ALBANY—A coalition of social service groups attacked David Paterson's latest round of proposed budget cuts, and offered their own three-point plan for closing the enormous deficit.
The coalition—which claims to represent 200 nonprofit and faith-based service-providing groups around the state—said just reducing spending will "devastate" New York's future.
The group's plan first calls for instituting the so-called "millionaire's tax," which would raise taxes on the highest income earner (it's also the object of much spirited debate). Second, they would lobby hard for federal assistance, which Paterson has already done, though it's far from a sure thing. Third, they are asking Paterson to dip into the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund—a pot of just over $1 billion that is set aside for unplanned expenditures. (Paterson said previously that opening the fund would be "a drop in the bucket" and that the root of the problem lay in excessive spending.)
"For too long, we've allowed the wealthiest New Yorkers to not pay their fair share," said Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, pointing to Paterson's rejection of broad tax increases to generate more revenue.
Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said a proposal to scale back aid increases by $800 million in the middle of the year will lead to cancellation of tutoring and after-school programs. "We'll end up with kids in larger classrooms," he said. "It will put school kids in a seriously disadvantaged situation."
During a press conference ealier today in New York City where he announced the cuts, Paterson said that even with the rollbacks, education aid will have increased by 16 percent from 2004-05 school year.
"We think that many of the advocates may not like these cuts, but they can't say that they are beyond the perimeters of what is reasonable to cut at this time with this debt," he said.
NYSUT, a union representing teachers around the state, earlier this week said it will fight cuts and is prepared to run ads against Paterson.