The pressure to find new ways to close New York's budget gap mounted Wednesday after Gov. David Paterson announced that the projected deficit for the upcoming fiscal year has grown $750 million to more than $8 billion.
"The money simply isn't there," Paterson said.
The new fiscal year begins April 1. Paterson plans to outline his proposals on Tuesday to close the projected $8.2 billion shortfall. Until then, he isn't releasing any details.
The Legislature, which has been holding budget hearings, would have to agree to any cuts or revenue hikes. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the governor's proposed budget relies on unrealistic revenue projections and leading lawmakers questioned the governor's numbers Wednesday.
Paterson said the recession and smaller and fewer bonuses on Wall Street and in the financial services sector resulted in less revenue. "Financial sector bonuses aren't going to bail us out this time," he said.
The state took in less money than projected through a tax on people making more than $200,000 and Medicaid costs were $400 million higher than expected.
Paterson criticized members of the legislature without identifying them, saying some are promising special interest groups continued funding for pet projects.
"We need to take serious steps to address this shortfall," Paterson said. "Unfortunately, the budget news that I have been reading about concerns legislators who are planning to fight for restorations, rather than real reductions in spending."
Despite the shortfall, the state is expected to have enough cash on hand to make it through the current fiscal year.
Division of the Budget spokesman Matt Anderson said the division provided the governor a fair and accurate assessment of the budget deficit based on the most recent information available.
But, along with DiNapoli, lawmakers remained skeptical Wednesday about Paterson's projections.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver warned that the governor's new deficit estimate could still be too low.
"The revenue projections still do not accurately reflect the real shortfall in January receipts, or realistic expectations regarding revenues in February and March," Silver said in a statement. "To meet the governor's new estimates, revenues in February and March would need to grow by 37 percent over last year."
Democratic Sen. John Sampson, majority conference leader, said Senate Democrats share Silver's concerns.
DiNapoli warned that Paterson's budget relies on billions of dollars from overly optimistic assumptions regarding revenue and savings.
"If we can't learn from last year's mistakes, we'll be destined to repeat them over and over again," DiNapoli said in a statement.