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Pataki Calls for More Tax Cuts, Medicaid Relief, Catching Criminals

Governor George Pataki

By Associated Press

Albany, NY – Governor Pataki is calling for more tax cuts, putting the brakes on rising Medicaid costs and boosting programs to catch criminals across New York State.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Joyce Kryszak's report on the governor's address.

In his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature Wednesday afternoon, the three-term Republican insisted that things are looking up despite serious fiscal problems and pockets of high unemployment.

In his message, Pataki maintained that New York has bounced back from fiscal woes before. When he took office in 1995, the state faced a $5 billion budget deficit. Pataki closed that gap even while delivering on a 1994 campaign pledge to cut taxes.

Part of the governor's plan for 2005 is to implement a "strike force" program aimed at tracking down the state's 100 most wanted felons, and to find ways to get Medicaid fiscal relief for county governments.

Some highlights of Governor Pataki's 2005 State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in Albany Wednesday:

-- Expansion of "Operation Impact," an initiative where state police aid local officers in high-crime areas outside of New York City. Pataki said the number of troopers assigned to the program would increase from 300 to 400.

--Creation of "anti-fugitive teams" of law enforcement officers to track down and arrest New York's 100 most dangerous fugitive felons. A "New York's 100 Most Wanted" list will be circulated among police agencies and mug shots of the most-wanted felons will be posted on a state Web site.

--Proposed a new checkoff on state income tax returns to help fund the memorial at the rebuilt World Trade Center for victims of the terrorist attack on September Eleventh, 2001.

--Announced that IBM, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung and other companies have committed to investing $2.7 billion in Hudson Valley high-tech research and development ventures, including the Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics in Albany.

--Proposed moving the planned phase-out of the 2003 increase in the state income tax from 2006 to 2005.

--Promised to include in the governor's executive budget details of a plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid and provide relief to taxpayers in New York City and the counties outside the city.

--Promised to advance a plan to improve high-needs school districts across the state, not just the New York City schools the state is under a court mandate to fund more equitably.

--Elimination or consolidation of commissions, task forces, boards and authorities that have been created over time and appointment of a commission to establish better "openness and accountability" in public authorities.