2003-01-18 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey,

Democratic District Leader

Governor George Pataki gave his State of the State Address on Wednesday, January 8 in the Legislative Chambers in Albany.  I was invited to hear Pataki give his address.  In addition, I was invited to a reception given by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after Pataki's speech.

Governor George Pataki began by welcoming the new members of the State Legislature.  Assemblywoman Michele Titus from the 31st AD is beginning her first elected full term in office.  Michelle is a very knowledgeable, energetic and capable professional woman.  She has extensive experience in Albany, having worked for many years for the NY State Assembly.  During the campaign she articulated thoughtful and reasoned positions on the issues effecting our area.  She is a very valuable addition to the New York State Assembly.

Governor Pataki also paused for a moment of silence to remember those members of the Legislature who had passed away during the last year.  He mentioned Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino and Assemblywoman Pauline Rhodd-Cummings.  Pauline will be esteemed in our memory for her exquisite sense of style and her passion to serve her constituents.  One of her many contributions was her strong commitment to education.  It was her dream to have a college in our district.  We will continue to pursue her vision.  Education is an investment that pays dividends for the individual and for the community.

Governor George Pataki highlighted his vision of New York State.  He emphatically noted that he feels that the "heroic spirit that guided us through the (9/11) disaster will guide us to a brighter tomorrow."  He finds that New Yorkers have two choices - "either we control the crisis or the crises will control us."

Governor Pataki highlighted the need for quality education in our state.  A sound education influences many areas of the state.  A quality educational system produces a well-trained workforce, which in turn encourages firms to come to and stay in New York.  This improves our economy and our future economic growth.

Governor Pataki did note that by working together New York has enacted crucial school safety legislation, which is a national model.  New Yorkers also have access to more quality after school programs.  These initiatives offer extra learning opportunities in a safe and secure environment.  Governor Pataki also wants to expand the Centers for Excellence program with new government business - college high-tech research ventures in New York City and in Westchester County.

Governor Pataki noted that he is in favor of mayoral control of the state's large urban school districts.  He is backing Mayor Bloomberg's educational initiatives.  Pataki also pledged to give the mayors of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany greater control over the schools in their cities.

Even though we are facing a severe fiscal crisis Governor Pataki did not propose a cut in K-12 funding.  In fact he is looking at a three percent increase from the previous year.  $14.8 billion out of a state budget of $89.6 billion will go to the public schools.

The Governor will now spell out in detail the dollar amounts he proposes to spend over the next year for each category of the state budget.  It will be important to follow the budget process.  Write to our elected officials and speak out at community meetings.  Let your opinion be heard.

Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader met with Governor George Pataki and Senator Serf Maltese to discuss educational issues.

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