NY state budget a month overdue

New York state remains deadlocked, as negotiations over the state budget have still not been resolved despite a due date of nearly a month ago.

Gov. David Paterson, who demanded the budget be put to a vote in the New York Legislature, was refused a vote on April 28; the legislature will not reconvene again until May 3.

New York is currently suffering a $9.2 billion budget deficit, an amount that grows daily. The state is required by its constitution to balance its budget but could run out of money by June if the budget is not settled by then.

Paterson's budget includes cutting tax credits for companies in half, a move projected to save the state $100 million over the next fiscal year. The state is also cancelling a $23 million-a-year tax credit for companies with more than $300,000 in taxable sales per quarter. Paterson is also cutting his $25 million plan to help companies commercialize their new technology.

For the past month, the state legislature has been passing emergency spending bills to cover ongoing state expenses until the budget crisis is resolved.

The governor requested permission to give state workers a four-day workweek. Such a move is unprecedented in New York and would save the state $30 million. Public safety and health workers would be the exception to this option, known as a furlough day.

Paterson said that he would include the furloughs in additional emergency spending bills if the crisis is not resolved. If the emergency bills with the furlough do not pass, the government is at risk of shutting down without any money to sustain itself. The move has angered state labor unions that claim the move is unconstitutional, although other states have furloughed their workers in budget crises.

Currently, no clear agreement exists in Albany over the state's budget. The governor, who has yet to garner the full support of the Democratic party, continues to reconcile differences in legislation with the state senate and state assembly.

Assembly Majority Leader Democrat Ron Canestrari seems to see no agreement on the budget in sight. "It seems like weeks, if not months, away," he said in an April 28 issue of The Business Review.

Much of the delay comes from debate over two issues: borrowing and property taxes.

Paterson does not want to support any measures that would mean borrowing money for the state, but legislators in both houses support the idea of floating bonds to help cover the state's expenses.

Many legislators also want to push through property tax relief, but Paterson is not supportive of offering a tax break in times of a budget crisis. "I don't really understand the line they're drawing, but it certainly is not on behalf of the people," Paterson told The Business Review. "For property tax relief to come using borrowed money is a sham," he said.

The governor has the power to force the legislature to convene, but cannot force it to hold votes. The legislature is currently scheduled to hold session two or three times each week.