George Pataki was born in Peekskill, New York. He is a 1967 graduate of Yale University and a 1970 graduate of Columbia Law School. Before being elected Governor, George Pataki served 10 years in the New York state Legislature and was Mayor of Peekskill. He was first elected Governor of New York in 1994, by defeating the Democratic incumbent, Mario Cuomo. He was reelected in 1998, defeating the Democratic candidate Peter Valonne 54%-33% and in 2002, receiving 49% of the vote while Democrat Carl McCall received 33% and independent candidate Tom Golisano received 14%..
The Governor and his wife, Elizabeth have four children.
During the first years of Pataki's administration, he began to institute the major spending cuts which he has advocated for most of his career. In 1999, however, Governor Pataki signed into law comprehensive health care legislation that provided health insurance coverage, under Family Health Plus, to lower income adults who do not have health insurance through their employers.
In 2003, Pataki made a controversial budget proposal in which he proposed several tax cuts, despite the state's rising deficits. He also made cuts in education and health care funding which, some say, may close emergency rooms and turn non-profit hospitals into for-profit. Pataki argued that new taxes would drive businesses out of state, reducing jobs, further compounding the deficit problem.