2009-04-08 / Features

Gianaris Votes Against State Budget

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Photo Rose Albergo Assemblymember Michael Gianaris explains to UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo and UCCA membership why he voted against the 2009- 10 state budget. Photo Rose Albergo Assemblymember Michael Gianaris explains to UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo and UCCA membership why he voted against the 2009- 10 state budget. When the $131.8 billion New York state budget passed the Assembly on March 31 by a vote of 94 to 53, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris was not among the "yeas".

"I voted against the state budget this week," Gianaris said at the April meeting of the United Community Civic Association (UCCA). "There was about $10 billion more [in the budget] than last year, some of it due to federal stimulus money. The problem is, that's not going to be there in a few years."

The budget, which passed the state senate on April 3 for the new fiscal year that began April 1, will increase spending by $10.5 billion, or 8.7 percent, including about $6.2 billion in federal stimulus money. The state was facing a $17 billion deficit.

Gianaris also said he opposed new taxes in the budget. "It's not a good idea," he said, referring to the effect on working New Yorkers.

The budget includes about $1.3 billion in new or increased taxes and fees, ranging from nickel deposits on bottled water, increased taxes on beer and wine, hikes in car registration, driver licenses and license plate fees, utility taxes and about $4 billion in new income taxes.

In a March 31 press release, the state Assembly said increases in personal income taxes of 7.85 percent (from 6.85 percent) for single filers earning $200,000 per year or more and married and joint filers earning $300,000 per year or more and 8.97 percent for all earning $500,000 per year or more are classified as temporary raises for three years.

At the UCCA meeting, Gianaris introduced state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, praising him as the "person watching over us".

"It really took political courage," said DiNapoli referring to the fact that Gianaris was the only New York City Democrat voting against the budget in the Assembly. DiNapoli, too, criticized the budget, saying there wasn't enough of a priority put on cutting spending. "It is a missed opportunity," he said.

In an April 2 statement, DiNapoli said the 2009- 10 budget was not a "long-term solution to New York's propensity to spend more than the state can afford", and charged that it was over reliant on "non-recurring federal stimulus funds and new tax revenues projected to materialize at a time of declining tax receipts".

Governor David Paterson said the budget includes about $6.5 billion in cuts, according to a report in the March 31 New York Times.

"When [Governor David Paterson] says they cut spending by $6.5 billion, he means they didn't increase spending by $6.5 billion," E.J. McMahon, director of the Manhattan Institute's Empire Center for New York State Policy, said in a March 30 New York Daily News report.

The 2009- 10 budget allocates $14.9 billion in basic aid to schools, keeping it on a par with the 2008- 09 budget, although healthcare funding was reduced by $2.3 billion.

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