How low can we go?
Desperate times certainly require desperate measures, but just how low will America sink in an attempt to address its massive fiscal deficits and budgetary pressures? Well, it would appear that New York State is ready to sink pretty low. New York Governor David Paterson released his proposed budget yesterday. WCBS TV in New York provides a comprehensive summary in reporting, Paterson: Budget Has $1 Billion in New Taxes. Let’s navigate.
Governor David Paterson said Tuesday that the days of profligate spending in Albany are over and that starting immediately lawmakers must participate in an “age of accountability.”
That said, the governor’s new budget has $1 billion in new taxes and nearly $800 million in cuts for New York City.
The words certainly sounded good.
“Our revenues have crumbled and our budget has crashed and we can no longer afford this spending addiction that we have had for so long,” Paterson said.
And with those words Paterson announced a new $134 billion budget that will please no one except the numbers-crunchers.
School aid will be slashed by $1 billion. Health care will be slashed by another billion. Aid to NYC is about to get harpooned.
“The mistakes of the past have lead us to the breaking point,” Paterson said.
But in addition to the severe belt tightening, the governor said he would need to raise $1 billion in new taxes and fees — some politically controversial.
* A $1 increase in the cigarette tax, raising the state tax to $3.75.
* A new soda tax that will cost consumers 1-cent per ounce — a 16-ounce bottle will cost 16 cents more, a 64-ounce bottle 64 cents more.
* The governor also plans to legalize and sanction cage fighting. (LD’s highlight)
* And allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.
* And introduce 50 speed cameras on highways to catch unsuspecting motorists with fines of up to $100.
New Yorkers have mixed feelings about the cigarette and soda taxes. ”Yikes,” was all Patricia Richardson of Mount Vernon could muster. ”Sodas I can’t agree with. I think that’s disgusting. I think we should tax cigarettes but not soda.”
Still, the governor could have difficulty getting the Legislature to go along and not give in to special interests like hospitals and school advocates.
“The state is facing this huge budget gap. They’ve got to do something except the Legislature is dysfunctional. They don’t care. There’s really no conception of the public interest here. It’s narrow personal interests and it’s narrow institutional interests,” said Baruch College pundit Doug Muzzio.
Still up in the air is whether the Legislature will save the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s free student fares.
The governor put some money into the budget for it but the MTA said it needs nearly $200 million more.
Filling budget gaps is painful in practice but fairly simple in procedure. Increase taxes, cut spending, and search for new means to raise revenues. I am not surprised by Paterson’s budget proposal, but I am dismayed by one item. Is legalized cage fighting reflective of a civilized society? I know certain states already approve it and that this so-called sport has worked to improve its image. Excuse me, but I view it as barbaric.
The point of my commentary: where does America draw the line? When does prostitution get legalized nationwide? When will all drug use be approved? Should we run down to our local heroin store perhaps? How about dog fighting? Michael Vick may be pissed but if we need the revenues, come on now.
What do you think of legalizing cage fighting?