NEW YORK NURSE: December 2008
by Nancy Webber
The downturn in the economy, coupled with the loss of jobs and year-end bonuses on Wall Street, is expected to have a devastating effect on state revenues.
According to a report issued in November by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the nation’s financial crisis could cost New York State and New York City 225,000 jobs and $6.5 billion in tax revenue over the next two years.
“Wall Street is the engine that drives the economy of our state, but the global credit crunch has slowed that engine down,” DiNapoli said. “This year is on pace to be one of the worst years ever on Wall Street. Through the first half of this year, broker dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms reported a loss of nearly $21 billion.”
According to estimates, the state will end its fiscal year on March 31, 2009 with a deficit of about $1.5 billion. That amount would balloon to approximately $15 billion by March 2010.
Gov. David Paterson called a special session of the State Legislature on Nov. 18 in an attempt to cut $2 billion from this year’s budget and $3.2 billion from next year’s spending plan. He proposed major cuts in both education and Medicaid payments, two areas that make up the lion’s share of the entire budget.
That session ended before it began, as the governor and legislative leaders were unable to reach an agreement. Legislators were bombarded with calls from their constituents, including NYSNA members, who were concerned about the unexpected financial impact on healthcare facilities and nursing schools.
“Thanks to all our members who contacted their legislators and urged them not to approve mid-year cuts,” said Shaun Flynn, director of NYSNA’s Governmental Affairs Department. “Mid-year cuts would have caused financial disarray for healthcare providers and nursing schools that have planned their budgets around the state spending plan that was approved earlier this year.”
Gov. Paterson has announced that he will release his proposed budget for 2009-2010 in mid-December rather than in January with the goal of having the budget approved well before the April 1 deadline. It is likely that the proposed executive budget will contain significant cuts to health care and education.
NYSNA lobbyists will be meeting with legislative leaders and administration officials to discuss the potential impact of any proposed cuts on patient care and the nursing profession. “The economic crisis will dominate the upcoming legislative session,” said Flynn.
Log on at www.nysna.org and visit the Legislative Action Center in the “Members Only” area for updates on the state budget and how it could affect healthcare delivery in New York State.