David Paterson announced that he’s creating a new “blue ribbon panel,” chaired by former M.T.A. chair Richard Ravitch, “to figure out how to ameliorate the hole in the M.T.A. capital budget.”
The hole is there partly because Michael Bloomberg’s plan to provide funds for the capital budget, congestion pricing, was killed in the State Assembly yesterday.
Speaking to business leaders at a breakfast in midtown hosted by the Association for a Better New York, Paterson said Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan “might have had flaws, it might of needed some redevelopment, but it is a plan and, frankly, nobody else has come up with a plan.”
Paterson’s overall message was that he’s on the side of it business leaders when it comes to reducing spending, even if the current budget may not reflect that.
“With a little luck, we will pass New York State’s budget today,” Paterson said, to a round of applause. “At least, that’s what they said this morning,” he joked, before turning serious. “The reality is that in passing this budget, we recognize that there are greater obstacles to overcome.”
He continued, “The budget that was presented to me was too big and too bloated. It had somewhere between a 4.8 and 5.1 percent growth in our state economy.”
That rate of growth is not sustainable, Paterson said, adding that his job now is to convince lawmakers of that.
“You can tell a group of people about a problem and they intellectually acknowledge it, but they don’t think it applies to them. That is the problem that we are having in Albany,” he said. “I am going to go to every legislator and talk to them eyeball-to-eyeball about the problems of this economy.”
“I thought it was a terrific speech,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “I thought, considering where he comes from, as a [state] senator, that he outlined a realistic future that was necessary for the State of New York. He comes from a liberal, Democratic background, yet this was a sober picture of where the state’s economy is. He sent out the message that, ‘we may do the budget today, but I’m telling you right now, the next budget, we’re not going to be able to increase spending the way we’re doing it this year.”
Paterson also critisized “industrial development agencies” and Economic Empowerment Zones for not creating jobs. The S.T.A.R. program, which was supposed to reduce property taxes has, he said, done the opposite.
“And sending back rebates to individuals who are hoodwinked and cajoled into thinking that five percent of the money they sent to the state got sent back to them, and somehow they‘re supposed to be happy about it, is patently ridiculous,” he said.
Paterson left to standing ovations from the crowd and did not take questions from reporters.