Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Services Slashed Again Under Paterson’s Proposed Cuts

On November 13, Governor Paterson unveiled a proposal that would enact sweeping state budget cuts, including cuts in human services. Paterson has warned that the plan “represents a series of difficult choices across virtually every area of State spending.” Although it is not yet clear how much funding for emergency food programs will be cut from the most recent proposal, any reduction in funding will be deeply felt by these programs because the state government has slashed the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (the HPNAP) by 22% since April 2008.

The plans most drastic cuts will hit education and health care. School aid would be decreased by $836 million and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals would also be substantially reduced.

The plan would allegedly generate $5.2 billion in state funds over the next two years, eliminating the state’s 2008 deficit and securing future payment on the 2009 deficit. Governor Paterson has declined to cut into the City’s $1.2 billion “rainy day fund” or to raise taxes in order to raise state revenues.

“The most effective way to make the state stronger through this crisis and minimize the harm to the economy and vulnerable population is using every means at the state’s disposal, such as excess reserve funds and progressive revenue enhancements,” added James Parrot, Deputy Director & Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Non-profit groups rallied against the proposed cuts at government office buildings across the state. “We went through this in the 70’s, it was the worst period in New York’s recent history, and it lasted over two decades,” said Ed Ott, Executive Director at the New York City Central Labor Council, of the proposed plan. “It is the job of the government to go and find the money and keep essential services. We don’t want another 25 bad years in this city. If they cut us out, we won’t climb out easily.”

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