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It was the worst of states. It was the worst of states.

   Two governors of two big states in big-time fiscal troubles delivered their State of the State messages Wednesday.
   The main difference between the speeches by New York Gov. David A. Paterson and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [other than the fact that I can only spell one of them without looking] is that Schwarzenegger is term-limited and knew the speech was his last such address, while Paterson is fighting for his political life and hopes his won't be.
    And there was much punditry across the land:
New York:
- The Buffalo News: Gov. David A. Paterson talked a good fight in his State of the State speech Poststateofstate Wednesday, challenging lawmakers, lobbyists and government as a whole to rise to the occasion of New York's financial crisis. Now we have to see how he actually throws a punch.
The New York Times: To his great credit, Mr. Paterson skipped the usual, and usually insincere, homages to his fellow politicians and went straight into an unsparing assessment of fiscal and political reality. He insisted that the Legislature attack economics and ethics at the same time.
- The New York Post: In his State of the State Address yesterday, Gov. Paterson proposed a plan to end political corruption in New York -- and lawmakers politely applauded. It was like the Mafia giving it up for a crackdown on organized crime.
- The New York Daily News: True to form, the Legislature is responding to Gov. Paterson's ethics reform proposals as if he were trying to infect lawmakers with swine flu.
- The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: For real success, Paterson must get New Yorkers solidly behind him. To make that happen, he needs to talk specifically about tax relief, which amazingly, he said very little about. Yes, the prospect of less revenue at a time when the state needs all the money it can get could be a daunting challenge.
- The Sacramento Bee: California's financial situation is as bleak as the recent weather  in Sacramento. Given the gloominess, it was oddly inspiring to watch Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger deliver a State of the Arnold State address Wednesday that was as bright as a Malibu morning.
- The San Jose Mercury News: Some of his specific proposals are flawed. But the areas he's picked — jobs, education and government reform — will help the state thrive as it emerges from this devastating recession.
- The San Francisco Chronicle: In his final State of the State address, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signaled his determination to leave his mark in Sacramento, even though the woeful economy and his often testy relationships with legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, have foiled many of his boldest attempts at change.
- The San Diego Union-Tribune really liked the governor's endorsement of a tax reform plan that would lower personal income taxes, eliminate corporate income taxes and the state's share of sales tax, and make it up with a European-style value added tax. Hmmmm.
- The Contra Costa Times doesn't bite: Unfortunately, the governor's proposals are overly optimistic and most have little chance of success. The tax reforms scare both businesses and labor unions, and slashing income taxes for the wealthy has little popular appeal.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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