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CBS2 Presses Gov. Cuomo On Less Government Spending To Counter High Rate Of Income And Sales Taxes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's budget time in Albany.

Lawmakers have certain programs they want funded. So where are they finding the money?

A new tax here, a new tax there, or is spending less the answer? CBS2's Marcia Kramer went to ask the governor about how he's weighing those options.

As New York lawmakers get ready to pass a new budget, there are two sobering facts they should consider. First, 1 million people have moved to other states since 2010. Second, according to the Tax Foundation, New Yorkers paid the highest rate of combined income and sales tax than any state in the nation last year.

Web Extra: Gov. Cuomo talks on taxes and spending:

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Long Island calling for a permanent property tax cap, it seemed like an auspicious time to ask the $64,000 question.

Why not simply cut government spending?

"We have the lowest rate of government spending increase in history," Cuomo said.

However, Kramer pointed out that government is still spending more money.

"Less money than any governor you have ever covered," was the governor's response.

To which Kramer replied, "But your budget is still bigger. You're spending more. Don't you think taxpayers deserve a break? Cut in government spending and, therefore, they don't have to pay when you add other taxes -- the gas tax, the internet tax or the pied-à-terre tax?"

Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers the New York State of the State address on Jan. 15, 2009. (credit: CBS2)

In addition to money for state programs the governor also wants congestion pricing and a whole slew of taxes to fix mass transit. Budget watchdogs say there's plenty of room for belt tightening in the $180 billion budget.

"New York state does spend too much," said David Friedfel of the Citizens Budget Commission.

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Friedfel has a list of ways to save money, starting with school aid. He said the state could maintain a sound basic education by simply cutting the rate of increased aid from $1 billion to $164 million. He claims school districts already have the money they need because since 2007, "total education spending in the state has gone up by 40 percent or $20 billion," he said.

He also suggests not spending $500 million in unallocated economic development grants and eliminating the $420 million film tax credit.

Kramer then asked the governor, "Why don't you raise your hand and say, 'I will not pass this budget; I will not sign this budget unless we reduce spending below last year's level,' so taxpayers get a break?"

"I will not sign a budget with new any new taxes besides the pied-à-terre tax," Cuomo said.

"The internet tax? The marijuana tax? The congestion pricing tax?" Kramer asked.

"I am not going to support new taxes," Cuomo said.

Other fiscal watchdogs say there are a lot of smaller projects that can be cut to save money, questioning, for example, why there is a need for a state police barracks in New York City, featuring 200 troopers and a $41 million price tag, when the NYPD has more than 38,000 cops.

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