With 24 hours to go until Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers his first State of the State Address, you will hear many predictions about what he will say and hear details (leaked or otherwise) about what is in his speech.
But here in upstate, there has long been economic issues and governors have faced a tough job of addressing those problems. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced a "State of Upstate" address that lasted one year (he delivered that address in Jan. 2008 and, two months later, he resigned) and outlined a plan for revitalizing upstate. That plan was not carried out when Governor David Paterson took office and the emphasis on upstate, one could argue, decreased.
When Cuomo traveled to Auburn in August, I asked him for his specific plan for energizing the upstate economy. This was his full answer at the time:
"I spent eight years in Washington at Housing and Urban Development. Housing and Urban Development was, basically, the nation's economic development agency. So I worked on economic development strategies. I have experience in that area. I also did a lot of economic development work in upstate New York during that time.
First, we have to reduce the barriers. You have to reduce the obstacles to growth. And in the state of New York, one of the obstacles is the taxes and the growing taxes, property taxes and state income taxes. That's why we are working so hard for a property tax cap and a state spending cap so you can say to businesses, 'I understand. I get it. You're afraid of taxes in New York. We understand and are capping the tax.' You have to be able to say that. Step one.
Step two needs stimulative programs. The way that works, in my opinion, is to organize by region across the state and use government as a facilitator to bring in the private sector businesses to come up with an economic development strategy for that region.
There is no one plan for upstate New York. By the way, there is no upstate New York. You have different regions. You have western New York. You have central New York. You have to understand those particular regions and the needs of those regions and have a strategy region-by-region."
Some of what Cuomo is proposing based on items that have leaked out will have statewide ramifications. For example, a property tax cap. But how he deals with upstate specifically will be something to keep an eye on.
He already has shown a willingness to handle upstate issues with his choice of lieutenant governor, former Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy. That pick, at least in upstate circles, was seen as a sign that Cuomo was committed to upstate in a state government largely controlled by downstate and New York City.
What he told me in August was interesting. Will there be region-by-region plans for how to deal with the struggling economy upstate? Will there be any plan at all announced Wednesday, or will it be constructed over time?
I will be keeping an eye on this and other parts of his address during my live blog beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday.