The good news is that Albany has announced a new state budget before the April 1 deadline for the first time in three years. Unfortunately, it features taxes on cell phones, wine, cigars and beer and it eliminates a popular rebate plan.
State Democrats announced a budget deal that pushes spending to a record $132 billion, with $7.8 billion coming out of the pockets of New Yorkers in the form of taxes and fees.
Say goodbye to the popular $1.5 billion STAR tax rebate plan and say hello to $2.3 billion in new extended business taxes and nuisance fees.
Do you like taxes, fees and surcharges? How about a nickel deposit added to bottled water sales? Or a new $1.20 monthly "public safety" tax on cell phones and an increased fee on learners permits?
While the middle class has a few things to complain about in the new budget plan, the upper class is about to get walloped. Some of New York's wealthiest residents will be kicking in an extra $4 billion in income taxes.
The spending plan is $10.7 billion higher than the trimmed-down version Gov. David Paterson released four months ago. Lawmakers added $405 million in school aid, which Paterson had hoped to cut by $698 million, according to the New York Post.
Gov. Paterson and legislative leaders Monday defended their billion budget agreement and its 8.7 percent spending increase a model of fiscal prudence.
"This is a very difficult budget that reflects the extraordinary challenges we face," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Sunday, noting the budget gap was estimated at $16.5 billion.
Overall, the budget restores about a third of the spending cuts Paterson called for in December. Paterson said much of the spending increase results from an increase in federal aid.