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Since Sept. 11, life has changed. Remarkably, some of those changes have been strong positives, such as national unity, renewed patriotism and bipartisan cooperation and purpose in our federal government. Should we not expect the same renewed purpose from our state government?

Our upstate school systems desperately need help in meeting new higher standards in Regents requirements, at a time when testing scores are going down rather than up.

Local governments have made some significant headway in attracting a broader economic base of employment, which will be lost if services are reduced or eliminated and new or higher taxes are forced upon localities.

Subsequently, it makes no sense to continue with the state's baseline budget while teachers, firefighters, police officers and other governmental employees, services and programs are reduced or eliminated. President Bush pledged to make New York City whole again. The remainder of the state should not be put into a crisis mode awaiting the fulfillment of his word.

Historically, New York City, with its size and diversity, has always led the state in its ability to recover from economic crisis or other challenges that threaten its prosperity. Upstate New York does not have that history.

It is time for our state leaders to boldly act and turn away from partisan politics. The baseline budget will create turmoil and stagnation for upstate cities and communities. Additional state funding and bold new initiatives will put the state's budget in peril - gambling on new and increased revenues.

What is the choice? Certain stagnation or a chance on a New York economic miracle? Bold leadership or business as usual? I hope that we also have some heroes in Albany.



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