The background to the 2010 State of the State is a multi-billion dollar state deficit that will grow to a $17 billion deficit when the federal stimulus money runs out in FY 2011-12. In his response to these hostile challenges Governor David Paterson offered a fresh start in his speech.
The Governor admitted that something – if not everything – had to change if New York were to avoid descent into bankruptcy. In his State of the State address the Governor offered an overhaul of state finances that would include significant budget cuts, a dramatic retooling of government practices and ethics that would include term limits, and a vision to reignite the “Innovation Economy” in New York. This is a difficult agenda that is already being met with reticence from the legislature.
A list of all initiatives referenced in the State of the State is available online.
Of particular interest to academic and research libraries may be some of the ideas contained in the Governor’s economic development proposals. While it is difficult to predict specifics in advance of the release of the Executive Budget proposal (January 18, 2010), there were encouraging moments during the speech. When Paterson discussed the importance of an innovation infrastructure, the role of colleges and universities, and information age economic growth, many heard an argument in favor of the Academic Research Information Access (ARIA) act.
The Excelsior Jobs program, as a described successor to the Empire Zone program, may provide one opportunity for ARIA to seek enactment. So too the Governor’s call to include small business in research and development entrepreneurial incentives.
The legislative session has begun. With no money in the bank, a closely divided Senate, a unpopular Governor placing blame on an even less popular legislature, and looming elections, 2010 will be an unusually difficult year. May analysts predict that gridlock and in-fighting will be the hallmarks of the session. Only time will tell.
NYSHEI, like every other group in the state, will face formidable challenges. Creativity and hardwork will be needed as never before, but may still not be enough to achieve progress. Rather, nearly every interest in the state will need to muster all their resources to minimize losses rather than realize gains.