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Governor Pataki Vows to Cut Taxes, Lower Spending

Governor George Pataki

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Governor Pataki is vowing to give New Yorkers more tax cuts even as the state faces a fiscal crisis.

In his State of the State address to the Legislature Wednesday afternoon, Pataki said the state is facing "a very real fiscal crisis." He said his plans include closing the budget gap while not raising taxes.

Pataki unveiled a proposal to create a teacher training center at the H.H. Richardson complex adjacent to Buffalo State College.

The governor also said an agreement has been reached between the state and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for a new state park along Buffalo's outer-harbor.

Other highlights from the governor's address include:

--Designation of James Natoli, current director of state operations, to the new post of state Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response.

--Expand the Centers for Excellence program with new government-business-college high-tech research ventures in New York City and Westchester County.

--Promised that state agency spending will be down from the current year in the 2003-04 state budget he will propose on Jan. 29, with the exception of spending on public security. Indicated that Pataki is likely to propose less education spending in the next budget.

--Pledged to "avoid" layoffs of state workers and to work with their unions to further reduce the state workforce and secure new efficiences in government.

--Will propose reducing state debt service costs by refinancing some outstanding bonds to take advantage of current lower interest rates.

--Expand the state's DNA database to include all convicted criminals instead of violent felons, who are currently included under the law.

--Called again for reforming the harsh Rockefeller drug laws and for changing the way members of the state Board of Regents are selected to give the governor a say in the process.

--Pledged to give mayors in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany more direct control over schools in their cities.

--Will direct the state Public Service Commission to implement a program to guarantee that at least 25 percent of the electricity bought in New York within 10 years will be from renewable sources, such as wind or solar power.

--Has appointed former state Senator Ronald Stafford of Plattsburgh to work with officials in Quebec to develop a joint New York-Quebec bid for the Winter Olympics.

--Said a "committee of dedicated volunteers" would press for a memorial at the World Trade Center that would preserve the footprints of the shattered twin towers as a memorial to the victims of September 11th, 2001.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Mark Scott's report on Governor Pataki's State of the State address, including local reaction to it.