Gov. David A. Paterson’s proposed $134 billion “budget of necessity” confronts the reality of the fiscal crisis facing New York. Facing a $7.4 billion deficit in the next fiscal year, state leaders have to hold the line on spending.

The proposed budget is up less than 1 percent with practically all of the $787 million increase due to the state share of the budget, which would jump by $745 million with the rest in federal funds. Proposed new taxes and fees — some of which have been tried but rejected — would bring in $1 billion. Cuts have been proposed across the board, with a major exception the state work force.

Not surprisingly, as even legislators should have expected, education and health care take a huge hit in the plan with cuts of nearly $1.1 billion in school aid and $1 billion in health care spending. However, they are two of the major spending categories, and they avoided mid-year cuts after meeting resistance by the same special interests already lining up against the governor’s plan.

The governor would also reduce social services spending by $53 million and cut aid to local governments by $302 million. The state and New York City university systems would also see reductions with students losing $75 of their Tuition Assistance Program aid. Proposed prison cuts would hit the north country with the recommended closing of the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, but a hiring freeze would reduce the state work force by 675 jobs out of more than 196,000.

Instead of broad-based income tax hikes, the governor again resorts to new fees and raising existing taxes on services. Smokers would pay $1 more per pack. Hospitals and nursing homes would pay $240 million more in assessments and surcharges. The governor is again proposing a tax on soda, which lawmakers failed to pass last year. Allowing stores to sell wines and liquors would generate $93 million.

The budget is in the hands of legislators who have shown little interest in the past few months to make the difficult choices that should have been made. The tendency in this election year will be to do more of the same.

Not all of the governor’s proposals will make it through the Legislature. But Gov. Paterson is on the right track. No more rosy revenue projections. No more fiscal gimmicks. No more unrealistic promises. The Legislature has ignored the governor’s pleas to rein in spending for too long. As the negotiations continue, legislators cannot avoid their shared responsibility for putting New York on a sounder fiscal track and putting the state’s long-term welfare ahead of short-term political gains.

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