Less than week after calling on lawmakers to address New York’s budget crisis without raising taxes, Gov. Paterson fizzled out and suggested he would take another pop at passing a state soda tax.
“I promise I will put (the soda tax) back in my budget address and give the Legislature another chance to do it,” Paterson said during an interview on WNYC. “But you can’t keep voting down the ways to create revenues and then saying you don’t want to make cuts.”
The governor’s testy remark came after he heard an audio clip of Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) advocating a soda tax and an hike to out-of-state tuition as ways to help close the state’s $3 billion budget gap.
Earlier this year, the Legislature rejected a Paterson proposal to raise more than $500 million annually with an 18 percent levy on sugary soft drinks in favor of a massive tax hike on the wealthy.
A similar tax has since gained favor with Democrats on the federal level as President Obama looks for ways to fund his health care reform plan.
While Paterson said he would open to another soda tax proposal next year, he rejected Jeffries’ claim that such new taxes could help close the $3 billion gap in the state’s current budget.
“He’s right about different ways we can enhance revenues if the Legislature will agree to it,” Paterson said. “But he’s totally wrong because I’m talking about payments that must be met by Dec. 15.”
“I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say this before people understand and are persuaded that we have to act now,” the governor continued.
The governor in another interview also moved back to Oct. 28 the date he expects lawmakers to return to Albany to considering his gap-closing proposal. He had previously selected Oct. 27 for the special session, but Senate Democrats announced they planned to hold a public hearing on the budget proposal that day.
Meanwhile, it’s more grim news for Gov. Paterson this morning as the latest Siena poll found the Democratic executive’s popularity has continued to slide and a record 72 percent of voters would prefer to elect “someone else.”
The statewide survey found only 27 percent of registered voters had a favorable impression of the Democratic governor, down from 29 percent in a similar poll last month. The decline, while still within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error, nonetheless suggests Paterson’s recent efforts to improve his standing with voters have so far fallen on deaf ears.
(Source: NY Post)