times-Union pointed out yesterday that Paterson's budget plan doesn't go far enough: "The crisis -- a word that is absolutely appropriate for a state that faces the prospect of not having enough cash to pay its bills -- is not just big. It's a moving, growing target. And as soon as this year's problem is fixed, next year's will be waiting."