The New York Taxpayer: Piggybank to the State

(Cross-posted at SLC Republitarian)

New York’s “Governor” Paterson has made it clear, with his proposed $121-billion budget that he’s focused not on New York’s declining economy, but on the fiscal health of the State government. And, as usually happens when you put the cart before the horse, it could spell disaster for both.

Paterson has proposed some budget cuts — not as dramatic as some parties in the news media might suggest, and certainly not dramatic enough — but cuts, nonetheless. There are some good cuts, such as decreasing the benefits and salaries for new state employees and a reduced government workforce (though I’m unsure which state jobs will get the axe; and, given New York’s love affair with bureaucracy, it likely won’t be the ones that should).

Unfortunately, some of those cuts may wind up costing the taxpayer even more money than this budget already does on its face. The $700 million in school aid cuts, for example, while not necessarily a bad thing by itself (if you happen to dislike the Public School system, anyway), may still wind up coming out of taxpayer pockets:

School aid would be cut by an average of 3.3 percent, or nearly $700 million from the current fiscal year, to a total of nearly $21 billion — stoking fears from education officials that local property taxes would need to be increased to make up the difference.

Which is, frankly, a twist of the knife for property owners who, under this new budget, could also lose out on property tax rebates (yup… that program gets cut, too). Which makes you wonder what Monroe County’s Maggie Brooks is smoking:

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, however, praised the governor for a “very reasonable budget” that protects property taxpayers. [Emphasis added]

I’m not generally one to go on tangents mid-blog, but did that remind anyone else of Pravda?

Moving along. Likewise, cuts of aid to hospitals and nursing homes will likely ultimately fall on the taxpayers, in the form of increased cost of service — or increased cost of insurance as those service costs rise.

So, even though the individual taxpayer’s burden will likely stay the same or increase in line with these “cuts,” at least the state is saving money.

To add more heartache to the taxpayer, though, the “governor” has also introduced eighty-eight new or increased taxes and fees. These include the softdrink tax (which I discussed in my last post), new taxes for moviegoers, new taxes for taxis, increased fees for public transportation, a “digital property” tax for music and movie downloads, an elimination of the $.08 tax cap for gasoline, cable and satellite television service taxes, increased taxes on cigars and beer and much, much more.

I shouldn’t have to point out that an increased gasoline tax will increase costs for businesses and cut consumer spending in other areas, and ultimately, likely, cost jobs — not to mention increase the cost of taxis and public transportation over and above what the “governor” is already planning to do through tax and fee increases, which will further strain the resources of metropolitan work forces. I shouldn’t have to mention that softdrink and beer taxes are a tax on the poor and middle class, or that further increasing the price of a movie ticket through higher taxation will keep people out of theaters and likely result in business closings and lost jobs. I shouldn’t have to remind the “governor” that homeowners face hard enough financial times, without the increased burden of higher property taxes.

I shouldn’t have to. But Paterson, evidently, is an idiot. Too bad for us.