NYT vs. 'Pain' and 'Hurt' of State Budget Cuts: New York State Edition

April 1st, 2011 9:15 PM

The New York Times vs. state spending cuts, take three. After the New York State legislature passed a $132.5 billion budget under new Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that cuts overall spending by two percent, Albany-based reporter Thomas Kaplan went looking for budget victims for Friday’s “After an On-Time Passage of a Pared-Back Budget, Bracing for the Pain to Come.”

Not once did the Times forward an elementary piece of information -- the state’s $10 billion deficit. The word “deficit” did not appear in the story, although the emotionally laded word “pain” appeared three times, including in the headline. One had to look to local coverage for that basic piece of fiscal information. Instead, Kaplan went around soliciting sob stories, from school teachers, to prison guards, to NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

After the State Legislature on Thursday adopted one of the leanest budgets in recent years, thousands of workers are facing the threat of layoffs, school systems across the state are preparing teacher cuts, and prison guards face losing their jobs as the state decides which prisons to close.

While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers hailed the passing of an on-time spending plan for the first time in five years as a sign of Albany’s behaving responsibly in tackling the state’s financial woes, the consequences of a budget that makes deep cuts in education, health care and other areas will certainly prove severe.

The job cuts would be the biggest single-year decrease in the state work force in at least 15 years, the last time the state’s year-to-year spending decreased.

Now that lawmakers have passed a $132.5 billion budget, the pain predicted by many advocates may soon become real.

“It’s a new day in Albany,” the governor said in a video released Thursday. “Government needs to recognize the new economic reality. Government needs to tighten its belt and cut the waste.”

The belt-tightening will not come without a price, according to officials around the state who were scrambling on Thursday to confront the fallout from the cuts. While the Legislature restored some of the education cuts Mr. Cuomo had proposed, many local officials said it was not enough.


Mr. Cuomo has acknowledged the hurt that his budget would cause. (“You have to remember that every time you talk about a layoff, you’re talking about a family,” he said shortly before unveiling his budget.) But at the same time, his aides say that it is important not to ignore the wider picture.