January 5, 2000
Governor's message stresses needs of Upstate economy; Pledges to ensure that economic growth will "reach every corner of our state"
Governor Pataki today called for renewed efforts to cut taxes and stimulate growth in jobs, with a special emphasis on the needs of the Upstate economy.
In his State of the State message opening the annual session of the Legislature, the Governor said New York has made major strides in improving its economy.
"The challenge now is to ensure that New York's thriving economy continues to reach every New Yorker in every corner of our state," he went on. He said that New York was 42nd in the nation in job growth when he took office and has now climbed to 21st, but needs to get "where we belong-Number One."
The Upstate region, he said, has regained all the jobs it lost in the early 1990s, and private-sector jobs Upstate are now at an all-time high.
"We can be proud of that number," he said. "Proud, but not satisfied."
"To create jobs, we've cut taxes five years in a row," he said. "Let this be the sixth."
As reported on Tuesday, the Governor proposed repealing the Gross Receipts Tax on energy customers, on a phased-in basis beginning with manufacturers.
"When you look at all the taxes imposed that hurt jobs, those on energy affect Upstate the most," he told the Legislature. "The high cost of energy is a drain on the Upstate economy. Upstate has a little more than a quarter of the state's economy, but pays almost half of the state's energy taxes."
He said the state must also cut taxes on small business, restrain the growth in school-district spending, provide tax credits for the redevelopment of brownfield sites, move more state offices into downtown areas, and create economic development zones and high-tech incentive packages to help revive Upstate cities.
"We can ... breathe new life into those Main Streets so they can bustle again with all of the vigor, energy and excitement of their glory days," the Governor said. "Some call it Smart Growth. We call it smart. Period."
The Governor also promised to pursue "the most comprehensive, aggressive and successful regulatory reform program in the nation."
Among other things, he said, his Office of Regulatory Reform would start filling out permit applications for businesses and get them approved, rather than forcing businesses to do the paperwork.
"If you're looking to start a new business in New York or expand an existing one, you'll simply log on to the Internet and fill out one form, instead of five, 10 or 20," he said.
The GRT repeal, small-business tax cuts, regulatory reforms and other measures would benefit business statewide-not just in the Upstate region.
Education and the environment stressed about one-quarter of the Governor's text was devoted to his proposals to cut taxes and take other steps to spur economic growth across the state. In the State of the State message he also:
- Stressed his commitment to higher standards for education. "Too many of our children are victims of the most insidious enemy of excellence, low expectations," he said.
- Proposed new measures to attract new teachers to the schools, including free college tuition for "students who commit to teach critical subjects in our most disadvantaged schools," and more flexible qualification standards for persons in other professions who are willing to switch to teaching.
- Praised the new health-care measures adopted by the Legislature in December, which he said would "give up to one million New Yorkers" access to quality care.
- Promised new efforts to pass legislation reshaping the Superfund program for cleaning up hazardous waste sites.
- Proposed creation of a new research institute to study the environmental and recreational assets of the Hudson River.
- Proposed an Empire State Greenway to link rail trails, greenbelts and similar assets across the state.