Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New York City Fears Return to 1970s-like Decay

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While many U.S. cities worry that their economies are deteriorating to the level of the 1930s Great Depression, New York City fears reliving a more recent decade that features strongly in city lore.

The 1970s were a low point in city history as a fiscal crisis almost pushed it into bankruptcy, crime rates soared, and homeless people crowded sidewalks as public services crumbled.

Almost 1 million people fled New York's Mean Streets during the decade for the safer, more stable suburbs, a population decline that took more than 20 years to reverse.

When discussing the current crisis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now seeking a third term, promises that he will not allow the city to return to the darkness of those days, although he stresses that it faces "giant financial problems."

"I know some are concerned that city services will erode," he recently told reporters. "Let me remind you that the city went down that road in the 1970s ... I can just tell you that we are not going to make that mistake again."

But behind the rhetoric, there are signs of a city under growing stress, including a rise in homelessness that's driving more families to shelters and last year's 57 percent spike in bank robberies.

There were 444 bank robberies in 2008 compared with 283 in 2007
, according to the city Police Department.

A Bank of America branch in Manhattan near Rockefeller Center said it has posted a sign asking its customers to remove sunglasses, hoods and hats before entering, one of the anti-crime measures the police department recommended.

As city revenues slide with the demise of Wall Street firms, the mayor, an independent, has slashed spending by all agencies and there's more to come.

The budget plan drawn up by New York State Governor David Paterson will cost the city $1.6 billion in cuts and force it to lay off thousands of police officers, firefighters and teachers, Bloomberg warned last week.

The mayor has already said he will cut $3.6 billion, or 6 percent, from next year's $60 billion budget.

Wall Street's financial industry is one of the city's biggest taxpayers but it has lost more than $36 billion in the last two years and may eventually shrink its work force by 25%, the mayor said.

That will deprive the city of billions of dollars in lost tax revenues, including the mini-bonanzas it gets when securities firms pay bonuses every year.

Factoring in layoffs at the many service companies from law firms to shops that rely on Wall Street, the city could lose as many as 243,000 jobs from 2008 to 2010, economists say.

Meanwhile, raising funds has become harder for many states and cities around the nation as the tax-exempt bond market has been caught up in the broader financial market crisis.

Despite its high-credit status as semi-sovereign debt, the $2.7 trillion muni market has lost some of its biggest buyers -- banks, hedge funds and insurers. Many of them have lost money and need cash to shore up their balance sheets.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns has returned the muni market to retail investors, its traditional client, but demand has been inconsistent.

Many individuals lost confidence in municipal bond insurers after their top ratings were slashed and were stung by last year's collapse of the auction-rate securities market.

New York City is one of the nation's premier issuers of municipal bonds and although capital markets have not temporarily locked it out as they have California, the city has slashed its average bond sales by a third. So instead of selling $1 billion at once, it now sells just $300 million.

Still, the city can take heart from its experience of previous downturns, according to Harrison Goldin, the Democrat who began his first of four terms as city comptroller in 1974.

New York "has proven time and time again its enormous resiliency," said Goldin, who left office in 1989 and opened a turnaround consulting firm.

"The city, obviously, is looking at a deteriorating economy and eroding revenues, but it has a full handle and grasp on the extent of the problems. As painful and difficult as they may be, it is in a position to act pre-emptively and to avoid ending up in the sewer."

There are more safeguards than before, perhaps most notably in helping the poor get health care. Dr. Unsup Kim of Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens cited the development of trauma centers and programs for outpatients with chronic diseases as two key developments since he began running the public hospital's surgical department over 30 years ago.

Though narcotics-related violence has fallen and gunshot victims are more likely to survive, thanks to faster ambulatory times and medical advances, gangs can still be troublesome, Kim said. He cited the recent stabbing of an 18-year old in a fight that the patient said involved 20 people.

When the economy bloomed, Bloomberg was the nation's first politician to save money for public retirees' health care.

Monitors praise him for this and for improving high school graduation rates, cutting crime and refusing to sell assets to close budget holes. Investors eventually balked in the 1970s when the city was issuing debt to pay operating expenses.

But Bloomberg is faulted for granting city workers overly generous pay hikes and approving too many real estate developments that have fallen apart in the credit crunch.

Though Wall Street's misdeeds pushed the global economy to the brink, the mayor says the city needs its talent. So he aims to help these workers become entrepreneurs or learn green jobs. That will increase employment faster than pouring money into infrastructure, which is unlikely to offer openings to office workers and clerks, he said.

Reporting by Joan Gralla.
Editing by Jan Paschal.
Editorial Voice by Empire Lost New York

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ever wonder why New York State has the highest taxes in the U.S.?

January 27, 2009
Ex-Surgeon General Accused of Abusing Staff
ALBANY — Gov. George E. Pataki’s appointment of Antonia C. Novello, a former surgeon general, as state health commissioner in 1999 was seen as something of a coup for New York.

An appointee of President George H. W. Bush who was the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as surgeon general, Dr. Novello was praised even by the Clinton administration for her “vigor and talent” and promised to bring new attention to pediatric health.

But the New York State inspector general’s office says that she turned her staff at the Health Department into her personal chauffeurs, porters and shopping assistants during her seven-year tenure, and has referred a criminal case, including potential felony charges, to the Albany County district attorney.

A report from the office of Inspector General Joseph Fisch to be released Tuesday depicts Dr. Novello as preoccupied with shopping and routinely abusive of her authority over employees, ordering them to buy her groceries, pick up her dry cleaning and even water her houseplants.

On one occasion, Dr. Novello purchased a heavy statue of Buddha during a shopping excursion in Troy, N.Y., then required a Health Department security guard to move it into her apartment, and then a few days later move it to another spot in her home because she didn’t like how it looked, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The guard told investigators that he often had to ask his teenage son to help him move her furniture around.

Dr. Novello also ordered a Medicaid fraud investigator in her department to drive her on trips to Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. On numerous occasions she had state workers drive her or her mother from the Albany area to Newark Liberty International Airport, roughly 300 miles round trip, to fly to Puerto Rico for personal business. When traveling between state offices in New York City and Albany, she liked to stop at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y., and she is also accused of using state workers to take her on excursions to three malls in the Albany area.

Security guards who acted as her drivers told state investigators that she would embarrass and yell at them if they did not do things the way she wanted and expected them to be at her beck and call at all hours.

Dr. Novello, 64, declined to comment Monday. She has hired a top criminal defense lawyer in the capital, E. Stewart Jones, to handle the case.

“I don’t believe that anything she did was unjustified or unwarranted or calls for criminal prosecution,” Mr. Jones said Monday.

“The inspector general’s method of investigation and method of reporting leaves much to the imagination,” Mr. Jones added. “They aren’t held to the same standard of proof that’s required in a criminal investigation or a criminal trial. They tend to adopt hearsay as truth.”

Dr. Novello, now an executive at Disney Childrens Hospital in Orlando, Fla., has also declined to be interviewed by the inspector general.

Mr. Fisch has asked the district attorney, P. David Soares, to determine whether there are grounds to bring felony charges, including defrauding the government and offering a false instrument for filing, against Dr. Novello. Mr. Fisch, in a statement, said Dr. Novello “shamelessly and blatantly exploited and abused her staff, adding a new dimension to the definition of ‘arrogance’ and ‘chutzpah.’ ”

Mr. Soares applauded the inspector general’s work and said, “We are moving forward with an investigation.”

The report also says Dr. Novello brushed off a written warning from one of her subordinates and subsequently took steps to hide what she was doing.

The report is the latest taint to surface in Albany, from former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s political demise in a prostitution scandal to the federal corruption indictment last week of Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader. The allegations against Dr. Novello, however, echo the controversy that engulfed former State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, who resigned in late 2006 after he admitted that he had used state workers to drive his ailing wife. At Mr. Soares’ insistence, Mr. Hevesi pleaded guilty to a felony.

The report alleges that Dr. Novello required state employees to work more than 2,500 hours of overtime performing personal services for her, costing the state $48,000. One employee told investigators that “Novello’s fondness for shopping was so well known that employees in the office would give her sales fliers or coupons to encourage her to leave the office so that they would not have to work late,” according to the report.

Asked whether she ordered state workers to ferry her on shopping trips and other errands, her lawyer, Mr. Jones, said: “That sounds highly unlikely and completely out of character. Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.”

The report also raises questions about the diligence of the Pataki administration in pursuing internal corruption. Complaints about Dr. Novello’s behavior were reported in 2001 and 2003 to the inspector general’s office, according to the report. In the summer of 2003, a former Health Department employee said the agency’s security desk was frequently empty because guards were being used to drive the commissioner around on personal business.

