WXXI Local Stories
5:06 am
Tue March 13, 2007

Spitzer, Senate Continue Argument Over Budget

Albany, New York – Governor Spitzer and legislative leaders got together for a bill signing ceremony over workers compensation reform legislation, but they continued to disagree about the budget, with the governor calling the Senate's spending plan "ruinous" to state finances, and the Senate leader accusing the Governor of "poisoning the waters" with his rhetoric.

There was an atmosphere of benevolence at the bill signing ceremony for the workers compensation reform legislation, as Governor Spitzer and legislative leaders from both parties stood with business and labor leaders to mark the occasion.

In a separate event held later that day, it seemed as though the good will had run dry, as Spitzer blasted Senate Republicans. The Governor has proposed cutting over a billion dollars from the Medicaid budget, much of it from hospitals and nursing homes. He wants to instead steer Medicaid money to patients and front line primary care clinics. Assembly Democrats, in their spending plan, have included around half of the proposed cuts, but Senate Republicans have restored all of the cuts to the health care institutions, while rejecting some of Spitzer's initiatives like fighting childhood obesity, funding stem cell research, and providing universal health insurance for the state's children.

Spitzer also complained that the Senate budget obscures the real amount of spending it would incur, which he called "ruinous" to the state's finances. For instance, he says, it offers property tax rebates at three times the amount of checks issued last year, yet does not deduct the expense from the spending plan.

"To say it's Enron accounting is to be unfair to Enron," Spitzer said.

Bruno, in response, said the Senate plan features $3 billion dollars worth of tax relief, to stimulate the economy. As for Spitzer's criticism that the Senate is not factoring in the expense of property tax rebates, Bruno says it's all in how you count.

"They're counting tax cuts as spending," Bruno said. "We count them as stimulating business."

Spitzer, to add more weight to his words, issued a written statement saying that the Senate Republican's budget would destroy the state's finances by using up all of the reserves and quadrupling debt. Senator Bruno released a statement of his own, calling Spitzer's criticisms "sad and unfortunate", and said the governor should stop "poisoning the water with heated rhetoric", and focus instead on negotiating a budget. Spitzer says he'll do that when the Senate gets "serious" about a real budget plan.