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Governor’s Proposed Budget Returns Some Vital Funding to Emergency Food Programs

December 17, 2008

Governor Paterson yesterday released the details of his $121 billion 2009 Executive Budget, which includes 4.4 million in increased funding for emergency food programs. Governor Paterson reduced emergency food spending by 22% over the past year leaving food pantries and soup kitchens across the City unable to meet the growing demand.

Still absent from Paterson’s proposal is the “millionaire’s tax,” which would generate over $5 billion in state funds over the next five years by charging wealthy New Yorkers a 3/4 of one percent surcharge above their current tax rate. The Governor has avoided such a levy, claiming that it would drive wealthy residents out of the state.

Emergency food program funding would instead be generated by the Governor’s health care savings package, which frees up $3.5 billion by focusing funds on primary care, rather than in-patient medical facilities and by decreasing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Budget savings from the proposed health care package would also be used to streamline Family Health Plus applications and support obesity prevention programs.

Despite the allocation of necessary funds to food programs, the budget includes substantial cuts in human services and public education. The plan also relies upon a series of regressive taxes to boost state revenues, including a controversial 18% tax on non-diet sodas and a 5% on luxury goods over $20,000.

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