March 27, 2006

State budget, Appalachia question

This morning's Ithaca Journal is quiet on Dryden, but has two articles on state news relevant to our future. There's an article on the state legislature's effort to finish its version of the budget today, and a piece by Jay Gallagher on Spitzer's discussion of upstate NY's economy as Applachia.

I grew in Corning, well-aware that Steuben County was part of Appalachia, and both Tompkins and Cortland County are designated Appalachian by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The economic reasons for that designation are unfortunately alive and well:

The numbers supports Spitzer and Morelle. Last year, the number of jobs in West Virginia (1.4 percent) grew at seven times the rate they did upstate (0.2 percent), according to the state Business Council. In the 1990s, Appalachia's population grew 9 percent, compared to less than 1 percent upstate.

In 2002, the average annual personal income in Appalachia was $25,470, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the federal agency that promotes economic growth in the region. That was $1,390 more than the New York portion of Appalachia, state Business Council President Daniel Walsh said.

I find Governor Pataki's reponse to this devastatingly weak:

"Appalachia doesn't have Empire Zones. Appalachia doesn't have centers of excellence," Pataki said. While acknowledging there are "pockets" of poverty upstate, he said "we want to send a positive message" to outsiders."

Right. The economy's not doing too well, and we have real poverty issues here. Better not let anyone know about it or they'll think it's a bad neighborhood. I don't always agree with Jay Gallagher, but today, I'm happy to agree with this completely:

Spitzer's words, inflammatory to some, might have the effect of getting a debate going on what needs to happen for the upstate economy to revive. A debate on the most important issue facing upstate may break out, in all places, in the gubernatorial campaign.

(There's been a lot more discusion of this subject, not all of it friendly, on NYCO's Blog here and here.)

Posted by simon at March 27, 2006 9:05 AM in ,
Note on photos