Governor Paterson Delivers State of the State Address

On Wednesday, January 6, Governor Paterson delivered his second State of the State address.   Although the details of the Governor’s plan remain to be seen, the two most prominent themes were reform and rebuilding.  Specifically, the Governor focused on ethics reform to bring fairness and openness to state government including the creation of an independent state ethics commission – and fiscal reform that would include a cap on the growth in state spending and the implementation of EmpireStat, a new program to track the progress of state agencies and to help make state government more accountable.  These reforms, under the Governor’s plan, would dovetail with plans to grow the state’s economy.  Such plans include a new Excelsior Jobs program to replace the struggling Empire Zones program, a Sustainable Neighborhoods Project to address the vacant housing stock in upstate New York, and movement toward a clean energy economy and a rebuilt manufacturing base. 

While there was little talk of New York’s local governments, the Governor did allude to the need for relief from both the growing property tax burden and state mandates which hinder municipal efforts to operate efficiently.  Aside from the spending cap proposal, the speech was light on details in this regard but it is expected that the release of the Executive Budget later this month will help municipal officials better understand whether and to what extent the State will do what is necessary to assist its local government partners in revitalizing New York’s economy.