This was originally published by Plattsburgh Press-Republican on September 09, 2010.
EDITORIAL: Opportunity for revenue missed
We’re with Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) in finding Gov. Paterson’s veto of a bill to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 “mystifying.”
Paterson vetoed a bill last week to create a War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. The commission would have promoted local celebrations all over the state to recognize the crucial part New York played in the winning of the War of 1812. (Some historians argue we broke even, but the British were unable to re-establish a foothold in the United States — their aggression was repelled, which was the hoped-for consequence of the war.)
Brodsky called the governor’s choice not to sign the legislation “hurtful to taxpayers statewide, and especially upstate New Yorkers, who would have benefited economically from the increase in tourism this bill would provide.”
Specifically, the bill aimed to provide $2.5 million for all of the functions the commission envisioned performing, and that, apparently, was the open wound for Paterson.
In Paterson’s defense, he had tried all year to either come up with ways to save the state money — most of which the legislature rebuffed — or implored the legislators to divine their own proposals, which they, in effect, didn’t do, either. Now, here comes a bill asking that he approve more spending.
The Press-Republican has refused to take sides against money-saving measures, believing state government’s first priority had to be to find ways out of the disastrous economic slide New York has been forced to endure.
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that this bill would involve the expenditure of more money, in contravention of our own firm position, we see the War of 1812 Commission not as an expense but as an investment. Communities that had a role in the war would have been given the resources to capitalize on an important moment in history and attract tourists to their areas to be informed and entertained. The $2.5 million would have been returned many times over.
Moreover, it would have helped many communities that are among the most needy — including the North Country. New Orleans and Baltimore claim pre-eminence among American contributors to the War of 1812, but the Battle of Plattsburgh was certainly at least as important in turning back the British. The land-and-lake battle here was pivotal to the British deciding against further incursions into the young United States.
The $2.5 million is a tiny amount when compared with the state budget, but so are many other requests by a myriad of organizations. Generally, we applaud the governor for keeping his eye on the target of affordability.
We argue in favor of the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, not because the expenditure would be so insignificant but because the revenue would have been so significant.