After a disastrous first year beset by scandal and poor decision-making, Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday made a big step toward a turnaround in his second-year state of the state speech.

He’s worked to spread health-insurance coverage, boost state funding for SUNY and upstate development, but he’s been a late-comer to action on the property-tax issue.

With New York one of the most highly taxed states in the nation, the pressure has been on to do something.

While the state increased aid to schools last year as a step toward easing the property-tax burden, schools turned around and increased spending an average 7 percent. That obviously angered Spitzer and lured him to consider a spending cap to go with the property-tax cuts.

On Wednesday, he called not only for the cap on school property taxes pushed by state lawmakers, but a bipartisan commission to consider capping growth in local school spending.

The commission, with the power to subpoena records and compel testimony, would examine the state’s unfunded mandates, find ways to cut costs in school instruction, ferret out wasted spending and make tax relief more effective for middle-class families.

The spending cap is not going to be a popular idea with school interests, but E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy, part of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute, said, “if the governor is serious, it could be a turning point for heavily burdened New York property owners.”

But just as important on Wednesday was the conciliatory tone Spitzer set after several months of cold war with the Legislature. The governor obviously realized it was time to start over and pretend his first year didn’t really happen.

We, too, hope the new year is just that in Albany.

‘Goose’ a good addition to Hall

One of the many charms about baseball is “The Hot Stove League.”

No one actually plays any games in that league. Its name comes from bygone years when fans presumably would gather around a hot stove during the winter months to talk about baseball.

So far this year, most of the talk has been elicited by the George Mitchell Report about steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing substances.

Is Roger Clemens lying when he denies steroid use, and if he is, should he still be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in five years?

It was a blessed relief when fans got to talk about something else Tuesday.

Former Yankees relief pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage was elected by the baseball writers for induction into the Hall of Fame this summer.

It took nine years on the ballot for Gossage to gain entrance, but there is little doubt that he is deserving of the honor.

Just as importantly for our area’s economy, there is little doubt that thousands of Yankees fans will journey to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony in July.

We probably won’t see the crowds that 2007 honorees Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn drew, but it should still “goose” up local tourism a great deal.

Congratulations, Mr. Gossage.

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