Inspector General Jill Konviser referred the matter back to the Health Department, which was run by Dr. Novello. Ms. Konviser, now a state judge, declined to comment. In New York, the inspector general is an appointee of the governor.

Dennis P. Whalen, then the executive deputy director of the Health Department, subsequently brought the matter up with his boss and eventually wrote her a memorandum in 2003 instructing her, “Never under any circumstances request or direct that an employee perform a personal (non-state) service for you or conduct business on your behalf.”

Mr. Whalen currently serves as the director of state operations under Gov. David A. Paterson. He told the inspector general’s investigators that after his warning, he kept receiving complaints that Dr. Novello was using security guards as her drivers on personal errands.

One security guard who was interviewed by investigators said that after the Whalen memo, he was called into a conference room. Dr. Novello told him that “she had been questioned on my hours and that we needed to calm down,” the guard said, according to the report.

The guard testified that Dr. Novello told him to spread his overtime hours on different days of the work week so nothing out of the ordinary would be noticed. She also told him to park the state car in inconspicuous places on shopping excursions and even ordered the guard to drive her in his own personal car.

The current investigation began in 2007 after she and Mr. Pataki had left office. David Catalfamo, a spokesman for the Mr. Pataki, declined to comment Monday, saying he had not seen the report.

As surgeon general, Dr. Novello, who followed the highly visible Dr. C. Everett Koop, was known for battling tobacco companies for marketing campaigns aimed at children and focusing on improving health outreach to minority communities. A native of Puerto Rico and a pediatrician, she was controversial among abortion rights advocates for her support of a policy prohibiting workers at family planning programs that received federal financing from discussing abortion with their patients.

The employees who spoke to investigators at the inspector general’s office said that Dr. Novello would call them at all hours on their cellphones and at home to come to her personal service, and that they feared ignoring the demands of the commissioner.

But occasionally they balked.

When Dr. Novello told one security guard to use his own car to drive her and her friends and family on a sightseeing trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., the guard refused and they used a state car, the report said. The same guard was instructed to drive her from Albany to Newark at 1 a.m. on Christmas Day, shortly before the end of the Pataki administration. He did so. But the final straw came when she ordered him to pick her up on her return trip, and by then it was January 2007. Dr. Novello was no longer the health commissioner.

The guard “testified that Novello had urged him to take vacation leave and use his personal vehicle to chauffeur her,” the report says, adding that the guard said “it felt good to finally say no to Novello.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Princess Caroline does not Pass the Sniff Test

Princess Caroline Kennedy is arrogantly positioning herself as New York state's next Senator just because her rum-running grandfather managed to turn the ill-gotten gains he made with the mafia from violating Prohibition liquor laws to

1) buy a Congressional, Senatorial, and then Presidential chair for Caroline's dead dad John F. Kennedy;

2) and then before JFK lost his head, her dead dad managed to appoint Caroline's dead uncle Robert F. Kennedy to be Attorney General; RFK then turned the national mourning over his brother's exploded head into annointing himself as New York's Senator; and,

3) Teddy Kenendy managed to turn family money and his brother's bogus Presidential office into a lifelong appointment at age 32 to be the Senator from Massachusetts.

Only bleeding heart liberals from New York and Massachusetts would put up with this insane family's shenanigans for this long.

Caroline we get it:
your dad JFK got shot in the head;
your mother's Jackie O's lungs rotted out from too many Virginia Slims;
your uncle got shot to death by a wacky Pakistani;
your brother JFK Jr. drove his plane into the ocean after he had a flashback from all the heroion he did on 116th Street in the 80s;
your other uncle Teddy killed his girlfriend and his brain is currently rotting away with brain cancer and hopefully that fat bastard Teddy will be dead soon.

We get it, Caroline: you are a Kennedy and you are cursed!
But we don't give a damn!

You are a complete idiot which you have proven continuously as your gums have flapped and nothing but "you know, um, you know, Obama, you know, Kennedy" has come out.
You are a dumb airhead.
You only got accepted to Harvard and Columbia as a legacy.
You have no merit on your own.
You are dumb, dumb, dumb.
Now go away, and stop bothering us.
Enough is enough with Caroline though.
No Princess Caroline! Um, you know, um, you are stupid Caroline!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Empire Lost New York blog!

