The State of New York's Economy

Today Governor David Paterson gave his State of the State Address. I watched it and you can too.

Why does it matter? Because the state is facing huge budget gaps. It is on the front line in the country's counterattack against the recession.

Only Washington can create money, so the Commander-in-Chief's campaign strategy is the central event, to be announced formally when he takes office on January 20.

On the other hand, the effectiveness of President-elect Obama's stimulus plan will depend on how well the states and localities use the federal stimulus money.

Governor Paterson's broad theme is: "It is our time to lead. The state of our state is perilous. We have been reeling from events. The pillars of Wall Street have crumbled. This is the greatest contraction since the great Depression. But this is not a time for fear. It is a time for courage, hope and action."

Here's my summary, which blends the speech itself with an email about it that the Governor sent out today.

A Moment for Financial Leadership
- We must balance the budget, but it is becoming harder as the gap has been growing because the recession is undermining revenues.."If we can't spend more, we must spend more effectively."
- We need a Washington stimulus program. It should be passed soon, by the end of January.
- We need to lay the groundwork for a new economy. In a deflationary period, the individual virtue of saving, as Paul Krugman has said, is a public vice. We need Washington to support direct spending.
- Financial regulatory reform. "If the federal government does not act, I shall, so that the savings and retirement funds of New Yorkers will not be at risk."

Environmental Initiatives - "45 by '15"
- New York State needs to become more energy independent.
- By 2015, New York will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.
-This will create 50,000 new jobs.
- The state will create a resource for improving energy efficiency in local institutions.
- At the same time, we need universities research and leadership to help set our energy policy.
- By improving energy efficiency in schools, hospitals and local governments, they will save money, and then so will taxpayers.

Investment in Infrastructure, Innovation
- New York State has 40 shovel-in-the-ground-ready projects for roads and bridges.
- We have higher education and statewide broadband installation projects ready to go.
- Computerization of medical records is needed for eficienct health care and just awaits funds.
- We have clean-water and wastewater-system projects ready to start.
- We need to finish our signature projects like the Peace Bridge, the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access.
- We will invest upstate, for example in Niagara Falls tourism and Buffalo biotech.
- We need to implement the Ravitch Commission recommendations for the MTA.

Family Assistance
- We should allow families to cover family members up to the age of 29 in their family coverage plans at their own expense.
- It is unacceptable that one in three New Yorkers from the ages of 19 to 29 is still uninsured.
- We must spend more money on preventive and community health care to save on inpatient care.
- Parents should be helped to understand the reasons for the costly obesity epidemic.
- We should ban trans fats in restaurants and require calorie posting in chain restaurants
- We should ban junk food sales in schools and place a surcharge on sugared beverages.

Encourage Volunteering
- Nearly 3 million New York adults volunteered 397 million hours of community service last year.
- They contributed $7 billion to the state's economy.
- Community service is more important than ever in hard times.
- We need to partner with our nonprofits.
- We need more and stronger Regional Volunteer Centers.
- New Yorkers should find out what they can do.