ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. David Paterson used his State of the State address Wednesday to draw a blueprint for turning New York into a national model of economic strength and trust in government — both of which have been worn down by fiscal and ethical crises.
In a speech critical to improving his standing in the polls, the Democrat called for curbing the state’s notorious overspending and for creating jobs, in part by renewing New York’s once mighty manufacturing sector. Among his proposals is the acquisition and renewal of abandoned factories for sale back to the private sector.
Paterson said he would introduce ethics legislation to limit the influence of special interests that have helped drive more spending than New Yorkers can afford. He also wants a new independent agency to enforce ethics laws. And he proposed term limits for elected officials as well as requiring them to disclose their outside business ties.
“Outside influences and inside decay have bred cynicism and scorn in the people we represent,” the governor said, adding that he expected pushback against his proposals. “Prosperity hides all manner of sin, but no longer.”
“The moneyed interests, many of them here today as guests, have got to understand their days of influence in this Capitol are numbered. They’ve demanded special treatment without regard for others. ... There is no moral high ground in trampling on others to get there.”
In addressing ongoing budget deficits, Paterson proposed merging state agencies and public tracking of agency performance. He asked Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch to take the lead on a four-year recovery plan, proposed a constitutional spending cap and promised to use his executive authority to veto or delay spending to keep the government solvent.
“I will not write bad checks and we will not mortgage our children’s future,” Paterson said.
Paterson said ethics reform and lower spending to keep property taxes down were key to attracting business to New York. State initiatives will focus on clean energy, broadband access and information systems and biotechnology, with a planned new fund for entrepreneurs and research and development tax credits meant to encourage sharing information between research institutions and investors.
For the state’s once booming manufacturing sector, Paterson proposed tax credits as well as buying, retrofitting and reselling abandoned factory sites. He said the state also has large, available stocks of dormant housing that he wants to see developed, starting with Buffalo, which has 23,000 vacant units.