Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How New York Would Look If Carl Paladino Made His Budget Cuts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How New York Would Look If Carl Paladino Made His Budget Cuts

Article excerpt

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino says he expects to remove $14 billion from the state budget over the next two years if elected. Observers say such ambitious plans are hard to deliver.

Forget about Carl Paladino's tough-guy threats to use a baseball bat on the legislature. It's his axe that has some people in Albany worried.

If Mr. Paladino, the Republican candidate for Governor, gets elected, he talks about hacking away at entire agencies, reducing the salaries of every non-union worker by 10 percent, and significantly paring the amount paid to doctors and hospitals. The main word in his vocabulary is "cut."

"I've said I'll cut taxes by 10 percent, cut government by 20 percent, provide our business relief from the onerous taxes and regulations strangling them today - and I'll cut Medicaid by $20 billion," he said on Tuesday at a breakfast speech at Crain's New York Business.

Paladino is far from alone. In California for example, Meg Whitman is talking about leaner services as well. Other states facing projected budget deficits, such as Arizona, Florida, and Maryland will be watching New York, says Lee Miringoff, political director of the Marist Poll in Poughkeepsie, New York.

"New York often sets the tone for other states," he says. "But, the problems here are not unique; other states are under budget duress."

Paladino's proposals are probably the most severe of any candidate.

"They would decimate the services as we know them," says Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director of the Citizens Budget Commission, a non-partisan civic organization.

By the time Paladino finishes with his axe, he expects to remove $14 billion from the state budget over the next two years. He says that would represent 20 percent of the state's 2011-2012 spending for the $66 billion general fund, which covers such items as Medicaid, the state university system, and local school aid to municipalities. Cuts of this size have never been done to a New York budget, say Albany budget watchers.

At the same time Paladino is cutting Albany down to size, he says he will shop the state's revenues by lowering income taxes by 10 percent and eliminating corporate franchise and capital gains taxes.

But, can it actually be done?

"The devil is in the details," replies Blair Horner, the Albany- based legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). "It's easy to promise, it's hard to do."

Making it even more difficult for the next governor of the Empire State is that whoever is living in the governor's mansion in 2011 will begin the term with a projected budget deficit of $8. …

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