Gov. David Paterson talked a good game for months about shoring up the state’s finances. He warned everyone from municipalities and school districts to social agencies and others dependent on state aid that there would be some painful cuts.

Gov. David Paterson talked a good game for months about shoring up the state’s finances. He warned everyone from municipalities and school districts to social agencies and others dependent on state aid that there would be some painful cuts.

In the end, Paterson was more talk than action. His proposed 2009-10 budget doesn’t cut deep enough. Instead, Paterson shoves the problem of making up the deficit directly into the faces of the people who can afford it least — state taxpayers — via a plan of new taxes, fees and other ideas that could bleed even more from individuals and businesses.

Instead of making taxpayers dig deeper, the governor needs to cut deeper.

Paterson’s $121.1 billion spending plan does offer some spending cuts, although politicians tend to live by different definitions. In the real world, when the boss makes cuts, it affects travel, expense accounts, equipment purchases, programs, and, unfortunately, people. In Albany, cuts are when funding comes in less than requested.

While Paterson’s budget is flat, it still increases spending by 1.1 percent. Granted, that’s the lowest level of growth since 1996-97, but given New York’s overwhelming financial problems, it’s just not enough. Essentially, his budget holds the line. It should have redrawn it.

Worse is that Paterson’s plan to put things in order relies not so much on tough cuts as it does on creating a new revenue stream that will funded by state taxpayers. He proposes raising money through 88 new taxes and fees on everything from non-diet soda and haircuts to movies, music and games downloaded from the Internet. While some might be called “sin” taxes, many are on everyday necessities — gasoline, driver’s licenses and registration fees and clothing.

Paterson’s plan would pinch taxpayers in others ways, too. Cuts to municipalities and school districts could bring increases in local property taxes; he also wants to boost income tax revenue by closing what he considers to be loopholes and making other adjustments. And he would end the STAR rebate program.

Too many taxes — essentially shouldered by the middle class — are why people are leaving this state. The other reason they leave is jobs, and there was little mention of creating those as part of this economic recovery plan.

More needs to be done. This runaway train is largely engineered by personnel costs, including lucrative state salaries, premium health care plans and a pension system that has been decimated by Wall Street failings now on the back of taxpayers. Paterson needs to take a hard look at this and challenge unions to come back to the table and deal with the realities that are largely responsible for crippling this state.

If state leaders expect things to get better any time soon, they need to stop trying to squeeze more from tapped-out taxpayers and do what Paterson has been preaching for months — cut spending.

Observer-Dispatch