David A. Paterson became New York's 55th Governor on March 17, 2008. In his first address as Governor, Paterson spoke about the challenges facing New York and his plans to build a better and brighter future for the citizens of this great state. Governor Paterson was ahead of the national curve in predicting and acting on the State's fiscal downturn. Despite the greatest economic crisis that New York State has ever faced, Governor Paterson enacted sweeping reforms on a wide range of issues facing New Yorkers.
Governor Paterson led the movement to create permanent reforms to the way health care is delivered in New York State to rationalize the State's Medicaid reimbursement system and provide increased investment in primary and preventative care. He overhauled the Rockefeller Drug Laws for the first time in more than 30 years and after a 9-year struggle to update the 1982 law governing bottle deposits, Governor Paterson guided the legislature to enact the Bigger Better Bottle Bill. In addition, as a result of the Governor's leadership, the Empire Zone Program is being reformed, the basic welfare grant was increased for the first time in two decades to help assist those struggling in poverty during a time of unprecedented economic turmoil and unemployment insurance benefits have been extended.
Governor Paterson successfully negotiated an MTA bailout plan allowing commuters to avoid painful service reductions and he introduced landmark civil rights legislation that will end legal discrimination against same-sex couples in New York.
In 1985, at the age of 31, Governor Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest Senator in Albany at the time. In 2003, he became the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history when he was elevated to Minority Leader of the Senate. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention and again in 2007 when he became New York's first African- American Lieutenant Governor. As Lieutenant Governor, he led the charge on several crucial issues for New York's future including achieving legislation for stem cell research, working to prevent domestic violence, putting forth a statewide renewable energy strategy and championing the expansion of minority and women owned businesses in New York.
Governor Paterson, who is legally blind, is nationally recognized as a leading advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a member of the American Foundation for the Blind and he serves on the Board of the Achilles Track Club. He has served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a Chairman of the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG).
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