Albany, NY, Jan 19, 2010 — In his State-of-the-State address two weeks ago, Gov. David Paterson predicted this would be "a winter of reckoning."
This morning, he and his budget director began to fill in the details. For the North Country, they include closure of three prisons--in Ogdensburg, Lyon Mountain and Moriah--as well as both Adirondack Park Visitors Interpretive centers, at Paul Smiths and Newcomb. Roughly 480 high-paying government jobs are at stake.
State Sen. Betty Little's spokesman Dan Mac Entee told North Country Public Radio the prisons will close in 2011, "Obviously the Senator is very concerned. It's not altogether surprising that upstate facilities are once again targeted for closure. Given the concentration of power downstate it's hard to fight back against something like that."
The governor said New York's budget is caught between rising fixed costs and an addiction to overspending. It's crashed, he said, and the state can't put off a remedy. Paterson said the state is facing a $7.4 billion deficit in the coming year.
The $134 billion budget the governor proposed today closes that gap, and lays out a four-year plan for recovery. The governor is asking for a 5% cut in school aid--$1 billion overall--as well as $1 billion in new taxes and fees. In addition to the billion-dollar cut in school aid, Paterson wants a $1 billion cut in health care spending, much of which goes to hospitals and nursing homes.
He said: "This is not a budget of choice, this is a budget of necessity."
We'll have more during All Before Five this afternoon, and The Eight O'Clock Hour tomorrow morning.