2009 State of the State Summary
Governor Paterson's first State of the State address focused on the state of the economy, and New York's budget gaps, saying that, "the state of our state is perilous."
But he also described his blueprint for going forward and promoting economic recovery, which includes a mix of funding programs, regulatory approaches and some additional fees and assessments. He stated his priorities as:
- first, balance the budget, and
- second, strengthen our health care system; improve schools; create jobs; rebuild our infrastructure; clean up our environment; and begin a clean energy revolution, and
Having released his Executive Budget three weeks earlier, the Governor did not revisit financial issues to any great degree. In part, he said "many people assume that the only way to build that future is to spend more. I disagree. I believe we can rebuild our economy, improve our health care and education systems, and make the transition to clean energy — not by spending more, but by spending more effectively."
Specific issues and initiatives of interest to the business community include:
- to address the state's high property taxes ,he recommended adoption of recommendations from the Commissions on Property Tax Relief and Local Government Efficiency, including adoption of a property tax cap.
- He reiterated his budget proposals to dramatically limit the Empire Zone program, saying that those savings will be used for strategic investments in “job-creating industries of tomorrow,” such as biotechnology and manufacturing, and for new research and development tax credits.
- he directed the Empire State Development Corporation to identify “transformational projects” in our upstate communities, to be supported through the upstate development fund created last year.
- he urged the federal government to adopt a comprehensive stimulus package, including significant funds for state-level infrastructure projects. His infrastructure reinvestment program would encompass a wide range of projects, including roads and bridges, higher education institutions, statewide broadband, the computerization of medical records, and clean water and wastewater systems.
- he proposed that the state meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy by 2015, a sharp departure from the state's previous “15 by 15” initiative. To create a needed “clean energy economy,” he is urging the Public Service Commission to provide additional financing mechanisms to energy efficiency and renewable. He suggested that the state's emphasis on “clean energy” will create 50,000 new jobs.
- in response to the problems in the financial services sector, the state would impose additional regulation of this service sector, if the federal government fails to act.
- allow parents to pay for continued health care coverage under their employer-provided plan for their children, until age 29.
- saying that childhood obesity is "the greatest threat to our children's health today," he announced a five part program to combat "the epidemic of obesity," including a new revolving loan fund to support "healthy food markets in underserved communities," banning use of trans fats in restaurants, and - as was proposed in the budget - imposing a $400 million surcharge on sugared beverages (although only a small fraction of that revenue would go to obesity-related programs.)
- he proposed that the state would create a $350 million Higher Education Loan Program, to replace private sources of student loans.
He also said he has received the preliminary report from the Commission on State Asset Maximization, which focused on opportunities to privatize state assets.
- He proposed to meet 45 percent of the state's electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy by 2015. To create a needed “clean energy economy,” he is urging the Public Service Commission to provide additional financing mechanisms to energy efficiency and renewable. He suggested that the state's emphasis on “clean energy” will create 50,000 new jobs.
- as part of this “green energy” initiative,' he proposed an upstate research consortium on hybrid electric batteries and energy storage technologies. create a New York Energy Policy Institute to coordinate the necessary knowledge base and expertise of our higher education institutions.
Several of these proposals were included in the Governor's Executive Budget proposal issued in mid-December, others would be the subject of separate legislative proposals or executive actions.