Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Can the state be saved?: Spitzer slams Bruno's plan for spending

The Times-Herald Record Online Brendan Scott

Here is a very good summary of what has happened to date with the NYS Budget crisis........and why Bruno and the state Republicans are a dying breed..they just don't get it....business as usual is dead...the voters want change..reform...and a better New York...pandering to special interests is no longer going to cut it......they will soon find out..the hard way.........andy

Profligate\'pro-fli-gAt\adj 1: completely given up to dissipation and licentiousness 2: wildly extravagant (Merriam-Webster)
Albany — The line has finally been drawn in the fight over how the state will spend $121 billion of your tax dollars this year. It's at bottom a wide gulf between Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
The Republican-controlled Senate surprised few when it put forth a budget proposal yesterday that Spitzer dismissed as "profligate" and "pandering" even before the document was fully written.
More striking was Bruno's late-afternoon announcement that his budget proposal would add up to $120.6 billion — exactly the same size as the budget already proposed by Spitzer.
That's despite adding more than $1 billion in spending that would give suburban school districts, the business community and the health-care industry just about everything they wanted.
The Senate budget, which could pass as early as today, would toss out the Democratic governor's overhaul of the education funding formula that ensured 13 percent of all state aid went to Long Island. It would strike Spitzer's plan to cut $423 million from Medicaid by, among other things, freezing cost-of-living hikes for hospitals and nursing homes. It would reject Spitzer's plan to raise $449 million by closing corporate tax "loopholes."
The Senate would make up for all that red ink by spending every bit of $575 million in unexpected state revenues and striking various items from all corners of the budget.
"This is pretty much the polar opposite of the governor's proposal," said Elizabeth Lynam of the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission. "They've just gone through and rejected all the governor's proposals and planted a flag way out in the middle of a field."
It'll be days before the proposal's impact is fully understood. But it was clear that Spitzer and Bruno were miles apart with less than three weeks before the April 1 deadline to adopt a state budget.
That stands in stark contrast with the Democrat-controlled Assembly, which also passed its own budget yesterday. The Assembly's $121.2 billion plan would increase funding to hospitals and nursing homes but leave Spitzer's budget proposals largely untouched.
Spitzer said the Senate's budget would increase the rate of state spending by 50 percent and wipe out the state's $3 billion reserve fund. That's on top of spending that the state comptroller just last week called unsustainable.
"Their spending is both profligate and their behavior is pandering," Spitzer said. "This reflects, unfortunately, a failure to confront hard decisions."
But Bruno took the battle to the Senate floor yesterday, where he read out Democratic senators' names and listed the amount of money their local hospitals and nursing homes would lose if Spitzer's budget passed unchanged.
"When we look at this proposal by the governor, it is well-intentioned, but it is wrong," Bruno said. "It is not representing the best interests of putting patients first."

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