Just my Thoughts · Politics

The State of New York State

The governor of New York State gave his State of the State address yesterday.  It lasted less than 30 minutes and, in my mind, was short on true details.

The address was watched via a WGRZ feed on Pressconnects.com.  At least one person had issues with the feed due to browser compatibility so this method is not for everyone.  There was an associated chat feed going at the same time.  The feed on Pressconnects.com was moderated by Jeff Platsky, the digital desk editor.

Many people were thinking the address would be bad news even before Governor Paterson made his way into the chamber.  Of those in the chat area of Pressconnects.com, taxes are the most pressing issue facing New Yorkers.

At 1:10 pm, there was an announcement for all to take their seats but the speech itself did not start until 1:28 pm.  During this time, a discussion on Pressconnects.com discussed whether Paterson would be the Democratic Party’s nominee this year.  Most didn’t think Paterson should run or, if he did, he should not be the nominee.

At 1:20 pm, emergency instructions were announced.  Then, the gavel for the proceedings was given to Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravage.   He made routine thank you announcements and then listed the Congressional delegation that was present:  Congressmen Jerry Nadler, Gregory Meets, Steve Israel, Mike Arcuri, Paul Tacout, Eric Massa, Michael McMahon and Scott Murphy.

Shortly after this, New York State Senator John Sampson introduced Governor David A Paterson.  The governor started with a blanket thank you to many people but did manage to avoid the laundry list of thanks.  He indicated that this is the “winter of our reckoning” with the dire problems facing New York.  He also said that the address would not only be a state of the state but a “state of our self-governance.”

While Paterson indicated he would discuss the state of our self-governance, there was little talk about it as the speech continued.  He went on to say that the old way of doing budgets was unsustainable.  In this, Paterson is correct.  He also mentioned this in last year’s State of the State but when budget negotiations did not go his way and gridlock began, he went to the same old method of leadership in a room and making all the decisions.

Paterson, then, indicated he would discuss reforms for New York.  He said there was no hierarchy in these reforms as all are vital.

Lieutenant Governor Ravage will take the lead on a four year plan towards fiscal recovery.  We “can no longer afford to run New York like a pay day loan operation.”  The governor, again, called for a spending cap.  While a spending cap seems like the reasonable way to approach a portion of NY’s fiscal crisis, there was no talk of mandate relief.  The state cannot continue to push its problems down to the next ladder rung.  If a spending cap is to be put in place, it MUST be accompanied by mandate relief.

Governor Paterson also put forth a plan for complete ethics reform.  The Reform Albany Act would set up an independent ethics commission that would help implement campaign finance reform and help eliminate pay to play actions.  He also, in the name of reform, called for term limits for all state elected officials.  While the idea of an independent ethics commission is good, such a commission cannot implement term limits.  Both term limits and a spending cap would have to be voted on as amendments to the state’s constitution and that will take several years.  Change is needed now.

Many of those who were chatting on Pressconnects.com wanted to know why the delay in calling for a New York State Constitutional Convention.

The final program Paterson presented he called the Excelsior Program.  This would replace the current enterprise zones that do not seem to work.  The Excelsior Program would help create new economy jobs that are sustainable in New York.  It would be open and transparent.  This program, according to Paterson, is the centerpiece of the most aggressive jobs creating in New York State history.

While job creation in NYS is important, the audience seemed less enthusiastic, to me, at this point in the speech.  The applause was less.  The rhetoric seemed to amp up in the address and specifics were less than during the piece regarding ethics reform.

Paterson closed with indicating there is “still time to rebuild New York State” but to do so, we need to “honestly accept reality as it is.”

The speech ended at 1:58, taking approximately 30 minutes including applause.

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