Paterson Orders $500 Million in Cuts

patersonspeaksright.jpgGovernor Paterson today ordered an 11 percent cut in the state's budget, which he says would amount to half a billion dollars in savings for the cash-strapped state.

"When combined with last year's actions," the Governor claims, this "would result in annual, recurring savings of $1.5 billion." (The current state budget is $131.8 billion.)

The governor and his budget director, Robert L. Megna, laid out dozens of specific "savings targets": these include large cuts in higher education, dunning SUNY ($90 million), CUNY ($53 million, contingent upon the legislature's approval), and the Higher Education Services Corporation ($35.6 million). Correctional services would lose $69.3 million, the Health Department $36.9 million, Taxation and Finance $10.5 million, etc. (The Greenway Heritage Conservancy gets off light, with a $4,000 trim; the State Police drops $10.5 million)...

The Governor expects these cuts to be effected in spending on "travel, printing, vehicles, leases, energy, postage, consultant contracts, and equipment," which may be why the New York State Public Employees Federation quickly announced that it is "encouraged that the governor realizes there is savings to be had by reducing the state's reliance on costly private consultants." (Union leaders -- and state legislators -- really hate layoffs.)

Nonetheless Paterson hopes his commissioners will "utilize further employee attrition and severance payments beyond those assumed in their workforce reduction plans." Good luck.

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