CALLS FOR CUTTING LEVIES IN JAB AT DEMS
- Last Updated: 2:28 AM, May 25, 2009
- Posted: 1:47 AM, May 25, 2009
ATTORNEY General Andrew Cuomo has challenged the claim by Gov. Paterson and the Legislature's Democratic leaders that they had to raise taxes last month to balance this year's record-high state budget.
Cuomo, an all-but-certain candidate for governor next year, also rejected new calls by Paterson and others to cap future state spending growth -- saying a cap doesn't go far enough.
And Cuomo, in little-noticed but eyebrow-raising comments on an upstate radio station, also embraced the criticism of runaway state taxes and spending voiced by upstate billionaire Thomas Golisano, who earlier this month said he would move to Florida to avoid $5 million in state taxes.
"We have to talk about cutting taxes, reducing cost. Not just capping growth. Actually reducing the costs, and it's possible," Cuomo told Albany's Talk 1300 AM late last week.
"Reduce the size of government. It's not a line in a speech; it has to be an actuality . . . That's what you hear from the Golisanos of the world."
Asked about continuing calls from many of his fellow Democrats for still higher tax hikes, Cuomo responded, "You can't."
"We had a great period in New York when the economy was going great and everybody wanted to be here," he went on.
"Right now, we hit a flat spot, and if you have a flat spot and business is immobile because they're down in general . . . on top of that, you're going to raise taxes?
"That's a dangerous combination. It's a frightening combination."
Cuomo cited the success of Rochester's "really super" Mayor Robert Duffy in cutting his budget by 5 percent as "the right direction" for state government.
A former senior state official called Cuomo's remarks "the furthest he has gone so far in outlining an agenda for a governor, not an attorney general."
Cuomo initially raised eyebrows when he criticized Paterson's new budget in April, saying the governor and the legislative leaders "must do a better job of reducing government spending to avoid tax hikes."
Last year, Cuomo said Paterson's proposed 4 percent cap on local school property taxes was too high and should be broadened to include all property taxes.
Paterson, whose policy flip-flops have earned him a reputation for unreliability -- even among his own closest aides -- publicly promised last Monday that he would submit legislation replacing the scandal-scarred Public Integrity Commission by the end of the week.
No legislation had been submitted by Friday night, and an aide said Paterson had been too busy to get the job done.
Another view came from a source close to the governor, who called the failure "just another example of David flitting from one thing to another and not having the discipline to get things done."