January 17, 2008

One New York

I'd been wondering what Governor Spitzer was going to do in his State of Upstate speech, and I'm still not sure what I think of the details.

I do, however, think the conclusion is something that everyone in New York State, Upstate or Downstate, should think hard about:

Now, ever since we announced we were doing this speech, some people have said to us: "You always talk about how we are One New York: one state, with one future. Doesn't a speech focusing only on one part of the State run counter to the very idea of One New York?"

It's a fair question. But the answer should be clear.

We are not giving this speech in spite of the fact that we're one state with one future.

We're giving this speech-and we've put the concerns of Upstate front and center on the agenda-precisely because we are one state with one future.

We are One New York, and we rise and fall together. When part of our State is struggling, it affects all of us. Because when a young family leaves the State, everyone has to pay for the cost of decline-the higher taxes, increased health care costs and shrinking national voice in Washington.

The truth is that we will never grow again; we will never prosper again; we will never become a beacon of hope and opportunity again if part of our state is thriving and another part is falling behind. So we must come together and channel all of the passion, energy and determination that is within us toward one goal: restoring growth and prosperity to Upstate New York.

We need only look to our own history for an example of success in a similar endeavor.

It was just a few short decades ago-in the late 1970s-when New York City was in crisis. Its social fabric was torn; its economy was in trouble; it was all but bankrupt; and it was desperate for help.

Yet when the people of New York City asked for help, the people of Upstate did not look the other way. Rather, you said to the people of New York City: "Your struggles are our struggles. Your future is our future. When there's a storm, everyone pitches in to help. So tell us what we can do." And working together, we did what many thought was impossible; we brought New York City back to life.

We are here today because we know it is time-indeed, it is long past time-to do the same for Upstate. To create jobs; to build livable, sustainable communities; and to attract and retain the next generation of New Yorkers who will call Upstate home. And just as we did back then, we will do it by working together. Because we must have your buy-in, your best efforts, your grit and your will if we are to succeed.

New York actually was a pretty coherent state, if a state with distinct regional opinions, from 1823 (opening of the Erie Canal) to about 1959 (opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway). Things have changed. The hard question I have is whether we as a state can step up - together - to the challenge Spitzer presents.

I don't have an answer to that.

Posted by simon at January 17, 2008 6:18 PM in ,
Note on photos