New York State will lose another House of Representatives seat in 2012

Below average population growth (effectively 0% growth) will result in New York state losing yet another seat in the House of Representatives.

Therefore, New York state's power in the federal government will continue to wane as it has for the past 40 years.

To deal with the recesion and job loss, New York's Democratic Party plans to raise income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, and create 137new taxes, and raise tolls and public transit fares.

The only growth industry left in New York state is going to be renting one-way moving vans and mortuaries.

All the young people will move to low tax, low cost states where they can have a chance to live a normal, American middle class life (i.e., their own single family house, 2 cars, and a garage). That dream is impossibly expensive in New York state.

December 24, 2008, 11:11 am
Census Data Suggest More Power for South in CongressBy Bernie Becker
Official results for the next census will not be released for a few years. But it’s never too early to predict how population changes will affect the makeup of Congress through the next reapportionment.

A report released Monday predicts significant changes in the makeup of the House of Representatives in the next decade that could see a continuation of the trend of the South gaining even more seats. The report also cautioned that current economic factors could affect some of the population trends driving the most recent predictions.

After each decennial census, the 435 seats in the House are reallocated among the states to account for shifts in population. The changes made following the upcoming census will be put in place for the 2012 elections.

The study released by Election Data Services, which used recent Census Bureau projections, predicts the continuation of shifts that occurred in recent reapportionments — when states in the Sun Belt and West gained seats while those in the Northeast and Rust Belt lost them.

The report projected that, if House seats were redistributed based on 2008 population estimates, Texas would gain three seats, while Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Utah would all gain one additional seat. Except for Utah, all of those states gained at least one seat following the 2000 Census.

Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania would likely lose one seat apiece. The last four -- including New York state -- all lost seats following the most recent census.

But the president of Election Data Services also said that, because of the recession and bust in the housing market, population shifts in the next two years might look different than those that occurred earlier in the decade.

“What you’re seeing is a slowing down of mobility. People are not moving as much,” said Kimball W. Brace, citing a Pew Research Center study released last week that reported 13 percent of Americans switched residences between 2006 and 2007, the lowest number in the six decades the government has tracked the trend.

“So some short-term trends in population may be a better barometer of what we’ll be looking at in 2010,” Mr. Brace added.

To account for those trends, Election Data Services constructed five separate models that project 2010 population figures. The broadest projection takes into account population changes since 2000, while one model only includes changes that occurred in the last year.

All five models projected that Texas and Arizona would gain a seat in addition to those predicted from the 2008 population projections, giving Texas an extra four seats and 36 overall, while Arizona would get two more seats, giving it 10 overall. The models also suggested that Ohio will likely lose a second seat, taking it down to 16 House seats, and that Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri will all lose a seat apiece once the census is complete.

With the final reapportionment count still years away, it’s tough to say which party will gain more from changes in the 2010 Census. But, if the study’s numbers hold true, Republicans might have reason for optimism.

Of the seven states predicted to gain a House seat in at least one of Election Data Services’ projections, Senator John McCain won four in November’s presidential election (Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Utah). Republicans will also be the majority in four of those state’s House delegations (Florida, Georgia, Texas and Utah) in the 111th Congress. (It should be remembered that state legislatures usually have the final authority to draw Congressional districts.)

Meanwhile, of the 12 states the report found most likely to drop a House seat, President-elect Barack Obama won 10, losing only Louisiana and Missouri. The 10 states Mr. Obama captured will all have Democratic majorities in their delegations to the next Congress as well.

But Democrats can also point to recent successes in the states likely to get new House seats. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Democrats gained a net of eight seats in the seven states predicted to gain extra seats, collecting a net of three apiece in both Arizona and Florida.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Yorkers Move to Atlanta for Better Quality of Life

The New York Post (December 22, 2008)
It's a taxing tale of two cities.

Public-relations executive Scott Merritt and teacher Debbie Merritt struggled for 11 years in New York, barely scratching out a living and forced to live in his parents' four-bedroom home in Greenlawn, LI.

But when the family moved to Atlanta, Merritt and his wife found they were living far better on about the same income.

"We went from struggling to having a great quality of life in just a few weeks," Scott Merritt said.

In New York, Merritt said he was facing an impossible $500,000 price tag for a home.

He bought a four-bedroom place with a swimming pool in Loganville, an Atlanta suburb, for only $275,000.

Annual property taxes in Georgia set him back $2,600. In New York, he said, they would be four times that.

