Friday, May 21, 2010

What's the Holdup? by Lisa Fogarty - Queens Chronicle

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The state Senate is on the same page when it comes to passing the long-awaited budget, but leaders still differ on what expenses to cut and how to raise revenue, according to state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach).

“We’re seeing jobs in jeopardy every day that passes and school districts can’t finalize their budgets,” Addabbo said. “It becomes more problematic each day we don’t do the budget —that sentiment is really sinking in.”

One of the factors holding up the budget is disagreement over whether to offer homeowners property tax relief. Average homeowners have seen their property taxes increase, but there has been very little increase in seniors’ Social Security checks or workers’ pay, he said.

The senator said that waste is obviously a factor with a budget of upwards of $100 billion. While he has proposed looking at Medicare and insurance fraud, as well as multiple agencies that are doing similar or the same jobs, he said there is no way New York can cut its way out of a $9 billion deficit.

“There has to be another element —whether that means increasing taxes, borrowing money or creating new taxes,” he said.

While Addabbo is in favor of moving toward GAAP budgeting, which requires revenues to be recorded when they’re earned, he doesn’t believe it’s a major-enough shift to make a dent in the budget.

The Senate proposal to move its fiscal year from April 1 to June 1 would do little but keep the city from knowing how much state funding it will receive before finalizing its own budget, he said. “The last thing we need here is to make the budget even later.”

The senator will spend five days in Albany next week and said he hopes the final budget will be released soon after.