Gov. Paterson Defends Deficit Reduction Plan

October 19, 2009 Updated: October 19, 2009

NEW YORK—Gov. David Paterson met with business leaders from New York City on Sunday, Oct. 18, to discuss his $5 billion Deficit Reduction Plan. The plan includes budget cuts across the board.

Gov. Paterson said he wasn’t going to let the state go into a deficit and that the state cannot keep spending money it doesn’t have.

“The decisions we make for the next few months will be paramount and affect us for the next five to 10 years,” he said.

Business Council representatives from about 20 companies, including groups like Partnership NY and Con Edison, attended Gov. Paterson’s conference; many backed the governor’s plan and said that the governor would have the full support of every responsible person in the business community.

“New York was hit harder than any other state,” Paterson said about the recession. “Revenue is down over twice as much as any other state and twice the national average.”

Budget cuts are bound to be unpopular and the governor acknowledged this, but said he would not tie the state’s financial situation to his future.

“Anyone that would think that is so obtuse and selfish that they shouldn’t be in public office,” he said. “I expect the legislators to act responsibly.”

Paterson compared New York’s financial situation to other states facing severe recession problems. California borrowed $9 billion and their credit rating is now triple-B, one level above junk bonds.

If New York were to keep spending money it didn’t have, the state would end up paying more interest than principle for years to come.

“I won’t let New York do that,” he said. “I hope people appreciate that the sacrifices I am asking we make are across the board.”

Organizations such as Untied Federation of Teachers (UFT) have disagreed with Gov. Paterson’s Deficit Reduction Plan, and he says that he understands that their job is to cater to their constituents, but he believes that the cuts New York will have to make will not affect the state nearly as much as in the long run if the state goes into debt.

“Ninety-five percent of schools hold reserve funds,” he said. “No child would get less education, no teacher should be laid off, no Medicaid patients will be cut.”

Pennsylvania is currently unable to pay their school districts at all, 25 five states have shut down pre-K education, Michigan has closed 25 percent of their libraries, and only 14 states—including New York—have maintained their credit rating.

Paterson referred to previous recessions that were worse than the current one and how people got out of them, and strongly suggested that advocates against the Deficit Reduction Plan read about business leaders in the 1970s.

Paterson said that he thinks we’ve gotten too soft, that people say that they understand we’re in a recession, but don’t understand that we have to make sacrifices.

“Cooperation is what we need right now,” Paterson said. “It’s a painfully difficult decision, but the results will be greatly rewarding.”