Monday, February 22, 2010

Will We Ever Make Difficult Choices?

Deviating a bit from the world of estate planning, recently there have been a number of news stories regarding Gov. Paterson's proposed budget cuts to help close New York's huge budget deficit. Today I read an article discussing proposed cuts in early childhood intervention programs. The article of course quoted parents and service providers complaining about the proposal to reduce services and begin charging families (over a certain income level) user fees. Whenever there is a proposal to cut a program or require more user fees, people affected by the program cry foul, and the elected representatives are invariably quoted as saying "this is a program that should not be cut."

Few people want to see a reduction in services. However, we are always hearing complaints about New York's oppressive taxes that are driving families and businesses out of the state.

We can't have it both ways. New York provides more social services than any other state, but of course that costs money. When revenues were flush, the state could afford to be more generous. But unless New York's citizens are prepared to pay more taxes -- and after hearing repeated complaints from clients regarding the high costs of living in New York, I don't believe most New Yorkers would be willing to pay more in taxes -- it seems likely that we're just going to have to learn to live with fewer services. I just hope that the cuts are made equitably among the myriad of services and programs throughout the state.

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