Pull Down The Shades And Lock Your Doors, The Legislature Is Back In Session
Last year at about this time, we spoofed Governor Pataki's 2005 State of the State address. This time around, we pledge to be more serious -- after we thank George's mom for turning that $4 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus. Do you realize how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches mom had to hawk outside the Pepsi Arena to raise that kind of dough? Thanks, mom. And thank you, Libby, for eating all those sandwiches... [Click HERE to access Governor Pataki's 2006 State of the State address.]
After the obligatory "thank yous," "mazel tovs," and "I never knew you existed when you were alive, but now that you're gone...," the Guv got down to business. You know you're in trouble when a conservative Republican (or someone who would now like to be thought of as one), alludes to JFK. [Hey, at least Kate Murray, in her inaugural as Town of Hempstead Supervisor, quoted Ronald Reagan. Never mind that it was something Reagan mumbled during his final days at the ranch. "Mommy, I can't reach the light..." Kate, it was voodoo then, and it is still voodoo now. According to Newsday, Supervisor Murray pledges a 'Bright Dawn' (we love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning), heralding in that soaring (snoring?) tomorrow with "Christian and patriotic musical performances" (and not a single Chanukah melody). Kate, you cannot deliver a "bright dawn" to America's largest township as you ride that rickety GOP Machine into the twilight!]
But we digress.
No shining city on the hill for George Pataki -- who still thinks he is presidential material (for Saturday Night Live, perhaps) -- just a laundry list of "I believe" (no mention of tooth fairies, ghosts or Peter Pan), and more "together"-ness than we've seen in Albany since Andrew Stein velcroed that wig to his bald head. [Whatever happened to Andrew Stein, anyway?]
Back to that $2 billion surplus. We'd like to say that the Governor urged the Legislature to use at least some of that money to restore social and economic programs that, over the last 12 years, withered and died on the vine. No such luck. Or maybe some of that surplus will be used to fully fund state mandated educational initiatives or to reduce the property tax burden for New York's sticker-shocked homeowners. Ahhhh, no.
Instead, it is the "pro-family tax cut" -- you know, the tax cut that puts millions back into the pockets of those in the top 1% of the income scale, while giving the rest of us a buck-ninety-five (which, of course, you will contribute back to the State's Endangered Platypus Fund, as designated on the new NYS IT-215).
How about reducing -- or even eliminating -- the local burden for programs such as Medicaid, or giving parity to all school districts across the State, so that districts from Grand Island to Long Island will all get their fair share of the State-Aid pie? Fuggetaboutit!
We'll just keep telling 'em how STAR is putting money back in homeowners' front pocket (which STAR program, according to Mr. Pataki, has "cut New Yorkers' school property tax bills by almost $18 billion since 1998." Gee, and you thought your school property tax bill had increased by at least that amount since 1998), as school districts pick every last penny from the back pocket. The Governor promises a "rebate" check to homeowners, this in lieu of a permanent fix of the broken property tax system.
George took a trip to China last summer, where he discovered the world is flat. It is flat, and we're about to fall off the edge.
The Governor wants to give a free ride at SUNY and CUNY schools to students who pursue math or science degrees and commit to teaching in New York State. Bravo! And while we're at it, let's give free tuition to ALL SUNY/CUNY students who pursue degrees in any field, and commit to live and work in New York State after graduation so that we can rebuild New York's faltering -- and graying -- economy.
Mr. Pataki tells us that "today is clearly the dawn of a new economic paradigm." Another politico cursing at the darkness while searching for the morning's early light. The Governor is correct. In today's economy, that's just about all New Yorkers have to their names -- a pair of dimes!
Much of what our lame-duck Governor had to say in his State of the State speech was a rehash of what he said in similar addresses over the years. Empire Zones. Centers of Excellence. Tech Zones. All good ideas. Shame that most have never gone farther than the drawing board. Perhaps this year, they will. [More on Long Island's newest Empire Zone in a coming edition of this blog.]
Governor Pataki has come up with a new, tax-free, renewable form of transportation, and it is manufactured right here in New York. It is called walking. [The Legislature is working on ways to tax that, as we speak. Speech? Shhh. they'll tax that, too!]
"If there's one thing New Yorkers have proven over the last decade," the Governor told a joint session of the Legislature, "it is that we refuse to be defined by the challenges we face." Not that New Yorkers face the challenges, mind you. We simply refuse to be defined by them. In fact, on the whole, New Yorkers defy definition. We are, it would appear, content to blankly stare into the future, and say, "play it again, Sheldon." Same old words, sung to the tune of Onward Christian Soldiers. Why, it is enough to warm the cockles of Bill O'Reilly's little heart.
This spring, or so the Governor tells us, the Freedom Tower will begin to rise over lower Manhattan. That's fine -- as long as there are no exhibits that reference freedom, liberty, or expression of thought.
"Who would have thought that (their) fledgling nation would give rise to the greatest upsurge of freedom the world has ever known?," asked the Governor. Certainly not those who would spy on their own citizens, conduct warrantless searches, suspend habeas corpus, and ride roughshod over the Constitution. Yes, what this nation's founders said is true. Those who would give up certain liberties to gain a little security shall enjoy neither.
George Pataki asks us "Yorkers," as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan so eloquently referred to us inhabitants of the Empire State, to "heed destiny's clarion call." Visions of Beyonce aside, this is good advice, at least to those who hear the clarion (what the heck is a "clarion?") as a call, not to launch a campaign to bring to America what he has wrought on New York, but rather, as a call to rebuild that New York -- with a vision as broad as our State's mighty rivers, and a determination as high as that spire on the Freedom Tower. A vision and a determination as is embodied in our State's proud motto, Excelsior. Ever upward!