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New York Governor David Paterson
New York State Budget
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December 19, 2008

It's not an easy time to be a governor. The federal government is facing lowered revenues and massive outflows for the Wall Street bailouts and will have little to spare for states. And, unlike the federal government, many state governments have balanced budget laws that prohibit them from carrying a deficit. At least 43 states face budget shortfalls in this fiscal year, or will face them in the coming one, according to the Center on Budget Policy Priorities. The head of the National Governors Association, Raymond C. Sheppach, has predicted that states may face as much as $200 billion in deficits over the next two years.

David A. Paterson, who became New York's 55th Governor on March 17, 2008, following the resignation of the disgraced Eliot Spitzer, faces a double challenge. On March 16, 2008, the Federal government announced that it had engineered JP Morgan's purchase of the collapsing firm Bear Stearns. Only a harbinger, Bear Stearns was followed that autumn by a procession of high-profile failures on Wall Street in the largest financial disaster since the Great Depression. New York State, which relies on Wall Street for 20% of its tax revenue, soon had the largest budget shortfall in its state history — $15.4 billion dollars. Paterson's 2009/2010 state budget is subtitled: "Greatest Economic and Fiscal Challenge of Our Lifetime."

Governor Paterson joins Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL to discuss his budget plan for New York, and the problems facing governors across the United States as they struggle to close budget gaps in a tough year.

>Find out where your state might be cutting costs from the resources links below.

Governor David A. Paterson
Governor Paterson began his career in government in 1985, when he was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest senator in Albany. In 2003, he became the minority leader of the New York State Senate, the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention. He became New York's first African-American Lieutenant Governor in 2007 and is now New York's first African-American governor.

According to his official biography, as Lieutenant Governor, Governor Paterson's primary legislative focus was on: a $600 million stem cell research initiative in New York, the nation's second largest allocation; a statewide renewable energy strategy that harnesses the sun and wind; preventing domestic violence and empowerment of its victims; and championing minority- and women-owned businesses in New York.

Governor Paterson, who is legally blind, is nationally recognized as a leading active advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a member of the American Foundation for the Blind. In addition, he is a Member of the Board of the Achilles Track Club, having completed the New York City Marathon in 1999. He serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Governor Paterson was born May 20, 1954 in Brooklyn, NY to Portia and Basil Paterson, the first non-white Secretary of State in New York and the first African-American Vice-Chair of the National Democratic Party. Paterson earned his bachelor's degree in History from Columbia University in 1977, and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982. He serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia's School for International and Public Affairs.

Published on December 19, 2008.

Guest photo by Robin Holland.

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References and Reading:
National Association of State Budget Officers
"Founded in 1945, NASBO serves as the professional organization for all state budget officers of the fifty states and U.S. territories. NASBO is an independent association with membership consisting of the heads of state budget offices, state finance departments and their staffs."

New York 2009-2010 Executive Budget
Official Web site of the Governor's proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: State Budget Troubles Worsen
"States are facing a great fiscal crisis. At least 43 states faced or are facing shortfalls in their budgets for this and/or next year. States are currently at the mid-point of their fiscal year which started July 1 in most states and are in the process of preparing their budgets for the next year. The outlook for state budgets remains grim." Budget gap could widen to $200 billion, December 15, 2008 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news site that practices journalism in the public interest by reporting on emerging trends and issues in state policy and politics.

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