By Bendix Anderson
September 30, 2010
John Sampson’s remarks to the Association for a Better New York September 22 held some clues to how he, as Majority Conference Leader for the New York State Senate, plans to resolve the state’s budget problems.
“We have to reach out to the unions and let them know: ‘You have to share in this also,'” said Sampson in response to a question from the audience on the projected budget gap for next year.
Sampson’s address to ABNY focused on fiscal responsibility and targeted tax cuts to stimulate the economy. That may mean deeper cuts to state programs to close the budget gap.
The majority leader also touted accomplishments like the Excelsior Jobs Program, the Green Jobs program that created more than 14,000 jobs, and the Power for Jobs discounted energy and energy rebates program, that supports a third of a million workers in places “where manufacturing sectors have collapsed,” Sampson said.
Legislators finished the New York State $137 billion 2010-11 budget in August, several months after the April 1 start of the fiscal year. Economists and experts are already worrying about next year’s budget, which will probably have no extra help from the federal Stimulus funds.
The budget shortfall predicted for 2011-12 is currently at $8.2 billion. That number is expected to rise to $13.5 billion in 2012-13 and almost $15.6 billion in 2013-14, according to the watchdog website SunshineReview.org.
Sampson stressed cost cutting as the main way to fill the hole in the budget. He ruled out most kinds of tax increase and rejects what he calls “new borrowing and budget gimmicks.” He said he is “fully committed to a local property tax cap.” He also blocked the passage of a hedge fund tax this year “that would have sent jobs out of the state.”
More cuts would be hard news for union member who have already suffered through several rounds of state budget cuts and layoffs.
“We’ve already done our piece,” said Paul Egan, director of legislation and political action for the New York City-based United Federation of Teachers, though he said he is willing to work with legislators to help solve the state’s budget shortfall. “Everybody has to be part of the solution.”