In his twelfth and most likely last State of the State address, Governor Pataki delivered an embellished recollection of highlights from a lackluster tenure. His rhetoric was geared not to an audience of New York State, but to one of a national stage; it is highly theorized that the governor plans to run for the presidency in 2008.
With a mindset already to run for the White House in 2008, Governor Pataki has left many important issues to an ill-fated death this 2006 Legislative Session. Not addressing one of these issues, providing a sound education for students in New York City, will leave 1.1 million students uncertain futures.
The governorís State of the State address made no reference to last yearís landmark decision of C.F.E v. State of New York, in which the court demanded an additional $5.6 billion per year be allocated to city schools that had been consistently under funded for more then a decade. His failure to take constructive measures to provide a sound basic education for the children of New York City has truly placed their futures, and the future of the city in jeopardy.
Many of New Yorkís political elite have called on the governor to dedicate this yearís surprise $2 billion surplus to be used as an act of good faith towards meeting the educational needs of New York City schools. This includes members of the governorís own political party. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have repeatedly requested additional funding for New York City schools to address overcrowding and lack of adequate libraries. Both had high hopes that the budget surplus would be used as a down payment towards complying with the C.F.E decision.
In the New York State Assembly, we were extremely discouraged with the governor failing to address the needs of city schools in the State of the State. With last yearís on time bipartisan budget, we had hoped to continue this time of unprecedented collaboration between parties into the future. Unfortunately, the governor seems to have put a halt to this progress.
I like many other members in the Assembly felt the governor was looking more towards 2008 then at the 2006 Legislative Session. If he wants to appeal nationally, he should start by handling issues right here at home. Adhering to the ruling in C.F.E. will bring historic changes to the educational system of the City of New York, just like Brown v. Topeka Board of Education did nationally over 50 years ago. What better platform could one ask for to run a national campaign on?
Many questions are still left unanswered after the governorís address, ranging from such diverse topics as health care to tax relief. But the governorís negligence to address the educational funding problems of New York City seems to give the impression that he has all but abandoned the children of New York!