January 19, 2009

N.Y. Gov. David Paterson Speaks Frankly About The State’s Dire Economic Situation

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On Jan. 7, Governor David Paterson (D-N.Y.) delivered the State of the State address. In his speech, Paterson’s first since assuming office last March, he focused on the numerous problems that the state is facing. He began the speech with a harsh assessment of New York’s current situation. 
“My fellow New Yorkers: Let me come straight to the point,” he said. “The state of our state is perilous.”
In his speech, Paterson touched on health, education, energy, environmental and economical issues that the state was grappling with, noting the adverse impact of the recession.
“New York faces an historic economic challenge, the gravest in nearly a century,” he said.
“At least 60,000 jobs will be lost in the financial services sector, which is devastating to our state budget,” he explained. “Financial services provide 20 percent of state government revenues, so this year’s budget will be exceptionally difficult.”
On education, Paterson emphasized the key role that education will play in bringing the state out of its economic crisis.
“This current crisis should teach us that the only way to restore our long-term economic competitiveness is to build the world’s best system of education,” he said.
“We must do more than just prepare our children for college; we must help them afford it. That is why I propose we establish the New York State Higher Education Loan Program, which will provide more than $350 million in affordable loans to students in need.”
Paterson expressed dismay at the difficulties students faced in attending University and put forth a government loan program to financially assist college students.
Despite his concerns, Paterson also expressed confidence in New York. He noted that the state remained an innovator in many areas, specifically citing Cornell’s prominence in stem cell research.
“Let me be clear — our state faces historic challenges, but every flaw we perceive can be resolved by the strengths we already possess. What’s wrong with us, we can put right,” he said.
“What’s weak in our state, we can make strong,” he continued. “We cannot solve our problems overnight or without sacrifice — they run too deep for that … But we can solve them and, with courage, we can craft a brighter, smarter future for New York.”