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January 3, 2007

Governor Spitzer's State of the State emphasizes economic revival and government reforms
The Governor's agenda addresses eight of 10 top priorities identified by Council members in a December survey

Declaring that "New Yorkers have resoundingly rejected the status quo," Governor Eliot Spitzer Wednesday outlined a broad range of policy proposals aimed at reforming state government and reinvigorating the economy.

In his State of the State speech at the state Capitol in Albany, Governor Spitzer repeated themes he sounded throughout his campaign and again last Monday in his inaugural address.

And, in outlining a broad range of priorities, the Governor addressed eight of the top 10 priorities identified by Business Council members as their top concerns in a survey that was released last month. Those priorities are: health insurance costs; workers' compensation reform; energy costs; economic-development programs and incentives; workforce development and training; innovation, science, and technology; local government consolidation; and public authority reform. The two top Council priorities not mentioned in the State of the State are business tax relief and liability insurance and lawsuits.

Specific proposals of interest to business include workers' comp reform, property-tax relief for middle-class homeowners, steps to ease energy costs by increasing supply, and new accountability requirements for schools and municipalities linked to increases in their state aid. He also called for restraint in the growth of state spending, and he said he would propose no tax increases this year.

"I report to you that the condition of many New Yorkers is superb, but whole communities have been left behind," Governor Spitzer told state legislators in his speech. "As the world has transformed and moved forward, it is only Albany that has stood still."

A centerpiece of his administration's policy efforts will be steps to improve the state's business climate, Governor Spitzer said.

"As the economy becomes global, and reveals our competitive disadvantages, we must reduce the burdensome cost structures that have driven businesses out of our state," he said, as the Legislature burst into applause. "We must adapt to the Innovation Economy. . . the knowledge-based economy of new businesses and new ideas that has become the driving force of job creation in the world today."

The Governor proposed:

Fiscal restraint

The Governor's speech urged state lawmakers to make a new commitment to spending restraint.

"Despite a momentary cash infusion, we are operating in a deficit environment, with out-year deficits conservatively estimated in the tens of billions of dollars," Governor Spitzer said.

"The fact is that recurring expenses this year and in the fiscal years ahead are much greater than recurring revenues. That simple reality leaves us with a simple choice: either we raise taxes and place an even greater burden on New Yorkers, or we end the culture of spending that is out of control."

His budget will propose no tax increases and will instead proposal a slower rate of growth in spending, "which has increased at three times the rate of inflation over the last four years. Just last year alone, General Fund spending increased by an astonishing 13 percent. We must end this culture of spending money we do not have."

Health care proposals

The Governor also said that health-care reform is essential both "to make health care affordable again and to free up the resources for other urgent priorities."

The Governor proposed:

Energy-related proposals

Governor Spitzer also proposed:

Government reform

The Governor proposed:

"You can't change the world by whispering," Governor Spitzer said. "New Yorkers didn't whisper for change on Election Day; they shouted for it. And today is when we all come together in this chamber and respond."