Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the 2010 fiscal year budget yesterday and acknowledged that that his proposed sales tax hike, which would raise the tax rate to 8.875%, is no fun. During the press conference, he said, "It is true that sales tax, if you have the same rate, is a regressive tax, but the bottom line is, the people that have more money buy a lot more things, and they spend a lot more of it. Is it a good tax? No. None of these taxes are good taxes... I'm not happy about raising any tax."

The exemption on sales tax for clothing and shoes under $110 would also be eliminated, and all told, the mayor hopes to raise nearly $1 billion in revenue from the tax hike. According to the NY Times, the Independent Budget Office estimates a household making $35,000/year "would have to pay an extra $129 a year in sales taxes...A household making $125,000 would pay an additional $356 a year, and one making $500,000 would pay $840 more." City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually a friend of Bloomberg, criticized the tax hike as "a regressive way to generate revenue because it places an unfair burden on those who have the least," while City Comptroller William Thompson, who is running for mayor, said the hike would "balance the budget on the backs of the small business owners and hardworking, middle-class residents of this city." And the Retail Council of New York State's Ted Protrikus said, "It could make the consumer say: ‘You know what? I’ll buy my underwear in Paramus next week.'"

The proposed 2010 budget clocks in a $59.4 billion and aims to close the projected $4 billion budget deficit. About $400 million would be gained revising a pension tier and a 5-cent fee on plastic bags would raise $100 million. The city also estimates a "headcount reduction that now totals 13,541 employees - 9,782 via attrition and 3,759 via layoffs." There are various other cuts—libraries, for instance, will be hit again—and the Post mentioned one way the city cutting back: "To save $400,000, the Correction Department is reducing the number of bread slices each inmate receives each day from 12 to eight. One city official said the measure was designed not just to reduce the agency's budget but also inmates' waistlines. 'Who else eats a dozen slices of bread a day?' the official asked."

The City Council—not to mention Albany— will have a say in many of the proposed ideas in the proposal. A NY Times editorial called the budget "gloomy" but acknowledges it's the ugly, reality-based budget that politicians usually don't like giving during election years (implicitly giving Bloomberg credit). The editorial also points out that Bloomberg abandoned raising taxes for higher income brackets since Albany is already doing that with its budget. The Daily News editorial tells readers that "you sacrifice...Meanwhile, public employee unions have sacrificed exactly nothing in the cause of making state and city expenses the slightest bit more affordable."

The Post's editorial doesn't like the tax hike, of course, but gives credit to Bloomberg and the City Council for a relatively more open process: "One thing's for sure: City Hall is not Albany -- where budget negotiations drag on forever, never in good faith and with nary an attempt to solve long-term structural problems."