ALBANY, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week gave Republican lawmakers in the state Senate a choice: Back his proposed tax and fee increases or face potential cuts to schools and health care.
"If they don't approve that and if we have no revenues, then they're going to be voting for a cut in education and a cut in Medicaid. If that's what they want to do, then let the Republicans do that," said Cuomo, D-New York.
Cuomo's $168 billion budget proposal includes one billion dollars in tax increases, which he has sought to frame as politically popular, such as taxing the companies that make prescription opioids, which have been blamed for an addiction epidemic.
The tax proposals have caused friction with Republican state lawmakers, who insist they'll oppose the increases.
"We don't want to raise taxes. We think that's adverse to the well-being of our constituents," said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown. "We want to create an economic structure and a regulatory structure that enables people to create jobs and a make a good living."
Budget experts say Cuomo's ultimatum isn't necessary and there are other areas of the budget where spending can be slowed.
"There are other areas of the budget that can be cut or you can always reprioritize your priorities and decide you want to focus spending somewhere else," said David Friedfel, Citizens Budget Commission.
Cuomo over the years has sought to stay away from broad-based tax increases, but this year the state faces a four billion dollar deficit. Friedfel says his tax increases may not raise as much revenue as Cuomo expects.
"It's not so much how he's raising, it's rather those revenues will actually come in."
Republicans have called for an end to the Start-Up New York program; a tax-free jobs program Cuomo created that critics say is ineffective.