Tuesday, January 11, 2005

State of the State

As many of you know, Governor George Pataki gave his annual State of the State address last week before a joint session of the legislature (times being what they are, the Senators had to sit on Assembly members’ laps).

Just in case you missed the Governor’s address (which can be read in its entirety at http://www.state.ny.us/governor ), we’ve compiled a few of the highlights, taken directly from the Governor’s first draft.

On behalf of all of us, from the Inner Circle to the Outer Limits, enjoy!

Chief Judge Kaye, honorable members of the Court of Appeals, Lieutenant Governor Donohue, the Beaver, Mom, and visitors from galaxies far, far away….

Today we begin a new journey. A journey beyond time and space. A journey into a new dimension, into the depths of imagination. A journey through a place we call The Twilight Zone.

I would like to welcome Helmut Knickerbocker to the chamber. Helmut was found last week wandering in the sub-basement of the “egg,” having gotten lost en route to the LOB sometime during construction in 1976.

Ten years ago, I stepped to this podium for the first time as Governor of the great State of New York. Thankfully, none of us who serve in this chamber have aged a day since then. I make special note of how youthful Dean Skelos looks in his Bar Mitzvah picture. Yes, those of us who serve – and serve – and serve – here in Albany are truly frozen in time.

A decade ago, I reigned over a state that actually had money, actually had jobs and a booming economy, actually had hope for a bright and prosperous future. Then came that horrific day that is forever engrained in the psyche of every New Yorker – Shelly Silver was elected Speaker of the Assembly. The next thing we knew, it was Kosher food in the commissary, morning prayers outside the bill drafting office, and absolutely no business conducted between sundown on Friday and erev Tisha B’av.

I am delighted to be able to tell you that Hugh Carey is still alive and with us today. Its true. Alcohol does preserve you.

Nano-techies take note: A new center for the development of a deficit-reduction accelerator – the first in the nation – will be built on the campus of SUNY Albany (right under the Carillon). What six billion dollars?

Medicaid reform is high on my agenda. If you’re over 65, you have no business living in New York. Go to Canada for your meds; take out a reverse mortgage to pay those outrageous medical costs; and, at long last, let’s invoke the death penalty for anyone who buys Dentucreme.

Did I mention that six billion dollar deficit? Of course not.

This year, the State’s budget will be passed on time. Yeah, right. Anybody wanna buy a bridge?

As one of my first orders of business this session, my Mom has been tapped to head up a new commission to study whether we really need a State Legislature, or any State government, for that matter. She begins her work today, right after she prepares lunch. Thank you, Mom.

I’d like to pause for a moment of silence to honor the memory of a great New Yorker and consummate public servant, Joseph Bruno. Joe passed away while in office sometime during the 90s. Just don’t let him know. It would be a terrible burden to have to take his staff off payroll and move them out of their cushy offices in the Legislative Office Building.

This year, let’s take a good look at special interests, the lobbyists at our doors, and those free lunches at Jack’s. We’ll have no more of it. No less, of course, but certainly, no more. Okay, maybe a little more, since Mom will be too busy with her Commission to make lunch. Thank you, Mom.

We are the seventh safest state in the union. The safest large state. And dead last when it comes to accomplishing anything of significance. Let’s do it again this year.

Let’s debate the issues on the minds of every New Yorker – STAR-Plus (as in, “keep wishing upon…”); the addition of twenty new bird sanctuaries, including several reserved solely for cuckoos; a hydrogen refueling station in Buffalo and a hot air facility right here in Albany.

The Empire State is a wonderful place to conduct business. We have Centers of Excellence – we just don’t know where they are. And right here in the state capital, we have the Pepsi Arena. Albany, or Death Valley, as it has come to be known, is truly the place to be.
New Yorkers want a more open, accountable, and responsive government. I say, to Hell with them!

This year, let's give it to them by the numbers. Tax cuts? Sure, why not? By the time they figure out that we’ve mortgaged the future of every man, woman and child in this state, I’ll be well on my way toward the Republican nomination for President, and Rudy can carry my coat once again.

September 11th changed everything. On September 10, 2001, I was just another lackluster figure on the national scene. A grape farmer of little repute. A former Assemblyman from Peekskill, a small town nestled between nowhere and no place. A mediocre Governor with no record of accomplishment.

Today, your Governor is poised to move front and center on the national stage. Yes, the times do make the man. And even though New Yorkers generally hold me in low esteem, with approval ratings hovering around 40%, we all know that New York doesn’t matter anymore in national politics. We’ve been surpassed by Ohio, Minnesota, and a couple of states with palm-fringed beaches. So who really cares?

I am pleased to welcome among us Buster Crabbe, who, although he succumbed to Hunter’s Disease in 1985, is here with us today. Welcome, Buster. God bless you. And God bless America.
As we begin to think about the 2008 Presidential primaries, I can tell you that New York is stronger; New York is safer; New York is better educated; New York is a healthy, environmentally-friendly state. Heck, I can tell you anything I like. I’m the Governor. And most of you aren’t paying attention anyway.

Yes, I never quite figured out how to smile without looking like a duffis, but it doesn’t really matter. Most New Yorkers who actually care about property tax reform, affordable housing, quality education and health care, have already packed their bags and fled to warmer climes. The rest, including many of you who have secured lifetime pensions and medical coverage through your service in these hallowed halls, will soon follow suit.

This morning, I issued a Proclamation naming myself as the Best Governor EVER, a title I will wear with honor. I also signed an Executive Order, which directs Invitrogen of Grand Island to initiate the cloning of your Governor. In the not too distant future, there will be a Pataki in every pot, and a Libby on every label.

I stand here before you this afternoon to tell you that my daughters, Emily and Alison, are not gay. I can’t vouch for my son Ted, though. He’s always been a bit light in the pants. Anyway…
From Fulton to Hempstead (and you thought I wouldn’t mention Long Island at all), we’ve left more children behind than bills that have withered on the vine in this legislature’s committees. In Yonkers, we are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to uncover a lost river, while the public schools decay and academic achievement slides. In Coxsackie, ah, well, we actually aren’t doing anything in Coxsackie. I just like saying the name.

To quote a great New Yorker, Alfred E. Smith, “What, me worry?” No wait. That was Alfred E. Newman. Never mind.

But seriously, John Winthrop once saw America as a shining light to the nations. Hey, he should see what we’ve done with this place. Man, what a dump. And who decided to make Albany the State capital? They roll up the sidewalk at Noon, and try walking up State Street in the ice. Can’t wait ‘til Washington calls!

We’re going to have a great session in 2005. I can feel it in my bones. No, really. I can. The sun is peeking through the clouds; I don’t have to give this speech again until next January; and Mom is in the kitchen at the Executive Mansion making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of us. Thank you, Mom.

By the way, sign-up sheets for this year’s legislative softball teams are available at the door.
And so, with high hopes and well-grounded optimism, let us walk confidently into the future - leading New York, pointing the way to an even brighter and better tomorrow.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless New York. Oh, and one more thing – LIVE FROM THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE, ITS SATURDAY NIGHT!

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