January 22, 2004

Reactions to Pataki's budget

I ran out of time yesterday to cover most of the local reactions to Governor Pataki's budget. (I had to drive to Albany and back.) The state budget at this point seems to be the largest determining factor for local taxes - mostly county, though the county's troubles may affect the towns as well.

The Ithaca Journal had a piece yesterday covering the largely partisan response to the budget, citing Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D) and State Senator James Seward (R), both of whom represent Dryden, among those siding against or with the Republican governor on issues like how much the changes to Medicaid will actually help counties. All of this is tricky, as the budget is immense, and really only a starting point for New York's legendary and often long-lasting budget negotiations.

Tompkins County Legislature Chairman Tim Joseph "is awaiting an analysis of Pataki's budget from the New York State Association of Counties, which is due early next month," though he clearly has doubts about some proposed program cuts. Joseph has been vocal about Medicaid in particular, joining with other county leaders to object to state mandated spending.

I already mentioned that the Dryden district saw the budget as "nothing too exciting," though it seems to have been more or less exciting for various surrounding districts. Local colleges faces pluses and minuses. In Dryden, "another proposed cut, which would mean a net loss of $350,000 for TC3, is a $115-per-student operating aid reduction for community colleges run by the State University of New York system."

The Journal also has its own take on the budget, noting "Pataki's proposal to have the state take over local government Medicaid costs. The catch: It would be phased in over a 10-year period, which means that any significant relief is a long way off."

The most worrying part to me is that the New York Times reports that "the proposed budget... relies on some questionable revenue sources to improve failing schools and close a $5.1 billion budget gap, starting with the money expected to come from video lottery terminals." There's no sign that those lottery terminals will land in Dryden, but it's not clear where they'll go:

No one knows what the new parlors will look like or where they will be located, though under the governor's plan, state lottery officials would ask casino operators to submit proposals. The governor has only proposed legislation saying the new parlors cannot be within 15 miles of upstate tracks or in the suburbs of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. Five could be put in the city, but not in the Bronx or Queens, or above 59th Street in Manhattan.

I suspect that, as usual, it'll be a long time before we have any idea what the budget will really look like, and it doesn't look like there's much hope for quick relief on mandates to counties.

Posted by simon at January 22, 2004 1:21 PM in , , ,
Note on photos