“Not Austere” is how the New York Times is describing the state’s $131.8 billion budget for 2009-2010. As a colleague pointed out to me, “how bad does a budget have to be for the New York Times to call it ‘not austere’?” Apparently, pretty bad.
In addition to an estimated $7 billion in tax and fee increases, total state spending would increase almost 9% when federal “stimulus” money is included. Supporters dismiss the inclusion of bailout money in the totals, but for those who think the “temporary” federal bailout money won’t foster otherwise higher state spending going forward, I’ve got a lot for sale in Poughkeepsie.
The Albany Times-Union reported that Gov. Paterson cited public employee labor contracts as a reason for the budget increase. Once again, the needs of the productive class (i.e., taxpayers) take a back seat to the bureaucratic class living at their expense. Of course, New York’s policymakers were also able to find money for critical expenditures on “gun clubs, churches, a yoga foundation and the Wantagh American Legion Pipe Band, among thousands of other projects.”
The biggest tax increase is a surcharge on personal income taxes paid by “the wealthy” that is supposed to net state coffers $4 billion. (Note to New York personal income tax payers: New Hampshire doesn’t have one.) But other tax increases will hit all walks of New York life including an increased assessment on utilities, a motor vehicle registration fee increase of 25 percent, an increase in driver’s license fees of 25 percent, increased taxes on beer and wine, a tax increase on auto rentals of 1 percent, and possibly the most insulting – a new $100 fee on tax preparers (guess who’s going to ultimately pay that one?).