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Paterson Says Some New Taxes May be Necessary to Balance Budget
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, NY – Paterson says new taxes will not be a significant part of his budget plan, he instead will concentrate on deep spending cuts. But he says he understands that when the legislature sees his proposed slashes to programs, some new revenue raisers may be necessary.
"The only taxes that would be on the table would be dedicated taxes," said Paterson, who said any additional cigarette tax revenues would be devoted to health care spending.
The governor is also considering the re-legalization of ultimate fighting, in which opponents stage matches in steel cages, with few ground rules. It was banned in New York in the 1990's by then Governor George Pataki and the legislature, for being too violent.
Paterson also released a statement, saying that he intends to adhere to a self imposed cap on state spending in his new budget plan, and could even generate enough savings to offset many property taxpayers' bills, through a circuit breaker tax credit.
The governor does not say exactly what cuts he has in mind, though he has said to expect school aid reductions.
The budget is not the only issue that Paterson has to focus on- campaign fundraising filings are due out January 15th, and the governor will likely raise far less money than potential rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Paterson would not name a dollar amount, but says he'll have raised enough money to mount a credible campaign for governor this year.
"My numbers will not look at as good as they would have if I had dedicated more time to this process," said Paterson. "But I'll have the resources to run an effective campaign for governor."
Paterson says he's been too busy with the state's financial crisis to devote much time to fundraising. He says the intense scrutiny of campaign dollars is one more reason why he's advocating for public financing of campaigns.
Though Paterson says he's unconcerned, his campaign staff sent last minute e-mails beating the bushes for more donors before the deadline. Andrew Cuomo's campaign aides have sent out similar letters.
The Attorney General, who has not said that he will seek the governor's post, spent the day demanding more information on bonus payouts from the nation's top banks, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs. All of the banks received taxpayer bail out monies.
The Wall Street bonuses are also being closely watched for another reason- they provide needed revenue for New York's depleted coffers. One fifth of the state's tax revenues come from Wall Street related pay and transactions. The State's Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, says while bonus payments may set a new record, they may be in the form of deferred payments, like stock options, instead of cash. He says lawmakers can't count on the financial industry to bail them out of the budget deficit.
"It just may not materialize in the way that some people have been expecting," DiNapoli said.
DiNapoli agrees with Governor Paterson that spending cuts have to occur to restore the state's financial health.