Governor’s “State Of The State” Address Struck An Optimistic Tone, But New Yorkers Want To Know: Will He Follow Through On His Promises And Make 2010 The “Year Of Reform?”
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
January 11, 2010
Happy New Year! My first weekly legislative column of 2010 is being written the day after Governor David Paterson delivered his 2010 State of the State Address to legislators, statewide elected officials and all New Yorkers. This address is given every January and helps set the policy agenda for the new legislative session. “A WINTER OF RECKONING” At the onset of his address, the Governor broke with tradition and dispensed with the formal recognitions of all the elected officials gathered in the Assembly Chamber to hear his speech. This allowed him to get right to the point: “This is the winter of reckoning for New York. Cultures of addiction to spending, power or approval have doomed empires, and they now threaten the Empire State,” were the opening lines of the Governor’s speech and, frankly, they captured the true “state of our state” as it relates to the generational challenges confronting it. JOB ONE: GETTING PEOPLE OUT OF WORK, BACK TO WORK 2010 needs to be the “Year of Reform” – fiscal reforms like no new taxes, a property tax and state spending cap and more private sector jobs – and governmental reforms such as enacting initiative and referendum, term limits for Leaders and legislators, a ‘People’s Convention,’ and the toughest ethics laws in America. Yes, we need reform, but we also need a full court press to fix our economy, especially upstate. As a businessman and an entrepreneur, I believe our most pressing challenge is getting a comprehensive jobs and economic development program finally in place to put the nearly 800,000 New Yorkers who are out of work, back to work. GOVERNOR’S WORDS NEED TO MATCH HIS ACTIONS With New York’s unemployment at a 26-year high, families paying the second-highest combined state and local taxes in the nation and citizens losing faith in a state government that has continually broken faith with them, we cannot miss this opportunity to deliver on the unfulfilled promise of reform. While the Governor’s speech struck an optimistic tone, the question all New Yorkers want answered is this: will he follow through on his promises? Last year we heard similar talk of fiscal responsibility, but then the Governor signed off on a budget containing $8.2 billion in taxes and fees, along with a nearly ten percent hike in government spending. That was a recipe for fiscal disaster and, as the state’s budget deficit swelled to $3.2 billion, it was clear that our Conference and I were correct to vote against that bad budget. The Conference I lead is 100 percent prepared to work with the Governor if his words match his actions and reform – fiscal, governmental, and economic – are at the top of the policy agenda. We want the Governor to succeed and, quite frankly, New York State needs him to succeed. However, as the Governor alluded to in his address, success won’t be measured in lofty rhetoric, but whether more New Yorkers are employed, paying less in taxes, and finding their faith and confidence in state government restored. Ultimately, that will be the metric that counts. As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.