Silver Doesn’t Think Tax Increases Are an Option

ALBANY—Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who pushed for a tax increase on high income earners in this year's budget, just said he doesn't see another hike as part of the solution to New York's latest mid-year budget gap.

"I don't think tax increases are on the table," Silver told Fred Dicker in a radio interview this morning. This is in alignment with comments Paterson has made. When asked what ideas he had for cuts in state spending, Silver said only that he was "looking forward to seeing what the governor presents to the legislature."

Silver also said that he believed that "cuts are mitigated the sooner you do them in the fiscal year," but there is "no point in hauling the legislature back to sit around and hope for an agreement."

The prospect of cutting will mean lots of pushback from special interest groups like labor unions. The AFL-CIO is already planning an ad campaign.

He said the target was to reach an agreement by late September, in private discussions with David Paterson and Democratic leaders of the State Senate. Silver alluded to the fragile structure in that chamber.

"What we have to be able to do is to know that what we're doing is going to pass. It's not going to be just a grandstand piece or one-house bill or anything like that. So I suggested that we may come together with the Senate and try to leave with some kind of agreement with the rank and file and the leadership so that, we know that if we come up with a plan and the governor presents a plan that it will, in fact, become a law," he said.

"The Republicans in the Senate really have no interest in anything but politics," Silver charged. "Therefore we need unanimity among the Senate Democrats in order to pass anything. So I would suggest, let us come forward with a plan that is sound, talk about the plan, and when we're comfortable that the votes are there that we come back and pass the plan."

UPDATE: Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republican, said in a statement that if this round of deficit reduction is like the "disastrous" budget process, then "the Speaker is right — we have no interest in helping him do that."

  Silver Doesn’t Think Tax Increases Are an Option