Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Leadership on the Budget

We now may be seeing just why Governor Paterson has been so clever in his nudging around who should become the leader of the state senate. A Liz reported yesterday, he may be using the uncertainty as a lever: "Gov. David Paterson suggested earlier today that the response by the warring factions in the state Senate leadership battle to the fiscal crisis should perhaps play a role in determining who would ultimately be the best person to control the chamber. "The principals of both parties talk about crisis intervention," the governor said. "…They can feud over who is going to be a leader, but really the 62 members I need to vote on this budget. So individually we will talk to them and perhaps their response to a crisis will be a better indication of who should be the leader.“

Or, in other words, I just might throw my support to....well, the guy who promises to be my best budget dance partner. So it's no wonder that Paterson was in no hurry to resolve the leadership issue; and the greater the chaos, the greater the governor's leverage.

But to us, it seems that Paterson's biggest concern is if the senate tilt too far to the left-and the weaker the leadership, the greater the chance that this won't happen; especially with the WFP breathing down Malcolm Smith's neck. As Liz tells us: "It should come as no surprise that the labor-backed Working Families Party, champion of the biggest potential revenue generator NOT in Gov. David Paterson's budget proposal - the so-called millionaire's tax - is not a fan of the $4.1 billion tax-and-fees package...The WFP is hoping, of course, that its big investments in the Senate Democrats and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver during this past election season pays off now."

Paterson appears to be strongly opposed to an across the board personal income tax hike. As the Politicker points out: "When David Paterson was asked about why he chose to focus on 88 new and increased sales taxes and fees as opposed to a broader income tax increase, he said it was because he was afraid more people would leave New York. "If you're going to tax, you've got to tax at a time when your economy is coming back," Paterson said, indisputably. "The broad-based income tax at this time would only exacerbate the problem."

Of course, we also have opposed some of the governor's new taxes-but not in the same class warfare kind of way: "Paterson's proposals have attracted some criticism from fiscal liberals. "Some of these fees are, in fact, regressive," said Ron Deutsch, head of the labor-backed group New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. "The reality is he's nickel-and-dimming the average New Yorker and not asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share."

But not everyone sees Paterson as a fiscal hawk. Here's EJ McMahon's take on the governor's budget, and he sees way to much continued government growth: "An anonymous Paterson Administration official is quoted in today’s Albany Times Union as predicting that the governor’s budget proposal would include an “aggressive set of cuts” that will leave “blood in the streets.” Maybe he meant ketchup – for despite what the governor calls a “staggering deficit,” Paterson’s 2009-10 Executive Budget would not reduce overall spending. In fact, if enacted as proposed, the budget would grow slightly."

So Paterson is doing more talking, perhaps, than actual walking on fiscal responsibility. The reality to us is that higher taxes, wherever they rear their ugly head, is destructive to economic growth-and harmful to all classes of people. And we're eager to see just how creative the governor and the legislature can be in implementing the governmental reform ideas put forward by the AG, the Comptroller, and the Nassau County Executive.