NEW YORK (AP/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) — Democratic Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he would refuse to raise taxes to cover the state’s budget shortfall and would seek cuts to politically popular programs like education and health care instead.
“Where do you cut the money? You’re going to cut funds where you spend them,” Cuomo said. “You have no economic future if New York is the tax capital of the nation. To raise taxes to raise more revenue is not the answer.”
Cuomo, the state attorney general, and outgoing Gov. David Paterson spoke to reporters after their first sit-down meeting since Cuomo defeated Republican Carl Paladino in last week’s midterm elections. Paterson praised Cuomo for being “forthright” in explaining to voters the dire state of New York’s economy and budget challenges, even though Cuomo has yet to lay out specifics on how he would solve those problems once in office.
Throughout the campaign, Cuomo insisted he wouldn’t raise New York’s taxes, already among the highest in the nation, despite a projected $9 billion budget shortfall. He said to do so would thwart business and job creation and drive residents out of the state.
Cuomo reiterated the point Tuesday, saying even New York’s wealthiest residents pay plenty of taxes and might leave if pressed for more.
“We have no problem telling rich people they have to pay taxes. We do it extraordinarily well, we do it better than almost any state in the nation,” Cuomo said. “At what point do the rich people say, ‘I’m moving.’ That’s the question.”
Cuomo said he and Paterson are developing a transition office that will recruit employees to serve in the government. Cuomo also said he will begin touring prisons and other state-run facilities this week to assess their operations.
For his part, Paterson said he and Cuomo remain friends despite efforts by Cuomo and his political team to ease Paterson out of the race earlier this year.
Paterson, the one-time lieutenant governor, replaced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in March 2008 after Spitzer resigned for patronizing a prostitution ring. Paterson abandoned plans to run for re-election after it appeared he may have intervened in a domestic violence case involving a close aide. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
“I’m really good with all of this,” Paterson said. “He’s not replacing me. He was elected. I was the replacement. These are the things that happen in the day to day course of life.”
Paterson even joked about a water gun fight he said he and Cuomo had engaged in during a trip to the Adirondacks six years ago.
“David won the water gun fight. It’s a long story. We’ll share it with you some other time,” Cuomo said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)