"We just couldn't do it anymore," said Merritt, 35, who made an above-average salary as a public-relations exec.

"Eventually we had to say enough was enough. It was just no way to live, and I could see no way out."

In May last year, Scott and Debbie, who couldn't find work on Long Island, and their twins, Amanda and Sam, both 10, packed their belongings and left the city.

"It was tough to leave," Scott said last week. "We miss it every day. This is not New York, but down here I can have the life I want for my family. Moving here wasn't a choice, it was a necessity."

Between 2000 and 2005, 40,000 New Yorkers moved to Atlanta, according to the city's Regional Commission.

"We're meeting more and more New Yorkers down here," said Merritt.

"We just could not afford to stay in the place we grew up in, and I guess now there really is no going back. "

MTA Piles on with More Taxes and Fees

The MTA is a defacto 4th level of government that taxes hard working New Yorkers every bit as much as the federal, state, and local governments do. The MTA levies income taxes, sales taxes, real estate transfer taxes, and it charges for all of its services with fares and tolls. Oy gevalt!

December 23, 2008
M.T.A. Details Proposed Increases, and Invites Public Comment

Proposals being considered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) could raise the base subway and bus fare as high as $3, the 30-day MetroCard to $105 and bridge and tunnel tolls to $7 next year.

The MTA is thinking of charging the new top fare of up to $3 only to people who buy one ride at a time on subways or buses; those who put multiple rides on their MetroCards would pay up to $2.50.

The proposed maximum fares and tolls were released on Monday in a notice providing the schedule for eight public hearings, beginning Jan. 14 in Manhattan, for discussion on the authority’s planned increases as well as an array of service cuts intended to close a projected $1.2 billion shortfall next year.

The plan calls for increasing overall fare and toll revenues by 23 percent. The notice gave the maximum level to which different fares and tolls could rise to reach that goal, including $105 for a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard, up from $81. A weekly MetroCard could rise to as much as $32, up from $25.

The hearing notice said the base subway and bus fare could rise as high as $3, from $2. It also said the authority might set a separate fare of up to $2.50 for pay-per-ride MetroCards.

Some fares on Metro-North Railroad and the LIRR could rise by as much as a third, the notice said.

One-way tolls on major bridges and tunnels — including the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) — could rise as high as $7, although the notice did not explain how rates would differ for drivers using E-ZPass. Drivers who use cash currently pay $5, and those with E-ZPass pay $4.15.

In the coming days, when the MTA gets around to making a more detailed proposal public, in at least some cases the increases are likely to be smaller than those in the notice. The authority expects to make the detailed proposal public next week.

Jeremy Soffin, an authority spokesman, said the authority released the hearing notice now to give the public time to prepare.

Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit rider advocacy group, said the maximum changes could result in uneven increases for different kinds of fares or services.

Charging $105 for a 30-day MetroCard would be an increase of 30 percent. In contrast, New York City Transit express bus fares would rise to a maximum of $6.25, from $5, a 25 percent increase. The authority had previously contemplated a larger express bus increase but kept it lower at the request of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Mr. Russianoff also criticized a provision that would allow the minimum purchase needed to receive a bonus on the pay-per-ride MetroCard to rise as high as $12.50, which he said could put it out of reach of many riders.

The notice said that the pay-per-ride bonus could be set as high as 35 percent or could be eliminated altogether. Currently, riders who put at least $7 on a pay per ride MetroCard receive a 15% bonus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caroline Kennedy. . .Bread and Circuses

The notion of Caroline Kennedy being appointed as the next Senator from New York state neatly summarizes why New York state is a declining empire which is likely nearing collapse: an arrogant, elite that monopolizes all political thought; geritocracy; and one-party rule by fiat.

Let's take these in reverse order:
1) New York state and especially New York City is one-party rule by fiat. The Republican Party is completely dead in this state, and the Democrats have absolutely control of the entire government from top to bottom, and from Upstate to the tip of Long Island.
Who gets to pick the next Senator? The Governor does: Governor Patterson.
Who picked Governor Patterson? Eliot Spitzer did.
Who picked Eliot Spitzer? Well, nominally, there was an election in November 2006 where he was elected, but, effectively, the Governor was really determined in the Democratic primary in May 2006. And Spitzer and the Democratic bosses scared off anyone else from running; they paid off Andrew Cuomo by promising him Spitzer's old chair as Attorney General.

