Thursday, April 8, 2010

Addabbo: Budget Target Date Was Unrealistic - Queens Chronicle

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) called on the Legislature this week to put efficiency ahead of timeliness when it comes to crafting the state budget.

“Given the fact that we are facing the largest budget deficit in New York State history since the Great Depression and the religious holidays are this week, completing a complex budget by April 1 seems unrealistic,” Addabbo said just before the statutory deadline. “Therefore, I am more concerned about making the appropriate spending cuts and not raising taxes.”

The senator said he believes there is a unique opportunity to evaluate the efficiency of state agencies and to streamline the government.

The budget is burdened by a deficit that could be larger than $9.5 billion.In March, the Senate passed a property tax reduction measure. This legislation was an important first step and could provide property tax relief to more than 53,000 households in Addabbo’s district, he said. Now the issue becomes what cuts in spending need to be made in order to pay for the property tax reduction or any other restoration to the cuts proposed by Gov. David Paterson, Addabbo added.

In late March, the Senate passed its budget resolution to start negotiations. The senator said it included a rejection of the governor’s proposals to implement $1.1 billion in new taxes, a restoration of senior funding cuts, protection for state parks and a provision for property tax relief. It does not include the borrowing of monies to close the deficit.

Critics of the resolution point to the proposed $1.4 billion cuts to education and the lack of deep spending reductions. “This resolution is a starting point from which the budget gets negotiated,” Addabbo said. “I expect that after Democrats and Republicans come together to review budget alternatives and start to restore some of these proposed cuts, we will wind up in a slightly better place.”

Once the Legislature conference committees have completed their deliberations, legislative leaders will consider the reports of each. Addabbo said he believes the budget deficit will be addressed in an efficient and open manner that will protect vital services and not bring huge increases in the cost of living.

“Make no mistake, this is going to be a bad budget due to a bad economy,” he said. “Many credible programs will be cut and the state will have to do more with less. What is important is that these cuts must be restored when the state is fiscally able to do so. There is no valid reason we in the Legislature could not agree on a state budget in early April. We are all in this together, and by working together, I believe we will weather our state’s fiscal crisis.”