Gov. David Paterson has vetoed legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, that would have established the New York State War of 1812 200th anniversary commemoration commission. The governor said the state’s ongoing fiscal problems—it currently has a $2.1 billion budget deficit— are the reason he vetoed the bill.
Based on the cost of similar commissions in the past, the War of 1812 commission would have cost about $2.25 million over five years, the governor’s veto said. The 24-member panel would have been charged with organizing a series of War of 1812 reenactment tourism events and promoting War of 1812 educational studies in elementary and secondary schools.
“Let it be understood that I fully support the objectives of this bill, and thank the sponsors for their efforts in drawing attention to this significant bicentenary. If we fail to recognize the sacrifices of those who fought to protect our freedom in the wars of the past, we dishonor not only those brave soldiers but also those who fight for the same ideals in the wars of the present … If we fail to teach our children the lessons of yesterday, we do not equip them to understand the world of today and to prepare for the world of tomorrow,” the governor wrote.
“But we do a great disservice to the people of this State if we fail to consider how we can meet these important obligations without exacerbating the current fiscal crisis,” he wrote.
New York’s War of 1812 historic sites already conduct educational programs and host reenactment events, Paterson said. Some are planning anniversary events, and more will no doubt do so as 2012 draws closer. The governor said he has asked his staff to work with relevant state agencies to develop a framework for coordinating commemorative activities.
The state has created similar commissions in the past, such as one to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s and Samuel de Champlain’s voyages, the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first steamship voyage on the Hudson River and the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War, which ran from 1754 to 1763.