Recall that both Spitzer and Cuomo are made men, they are daddy's boys. Bernard Spitzer's real estate wealth financed Eliot Spitzer and Mario Cuomo's name recognition and stint as Governor allowed Andrew to ascend in politics.

New York State has 18 million people, and yet, we keep having to go back to a handful of handpicked Democrat bosses to find our leaders.

2) Geritocracy: I have heard a lot of aging hippies reminisce about the Kennedy Camelot so much this week 1961-1963. Blech! That was 50 years ago; that is ancient history. Camelot was manufactured tripe to begin with, and after 50 years of Kennedy Camelot retreads it is wearing thin. For gods sake, people are reminiscing about Teddy Kennedy just because he is closing to dropping stone dead of brain cancer. Get over it! He killed Mary Jo Kappacheck people! He left her to die and did nothing about if for a few days. That fat bastard should be strapped into the chair; who has time for the brain cancer to work?

3) The Elite: The New York Times -- Sulzberger & Co -- have been fomenting for Caroline Kennedy all week; it is disgusting and unseemly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taxing New Yorkers to Death: Time to Leave New York!

Gov. David Paterson unveils dire New York State budget that includes new taxes, layoffs and cuts


Updated Tuesday, December 16th 2008, 10:21 PM

MTA panel OKs doomsday rate hikes
Governor set to aim budget ax at city schools
Budget cuts could halt push to reduce class size
Gov. Paterson's proposed $121 billion budget hits New Yorkers in their iPods - and nickels-and-dimes them in lots of other places, too.

Trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, Paterson called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including an "iPod tax" that taxes the sale of downloaded music and other "digitally delivered entertainment services."

"We're going to have to take some extreme measures," Paterson said Tuesday after unveiling the slash-and-burn budget.

The proposal, which needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.

Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson's proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.

"The governor is nickel-and-diming working class families," said Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, an advocacy group.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long warned that reinstating the sales tax on clothing and shoes will drive people to New Jersey, where they will also gas up their cars and pick up their wine, spirits and soda because the prices are less due to lower taxes. "You're sending notice to the people of New York that we really don't want you here," Long said. "The governor proposed flat spending, but why not actually cut the budget before raising taxes and fees?"

Paterson's 2009-10 budget proposal represents only a 1% increase in total spending from this year's budget - the smallest increase in a dozen years. It also calls for:

A 3.3%, or $698 million, reduction in school aid.
$3.5 billion in health care savings, including reductions in payments to hospitals and nursing homes.
Video slot machines at Belmont Park, more multistate lottery games and expanded hours for the state's Quick Draw lottery game.
Layoffs for 521 state workers and the elimination of seven state agencies.
"This is where we are," Paterson told reporters. "Maybe we should have thought about this when we were depending on what we thought was inexhaustive collections of taxes from Wall Street - and now those taxes have fallen off a cliff."

Paterson aides say the budget represents a net gain for New York City, but Mayor Bloomberg wasn't buying it. He said it could cost the city more than $1 billion, including a $600 million reduction in school aid.

"I don't know that 100% of it is going to go the classroom, but a large percentage of any reduction we get from the state will go to the classroom," Bloomberg said. "That will mean larger class sizes and fewer services."

Education and health care advocates also blasted Paterson's budget and urged state lawmakers to increase income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to offset the cuts.

"We will be fighting this tooth and nail. We think it is irresponsible to make this level of cuts and not ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to help ease the pain," said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who supports a so-called millionaire tax, has said he'd "rather have a broad-based tax than nickel-and-dime" people.

Still, Silver (D-Manhattan) Tuesday indicated major cuts are in store. "Everything the governor has proposed is on the table," he said.

Republican lawmakers expressed concern with the tax and fee increases.

"Instead of raising taxes, we need to be reducing them," said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady).

Paterson did not rule out income tax increases but said spending reductions are the priority. He also defended the fee and sales tax increases, saying they would be less harmful to the state's economy.

"If you start taxing at times when [revenues are] receding, you'll drive job creators out of the state," Paterson said.

New York State to Raise 137 New or Increased Taxes!

New York state and New York City have the highest taxes in the United States.
The population is declining as people move out-of-state to get away from the backbreaking taxes. The only people who move to New York State are foreigners -- mostly illegal immigrants -- who either do not know about the taxes or do not pay them. Now, Governor Patterson wants to raise taxes even more on the legal, taxpaying citizens of New York. Vote with your feet and move. I hear North Carolina is nice, for example.

