Governor David Patterson will deliver what should be his final State of the State address today. I'm sure he'll mention the fact we're carrying record budget shortfalls and he might even mention there's no real plan to deal with those shortfalls. But, what Patterson won't talk about is the real state of New York State.
New York State has become the tale of two states. There's happy, go lucky downstate, New York City and it's outlying areas, then there's the rest of the state. New York City drives this state in political policy and influence. What the city needs it gets, often at the cost of the rest of the state. New York City, though struggling slightly with the financial crisis, has money to burn and receives more than its share from the state. When mass transit was in trouble in the city, Albany was right there bailing them out. When budget time come, it's New York City representatives that are in the little room determining the state's spending with the governor.
Upstate is living a very different story. Buffalo the second largest city in the state is the third-poorest city in the nation. Rochester and Syracuse are following not far behind. Upstate story is one of economic losses over 20 years and many missed opportunities. At a time when unemployment in Western New York is bordering on 10%, the state is reducing the number of economic development zones and incentives here. In a final kick in the pants to upstate, tolls on Thruway just increased another 5%, which will continue to drive business out of the area. Upstate property owners are the highest taxed people in the country, doesn't that really say it all.
This state is run on the whims of New York City, while upstate representatives are forced to stand outside the capital wearing signs that read, "Will tax for food." We could talk about separation, which isn't a reality, but all we really need is an equal voice. The mantra of "taxation without representation," took hold and created this country nearly 250 years ago. Now upstate New Yorkers need their voices to be heard. That's the story the governor won't tell today.