Stateline Story

Locals Take Losses in State Budget Cuts

  • December 15, 2009
  • By Stateline author

The trickle-down effect of state budget problems is on display this week in New York and Rhode Island, where governors announced plans to cut aid to localities.

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri (R) on Monday (Dec. 14) announced that he plans to slash about $125 million over the next six months from localities, the Providence Journal reports . The governor has become "increasingly critical of municipal governments in recent months," according to the paper, which notes that the proposed cuts - which must be approved by the General Assembly- are larger than any during Carcieri's seven years in office.

The finger-pointing goes both ways. Localities in the nation's smallest state say the governor "has chosen to shift this burden onto the shoulders of local property taxpayers, instead of proposing bold action that would bring about meaningful, structural change," as Providence's mayor put it.

In New York, the rhetoric is even blunter. Gov. David A. Paterson on Sunday (Dec. 13) declared that the state "has run out of money" and unilaterally cut local aid by $750 million for the month of December, The Buffalo News reports. That amounts to a 10 percent to19 percent cut in aid to schools, social service providers, cities and counties, according to The New York Times , which noted that some lawmakers have characterized Paterson's move as illegal.

Just 24 hours after Paterson's announcement, school superintendents across New York State were "recalibrating their budgets,"The Times reports today. (Dec. 15): "The Mount Vernon School District has largely stopped ordering supplies and equipment for its schools. The Saugerties Central School District has warned 36 teachers that they could face layoffs. The Albany School District is switching to a cheaper food service company starting next month."