Governor promises jobs plan,
tax cuts, education reforms
Declares that New York has turned around and now 'stands at the dawn of its greatest day'
Governor Pataki launched the 1998 legislative session today with a ringing declaration that New York State has "restored the dream" and is on the way to a new era of growth and opportunity.
In his annual State of the State message to the Legislature, the Governor promised aggressive new efforts to "accelerate and expand" the state's "job-producing tax cuts," to expand "Jobs Now" and other economic development programs, to remedy failures in the education system, and to speed up property-tax relief for senior citizens.
More specifics on those ideas are expected to emerge when the Governor introduces his proposed new state budget, on Jan. 20. The State of the State message said the budget will propose roughly doubling the state tax cuts now scheduled to take effect in the next fiscal year, to about $1.2 billion. And the Governor said he will ask that for senior citizens, the school property tax relief that is supposed to be phased over three years under the state's new "STAR" program instead be implemented fully this fall.
The Governor said that when he took office three years ago, "the spirit of imagination, resourcefulness and creativity that gave rise to the greatest state in the nation was withering away under a haze of government rules, regulations and red tape. Working families were working too hard for a government that taxed them beyond their means, to pay for more programs and bigger bureaucracies that didn't meet their needs."
"Before we arrived here three years ago," he added, "New York led the nation in raising taxes. Every year since then, New York has led the nation in cutting taxes."
"We cut the taxes that were hurting business and killing jobs. And the result has been more jobs," he said.
"We cut the cost of workers' comp by an astounding 31 percent. And the result has been more jobs. We cut the Gross Receipts Tax on energy, passed our Power for Jobs program, and now we're moving aggressively towards opening up our energy markets to full competition. Electric rates are going down. And the result has been more jobs."
In addition to unspecified additional tax cuts and an expansion of the Jobs Now program, the Governor again called for "securitization" legislation to cut electric costs. And he said his administration would collaborate with local governments to designate sites where potential high-tech businesses can get pre-approval of building and environmental permits.
The Governor proposed a series of new initiatives to improve the performance of the education system, including:
- The creation of special, six-week summer remedial programs for fourth-graders who do poorly on reading tests.
- A pilot English Immersion Program to help immigrant children become fluent in English.
- Authorization for "charter schools" -- a form of public school that functions with less oversight by bureaucracies and teachers' unions.
- Elimination of fiscal incentives that have led districts to place too many children inappropriately in special education programs.
The Governor also promised "a bold new initiative that will pump new life, ideas and energy into our SUNY and CUNY systems."
In addition, the Governor said he would propose legislation "guaranteeing access to comprehensive health coverage for every single child of New York through the age of 18."
January 7, 1998