First Look at the Budget: Cigar Tax Up, City Aid Way Down

budget books First Look at the Budget: Cigar Tax Up, City Aid Way DownALBANY—David Paterson's new budget totals $121.1 billion, including deficit-bridging measures of $1.7 billion for the remainder of the current fiscal year (until April), and $13.7 billion for the 2009 budget year.

A couple of notable cuts:

– An 18 percent tax on soft drinks that contain less than 70 percent natural fruit juice. It is expected to raise $404 million.

– School aid will be reduced by 3.3 percent, or $698 million. No cuts are have been ordered for the current school year.

– The STAR rebate program will be eliminated at a savings of $1.4 billion. Property tax exemptions under the program remain.

– Agency consolidations will require 521 layoffs. The workforce is expected to decrease by 3,108 through attrition and other means. Public employees are also asked to forgo a scheduled three percent raise and to "lag" paychecks by five days–both proposals introduced earlier. It is estimated to save $368 million.

– Eliminate $328 million in aid to New York City, and freeze it for other cities around the state.

– Reinstate tax on clothing under $110, raising $462 million.

– Increase the cigar tax by 17 cents, raising $10 million.

– There are 17 pages of "revenue actions." They include increasing the fee for registering a car from $44 to $55, driver's license renewal from $50 to $62.50 and food licensing fees from $200 to $400 for processors and warehouses. The actions are expected to raise $2.2 billion.

– Trim $3.5 billion from health care programs through fraud prevention, controlling growth and reimbursement to nursing homes.