When New York State Governor Richard Paterson gave his State of the State address we were very pleased at his candor, humor and the wisdom of his proposals. What was interesting is that we all find different elements to focus on in speeches. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said, "Governor Paterson has showed us the kind of courage that will be necessary if New York is going to survive the darkest economic crisis since the Great Depression. He told the truth about the State's fiscal health. The question now is: Was Albany listening?

"It was brutally honest but at the same time, optimistic, innovative and uplifting.

"I thank the Governor for his leadership during this difficult time and am encouraged by his continued commitment to the findings of the State Commission on Property Tax Relief that I chaired. His specific pledge to fight for the property tax cap was especially encouraging.

"Homeowners have been burdened by ever-increasing property taxes that are among the highest in America. People across the state are being forced out of their homes because they can no longer afford to pay their escalating property taxes. The Governor agrees that something must be done now and New York is fortunate to have a governor who understands this immediate need. I am hopeful too that he will provide relief to the state's local governments rather than pass down increased state mandates," said the Democrat, focusing in on the important issue of capping property taxes.

Assemblyman Robert Walker took a different tack. He said, "On behalf of the hurting families throughout Nassau County, Long Island and New York State, we legislators must start work immediately on preparing and finalizing New York's 2009-10 budget. The governor has given us a blueprint of where he believes our priorities should be but I believe there is much room for improvement.

"During this economic crisis, it is unconscionable to ask New York families to tighten their belts further while state spending increases unabated. New York State must immediately begin to live within its means, just as all families and businesses have been forced to do. We cannot tax the residents of this great state in order to balance the state budget. Balancing the budget can only be done through reductions in spending and making government work more efficiently with fewer resources.

"There is no doubt that this is a troubling time for all New Yorkers, yet I am optimistic that we legislators will roll up our sleeves with the governor and produce a budget which is economically beneficial, sustainable and most importantly, balanced," said the Republican.

We on the other hand went away impressed with a part of the speech Governor Paterson did not include with his printed document. He gave an aside that we were pleased about. He said while in Germany, visiting the Army hospital where our veterans are being cared for, he met a general who said he had been a victim of Post Traumatic Stress and had gone for treatment of the disorder. That was very good to hear. His talking about the need to acknowledge mental stress and that it can be reduced with professional care was important to get more people willing to seek help. It is also important to the cause of those working to help veterans.

We also received an email from Craig Norhacker, CPA and the executive director of Vets-Help.org that we have written about. They are trying to help veterans and disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He said, "General Shinseki, the new cabinet VA appointee by President-elect Obama, is adopting our program when confirmed. Shaun Donovan, the cabinet HUD appointee, has also asked to speak with us. We are looking forward to an exciting new year!"

That was good news to us, that people will be focusing on helping veterans who are coming home with both physical and mental problems to solve.

It is so important that in the midst of what is happening, there is a lot for all of us to focus on. Most of all, there is optimism charging across the land. The value of that alone can make a wonderful difference in this county. We are looking forward to 2009, said the Independent voter/optimist.

We are particularly glad 2008 is over! - DFK

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