Governor Pataki – Lead, Follow or Get Out of The Way – New Yorker’s Deserve Better

With his eyes on a 2008 presidential bid, Governor George Pataki will do whatever it takes to prove to the rest of the country he is not a “lame-duck” governor. Unfortunately, New Yorkers are paying the price for his political maneuvers.

Mr. Pataki is now holding critical tax relief and vital health care funding hostage. This important funding and tax relief included in the budget was constructed through bipartisan cooperation among legislators who truly represent the people, putting money back in the pockets of working families throughout the state.

An April 2006 report from the state Comptroller found that New Yorkers pay the highest property taxes in the nation. In the absence of gubernatorial leadership, the Legislature has provided vital tax relief to soften the blow of New Yorkers’ tax bills.

The governor’s fiscal conservative act rings hollow to those who’ve seen him in self-promotional, taxpayer-funded television commercials. These campaign-style New York tourism ads are running up and down the eastern seaboard, particularly in the media market Boston shares with New Hampshire – one of the first battleground states of the presidential primary.

Mr. Pataki has turned his back on the people he was elected to lead. When the Legislature passed a budget that provided tax relief, invested in education and protected quality, affordable health care the governor vetoed it. Now, this so-called conservative’s refusal to accept the Legislature’s overrides will likely cost New Yorkers even more in litigation and valuable taxpayer dollars.

Is the governor interested in negotiating a compromise? Mr. Pataki’s schedule reveals his priorities. In the last two months his travels include Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and the Kentucky Derby. Between April 28 and May 6, he spent just two days in New York, and the other eight in Kentucky, Delaware, Washington, D.C. and California. He isn’t fooling New Yorker’s – his focus is on national politics, not the people he was elected to represent.

When the governor took office he made a commitment to the people of New York. Unfortunately his actions this past year tells us that he cares more about his own political ambition then the needs of New Yorker’s.

If he wants to continue his quest for the White House that is his business, but he should step up for New Yorker’s now or follow the other 212 elected officials in the Assembly and Senate in providing the leadership New Yorkers need and deserve.