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High Expectations Plus Major Challenges For NY’s New Governor

March 13, 2008

Albany, NY - New York gets a new governor Monday, and he'll have little time for on-the-job training. David Paterson will face a budget with a $4 billion hole in it. Rob Moore with Environmental Advocates of New York says as Lieutenant Governor, Paterson was the point man on "green" issues like renewable energy - but he'll face the daunting task of finding room in the budget to support that, as well as other issues about which he is concerned.

"He's got a state budget on which negotiations in earnest begin on Monday, his first day, so he doesn't have the luxury of a transition period. We'll see how he's able to adjust on the fly, and how he's going to be able to prioritize his interests."

In addition to taking the lead on the environment during his tenure in the "Number Two" job, Paterson also handled a diverse number of issues from stem cell research to curbing domestic violence.

At the Center for Independence of the Disabled, Susan Dooha says the new governor has a real personal awareness of the challenges that three million New Yorkers face because of disabilities.

"New Yorkers are going to have an opportunity to learn more about what it's like to live with a disability. David Paterson is legally blind. He's able to read some passages, but he is able to only see things very close up. Nonetheless, he's a man of incredible vision."

According to Lisa Tyson, with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, where Eliot Spitzer was known for his adversarial tone, Paterson has a lot of constructive experience negotiating with lawmakers.

"He has a wonderful history on clean money, clean elections reform, an advocate for the Rockefeller drug laws changes, and we're really hoping that when it comes to taxes, that's he's going to support a real progressive tax system in New York State, which we don't currently have."

Paterson is slated to take the oath of office and become the 55th Governor of New York on Monday.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY