Black Enterprise: In developing his economic stimulus plan, President Obama reached out to governors to gain their input. How will New York benefit from the plan?
David A. Paterson: New York is lucky enough to have 1,900 shovel-ready projects on road, bridge, highway repair, and transportation projects, as well as clean water and wastewater management programs. The stimulus package is one that puts people back to work and the infrastructure repair is a job creator: $1 billion of infrastructure repair creates 30,000 jobs. The more we put people to work, the more they start spending money again. And that hopefully inspires investment and opens the door for credit. Then you start getting your economy growing.
But how do you bring jobs back to the financial services sector?
I don’t think the financial services industry is going to recover from this recent period for a decade. The alternatives will be creating jobs in the clean renewable energy field at a time when we need to decrease our carbon emissions, particularly in automobiles, and trying to be at the epicenter of the information technology race with the other states. We should also try to use our colleges and universities so they can feed the state’s economic development practices with a lot of their research as they do in California and Massachusetts. Because 18% of the jobs in our state come from financial industries as opposed to an average of 2% nationally, if we don’t find other ways to put people to work right now then we are going to have a problem.
The loss of so many jobs must be affecting the state’s population.
I don’t have to tell you the disproportional numbers of who is getting laid off and who is getting most burned by this crisis. Particularly, African American families have been most impacted because a higher percentage of our net worth was expended on trying to maintain a home and trying to traverse the lines of unemployment. The middle class in the African American community is leaving New York in droves. There are 15% fewer African American families in New York City than there were a decade ago. Every year now in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, they have Buffalo Reunion Day, for all the people from Buffalo who have relocated to Atlanta. Now Buffalo reunions have sprouted up in Charlotte, North Carolina; Las Vegas; and Washington, D.C. They are moving for a better quality of life because New York is the highest-taxed state when you add in property taxes and personal income taxes.