This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Good to join you again, Wolf. What’s the story? You know what’s going, and you can tell us. Is Hillary Clinton going to be the next Secretary of State? I haven’t the slightest idea. I came on to talk about budget deficits, but what I would say is that if it came to pass, New York’s loss would be America’s gain, which is how we felt when Hillary Clinton ran for president. But no one’s spoken to me and I’m not going to speculate on the speculation. So she hasn’t mentioned anything to you yet about the possibility of giving up her senate seat, because I take it you would have tremendous authority, responsibility in naming her successor? I don’t have tremendous authority in many areas right now, particularly in terms of our fiscal deficit, but I do have the authority to appoint a new senator if either of the senators of New York were to leave office. But nobody’s had that conversation with you yet, is that right? No they probably know how busy I am and don’t want to disturb me. You’ve got a lot going on right now. I want you to listen, I spoke earlier in the week with Governor Sarah Palin, your Republican colleague from Alaska, and we spoke about the fact that an African-American is about to be the next President of the United States, and I asked her whether or not that should eliminate the need for affirmative action in the country, and listen to what she told me: “With the intent of treating everybody equally, and providing equal opportunity in the workplace and in education, there are some specific policies that I’m sure we can move beyond.” What do you think? Does this eliminate the need for affirmative action in our country? Well I appreciate that Governor Palin recognized that not in all cases have we moved beyond, and I think that that’s what Senator Obama’s election in some ways symbolizes. That anybody that doesn’t think that we’ve gone a long way towards racial equity in this society is a charlatan, but anyone that thinks that we have solved all the problems, not only racially, but in terms of national origin and women, who are 51.8% of the population and don’t get to the areas that I think their talents take them, shows that we still have some distance to go.
Let me pick your brain for a second. How does it feel to you, you originally supported Hillary Clinton, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, but you later supported Barack Obama very enthusiastically. What does it mean to you that the next commander-in-chief is going to be an African-American? Well I think just as people turn on television and they might watch a program in which they were in the audience and they’re looking around for themself, or when they pass around pictures to children after they take their school photos every year, I think that this is something that emerging groups love to see, is being able to find someone who they relate to in government and I think that’s what President Obama does. But what makes Barack Obama almost transition above race and ethnicity itself is the fact that there’s so many white Americans who seem so happy that our country has reached a point now where we can elect an African-American, or a woman, or an Hispanic president, and I think that’s what was so stunning and amazing about what’s gone on in the last 10 days. Let’s talk about my home state of New York and the economic situation, because you’ve come up with a new approach, some would call it almost a revolutionary approach, to deal with the enormous fiscal and economic problems facing the people of New York right now. Very briefly, tell us what you’re doing because it potentially could be a model for other states. Well we are going to go back into session, and other states, Arizona under Governor Napolitano and Kentucky under Governor Beshear, they’re going back in to close their budgets down, and the chief financial officer of Florida thinks that their economy has turned so far that they’re gonna have to go back in, and California’s coming back again, but in New York we are moving the date of our budget submission up by six weeks, to December 16, hoping that if we can close our budget earlier, and exact many spending reductions, that that would transform into getting the greater bang for our buck in reduced reductions next year. And obviously, education and healthcare comprise over 52% of our general fund, the fund that we can cut the budget from. We have a $14 billion deficit over the next two years, out of $56-60 billion that we can cut, so we have severe problems, but we think the sooner we address them, the stronger and faster we can recover from them. Is New York State, like some other states out there, going to be appealing to the federal government for a massive financial bailout? Well we don’t want just money from the federal government. We think that if the government gave us the resources to inject into infrastructure repair, which this country hasn’t addressed in a decade, we have about 95 shovel-ready projects that we may not be able to afford to complete otherwise. Remember, New York gets back $86.9 billion less than we pay in taxes, and we have a lot of states right now, in fact Governor Palin’s state has the highest per capita return for their taxes. They get back a whole lot more than they give. But even states like South Carolina with a $16.9 billion return more than they pay in taxes, they are going back in because they have a $500 million budget deficit they have to close.
So you’ve got a lot of work coming up, but you’re basically upbeat, correct me if I’m wrong, Governor, that the folks in New York State are going to get through this economic crisis right now without too much turmoil. Well it’s very hard for a lot of our legislative leaders, and also our advocates, our unions, people in the fields that are going to have their growth reduced, to accept it. It’s very hard. I don’t think they fully appreciate the seriousness of our budget deficit. Our national deficit is a trillion dollars, and what we’ve got to recognize is this is the worst downturn in our economy since the Great Depression, and if we want to avoid going through what California went through, we’ve got to get back to Albany and get to work. You’ve got a lot of folks counting on you and your colleagues, Governor, thanks very much for coming in. Good luck. Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.