Spitzer's State of the State

The AP has a huge chunk of Eliot Spitzer’s State of the State address as prepared for delivery.

After the jump.

– Azi Paybarah

Prepared text of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s State of the State address on Wednesday, as released by Spitzer’s office:

To my colleagues and partners in government Speaker Silver, Majority Leader Bruno, Leader Smith, Leader Tedisco and distinguished members of the Legislature, it is an honor to stand before you today to deliver my first Annual Message.
To Chief Judge Kaye and members of the Court of Appeals, thank you for joining us.
To all of our partners outside of state government including the members of our Congressional delegation and all the mayors and other elected officials who are with us today, thank you for being here.
And a special welcome to Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. We are honored by your presence and humbled as we stand on the shoulders of all who have come before us.
To my parents, my wife Silda, and my daughters Elyssa, Jenna and Sarabeth, thank you for your continued love and support.
And, of course, to my fellow New Yorkers:
Let us begin by recognizing all of the soldiers from New York who are serving in the U.S. armed forces around the world.
Here with us today are two soldiers from the New York National Guardwho recently returned from Iraq: CaptainDenise Sherman of Waterford, who served with the 206th Corps Support Battalion from Brooklyn, and Staff Sergeant David Arroyo of Cohoes, whoservedwith the 642nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division based out of Troy.
We must also acknowledge those who protect us here at home. The New Year begins with sadness for our State Trooper family. We lost two troopers in the past year Craig Todeschini and Joseph Longobardo. Theirwives, Kristi and Teri, are with us today as we honor their memories. Your husbands and the soldiers next to you represent the very best New York has to offer. On behalf of all New Yorkers, thank you for your sacrifice and your service.
Today marks the next step in our journey. It is not a journey of party or politics or any one politician, but a journey of New Yorkers in need of hope and in search of change to bring back the greatness New York once defined.
I know that all of us in this chamber are dedicated to this cause, and I look forward to working with you, along with our partners in Congress and at the local level, to deliver on that promise.
Indeed, the tide is already starting to turn. New Yorkers have resoundingly rejected the status quo, the politics of partisanship and polarizing ideology. New Yorkers have embraced change the idea that on Day One of this new administration, those of us in this chamber would come together to face our challenges as one.
In the past month, I have been humbled by the support and encouragement I have received from both Republicans and Democrats in this Legislature. I know this can be the start of an historic bipartisan partnership.
And just two days ago, in my first action as Governor, we implemented a series of self-imposed ethics, campaign finance and lobbying reforms to send a message to all that change is here and it starts with each of us.
Today I will outline the change we must seek together if we are to restore New York as a beacon of hope and opportunity.
I report to you that the condition of many New Yorkers is superb, but whole communities have been left behind; that our future is bright, but that our government is in disrepair.
As the world has transformed and moved forward, it is only Albany that has stood still.
As the economy becomes global, and reveals our competitive disadvantages, we must reduce the burdensome cost structures that have driven businesses out of our state.
As human capital emerges as the fulcrum of job creation, we must provide our schools with the necessary investment, reform and accountability to adapt to this new paradigm.
As a technological revolution transforms the health care industry, we must rethink and restructure our delivery system to provide care at a price we can afford.
And because we cannot make any of these changes without making hard choices, now is the time to rein in spending and exhibit fiscal restraint, so we can afford these long-term investments for our future.
That is why New Yorkers have demanded change. They have challenged us to stop standing still and start confronting the status quo.
Perhaps most of all, they have challenged us to change the way we work here in Albany. If we don’t manage to find consensus, we will not be able to adapt to the changing world around us. We will continue to stand still as other states and other countries pass us by.
No single person is responsible for this situation, but we are all responsible for changing it. So let us choose the path New Yorkers have chosen for us the one of pragmatic politics instead of partisan politics, results instead of empty press releases, action instead of gridlock.
Many entrenched interests will try to block this new path in order to maintain the status quo that has worked so well for them. They will play on our fears and offer us false choices and easy ways out. They will seek to divide us along party, geographic, racial and economic lines, pitting each of us against the other. But it’s the easy way out that has gotten us to this point in the first place, and it is division that has kept us from moving forward.
The future of New York does not belong to the army of the status quo. The future belongs to those who seek change those who are not satisfied with an education system that leaves too many behind; or a health care system that leaves 2.8 million New Yorkers uninsured; or an economy that works for some, but not for many.
It is tempting and even natural for us to focus on our own problems and our own challenges. But the truth is, we rise and fall together.
Because when our business climate is uncompetitive, that affects not only the business owner, it affects the worker who cant find a good-paying job. When a worker is injured on the job and can’t get the necessary care to get back to work, that affects not only the worker, it affects the business owner who loses her skilled work force. And when 2.8 million New Yorkers can’t afford health insurance, that affects not only them and their families, it affects everyone, because we all end up paying for their care with higher taxes.
The truth is, we all have separate problems and face different challenges, but we are all bound together by our collective need for change.
Our job is to heed the voices for change and govern on the principle of One New York, a type of politics and a series of policies based on the idea that our common interest serves our individual interests, that we rise and fall together as one people, One New York.
As I often say, you can’t change the world by whispering. New Yorkers didn’t whisper for change on Election Day; they shouted for it. And today is when we all come together in this chamber and respond. Our first objective is to reform our government not merely for the sake of reform, but because if our state is to prosper again, we need a government that is a catalyst for change instead of an impediment.
Our second objective is to revitalize our economy and lead New York into a new era of opportunity and prosperity.
Every policy, every action and every decision we make must further these objectives. And they must be guided by the values that make us New Yorkers.
GOVERNMENT REFORM
First, we must work together to reform state government.
In order to change the status quo, we must reform government to be more responsive to change.
Reform must target two areas: First, we must enact comprehensive ethics reforms. Second, we must enact structural reforms to transform our government from one that is designed to resist change to one that is designed to embrace it.
Ethics Reform
We gather here today with the front-page stories of scandal fresh in our minds and the minds of all New Yorkers. We are in danger of losing the confidence of those who elected us. To restore their confidence, we must overhaul our campaign finance, lobbying and election laws.
Campaign Finance Reform
To neutralize the army of special interests, we must disarm it. In the coming weeks, we will submit a reform package to replace the weakest campaign finance laws in the nation with the strongest.
Our package will lower contribution limits dramatically, close the loopholes that allow special interests to circumvent these limits, and sharply reduce contributions from lobbyists and companies that do business with the state.
But reform will not be complete if we simply address the supply of contributions. We must also address the demand. Full public financing must be the ultimate goal of our reform effort. By cutting off the demand for private money, we will cut off the special-interest influence that comes with it.
Lobbying Reform
We also must address lobbying reform to restore the publics faith in government decision-making. In the coming weeks, we will propose legislation that fully bans gifts to elected officials and strengthens the “revolving door” law, which still allowslegislative employees to immediately lobby their former colleagues.
Election Reform
Still, we must do more. We will submit legislation that reforms our elections specifically legislation that establishes an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission. Until this happens, I will veto any proposal that reflects partisan gerrymandering. More competitive elections will lead to a more responsive government.
Structural Reform
In addition to ethics reform, we must work together to implement structural reform at every level of government to make it more flexible and adaptive to change.
Judicial Reform
First, we must reform our states sprawling judicial system. New York has the most complex and costly court system in the country, a system that too often fails to provide justice while imposing an undue burden on taxpayers. Chief Judge Kaye has forged consensus within the legal community for how we must fairly administer justice. Now is the time to act.
In the coming weeks, I will submit a Constitutional amendment that incorporates Judge Kaye’s recommendations to consolidate and integrate our balkanized courts.
I will also submit a second constitutional amendment that will take the politics out of the selection of judges and implement a merit appointment process.
Public Authorities Reform
Second, we must continue to reform our state’s public authorities. Originally created to be lean, anti-bureaucratic machines, they have become patronage dumping grounds, adding yet another costly bureaucracy, entrenched in the status quo and insulated from accountability.
We will build on the Legislatures recent reform effort and submit legislation to strengthen transparency and accountability. We will promptly review each of the authorities and develop with a plan to consolidate and eliminate those authorities that have outlived their usefulness. And we will staff our authorities with experts picked for what they know, not whom they know.
Local Government Reform
Third, we must consolidate New York’s multiple layers of local government those 4,200 taxing jurisdictions that cost taxpayers millions each year in duplicative services and stand as yet another impediment to change. I will appoint a Commission on Local Government Efficiency to report back with a specific plan of action. Together, we must summon the political will to face the reality that 4,200 taxing jurisdictions are simply too many.
Budget Reform
Fourth, we must fix our unwieldy budget-making process. We will work with you on a reform package based on three principles: timeliness, transparency and fiscal responsibility.
To increase timeliness, we must accelerate revenue forecasting, reduce the Governor’s 30-day amendment period and require conference committees to meet as early as possible.
To increase transparency, we will move forward as the leaders have already agreed to eliminate lump-sum member items, and require that all member-item spending be specifically itemized in the budget, so this spending can be clearly defined, analyzed and transparent to the public.
To increase fiscal responsibility, we must require that the enacted budget be balanced, and we must require the Legislature to report on the financial impact of any changes made to the Executive Budget.
I am also sensitive to the important balance of power between the Executive and the Legislature in the budget-making process. I look forward to working with you to maintain appropriate legislative discretion.
Together, these ethics and structural reforms will transform a government that is structurally oriented to resist change into one that is oriented to embrace it.