December 16, 2008
Paterson Unveils Plan for Closing Budget Deficit
ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson’s administration unveiled an austerity budget on December 16, 2008 that laid out a painful plan to close the largest deficit in the state’s history, including 137 new or increased taxes and fees and what is sure to be a controversial reckoning with the state’s workforce.

Education aid would be particularly hard hit, with an actual cut of $700 million in state education aid next year, not just a reduction of projected spending growth. Increased aid for operating expenses and pre-kindergarten that had been expected as part of the settlement of a long-running lawsuit of school aid would be delayed by four years under the plan.

Medicaid spending would not be as hard hit; it would still rise by about 1 percent under the plan, although the projected increase for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers would be cut by more than $1 billion.

The governor’s spending plan also calls for eliminating or merging seven smaller state agencies, cancel property tax rebate checks, curtail general municipal aid to New York City and close 13 prison camps or detention centers.

“Adjusting our state budget to reflect this new fiscal environment will be an extraordinary challenge,” Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, said in a statement, adding that his budget “begins the difficult process of fundamentally re-evaluating both how we manage government and what the state can afford to spend in a time of plummeting revenue.”

The total state budget, including federal matching funds, would be $121.1 billion under the plan. Spending of state funds would increase by only half a percent under the plan, a turnabout from years of spending rates well above inflation.

Mr. Paterson’s plan would close a $15.4 billion deficit for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends on March 31 of next year, and the following fiscal year. He is introducing his budget more than a month early as the state grapples with a twin calamity — the collapse of its main financial engine, Wall Street, and a deepening recession.

Mr. Paterson’s budget is sure to touch off a contentious fight with the State Legislature, which must approve his budget, and with labor unions across the state that have strong ties to legislators. Negotiations will be hampered by the fact that no clear leader has emerged to guide the Senate next year after last month’s elections left Democrats with a narrow, one seat majority in the chamber.

“It’s an illustration of just how difficult the situation is with the economy and the budget deficit,” said James Tedisco, the leader of the Assembly Republican caucus.

“The good is that he is holding the line on spending,” Mr. Tedisco added. “The bad is that there are $4 billion in new taxes and fees and that will hit the middle class right in the solar plexus.”

While there were no broad-based income tax increases, there were all manner of new taxes, fees, fines or other assessments, expected to raise $4 billion next year.

The new taxes are likely to touch almost every New Yorker in some way and potentially every day, if you like Coke or Pepsi.

The most notable new tax was an 18 percent levy on sugary, non-diet soft drinks. But there were many others. A tax on car rentals would rise to 6 percent from 5 percent. Taxes on beer and wine would more than double. Licensing fees would increase for private investigators, barbers, bail enforcement agents, home inspectors, notary publics and cosmetologists.

Taxes on gasoline, cable TV, satellite television and radio service, cigars, flavored malt beverages would also increase. And the cost of owning and operating a car would also increase significantly, with 16 fee increases for the Division of Motor Vehicles.

While there was no increase in income taxes on the wealthy, as has been pushed by Assembly Democrats, the state expects to raise $120 million next year by limiting the amount of money that millionaires can deduct from their state taxes.

Mr. Paterson also proposed that the state should begin to take the kind of steps that Detroit automakers and other corporations began to take with their unionized workers years ago.

His proposals include 521 layoffs — a modest figure in a workforce of almost 200,000. But he would also eliminate a scheduled 3 percent salary increase for state workers, increase retiree contributions for health care coverage and have state workers defer a week’s pay until they retire. He would also like to create a pension classification for new employees that does not have many of the attractive features that current state workers enjoy. Among other things, it would restore the minimum retirement age to 62 instead of 55.

Unions were bracing for a battle.

On Tuesday morning, before the governor had even spoken, the Web site of the Civil Service Employees Association called Mr. Paterson’s budget “possibly the worst in recent history” that “will hit working New Yorkers hardest.”

In a joint statement, George Gresham, the president of 1199 S.E.I.U. United Healthcare Workers East, and Ken Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said “these are staggering cuts that would shatter New York’s health care infrastructure, severely threaten the ability of patients to get access to care, and cause serious harm to communities across the entire state.”

Mr. Paterson, for his part, said his plan “seeks shared sacrifice” and “includes reductions across virtually every area of government.”