Gov. Cuomo delivers State of the State address in Albany
ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his eighth State of the State address last week at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The stakes are higher this year for the Democratic governor in his second term—he’s up for re-election in November and may have presidential ambitions for 2020.
Cuomo has been praised for numerous progressive victories, including tuition-free college, the legalization of same-sex marriage, a higher minimum wage and paid family leave. The governor, however, has been criticized for his handling of both the New York City transit crisis and the sexual assault allegations against former senior aide William “Sam” Hoyt. Joseph Percoco, another longtime Cuomo aide, is facing corruption charges. The trial is scheduled to begin later this month.
The governor’s 90-minute speech last week tackled a number of topics, such as advancing the women’s agenda, keeping New York economically competitive, and the importance of early education.
One criminal justice proposal outlaws “sextortion” and non-consensual photography, also known as “revenge porn,” while another would combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Cuomo said last year “brought a long-overdue reckoning” when it came to sexual misconduct. He also proposed removing all firearms from those charged with domestic violence.
The governor didn’t shy away from either the GOP tax bill that was passed last month or the state’s $4 billion deficit. “We have federal and economic challenges never experienced before,” he said. “They threaten the essence of our country. Short term: a $4 billion deficit and $2 billion in cuts in federal aid. Even more challenging – long term – our federal government has hurt our state’s economic position: both nationally and internationally by taxing our state and local taxes, they made us less competitive and they are helping other states at our expense. They are continuing their divisive politics and evolving into even more divisive governing.”
The governor also said New York will sue over the recently enacted tax plan, calling it “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”
Cuomo’s “No Student Goes Hungry” is a five-point plan that requires schools to increase access to meals by offering breakfast after the bell and mandate food pantries on all SUNY and CUNY campuses. Another proposal would further the fight against exploding student loan debt by requiring colleges to provide simple truth in lending facts for students, increase consumer protection standards through the student loan industry, and prohibit state agencies from suspending the professional licenses of individuals behind or in default on their student loans.
One last proposal on the subject of education seeks to better prepare New Yorkers for the changing workforce.
“Our comprehensive economic development strategy has helped spur growth and job creation across this great state, but rapidly advancing technology and global competition demands that we prepare New Yorkers for the economy of tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “While we have made great strides, we must expand and overhaul our workforce training programs now in order to equip our workers with the necessary skills to succeed in the future.”
The governor also addressed several environmental proposals to protect New York’s water, one of which would fast-track a construction project to contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Bethpage manufacturing facilities in Oyster Bay.
Another proposal seeks to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the clean energy economy.
“New Yorkers know all too well the devastation caused by climate change, and in order to slow the effects of extreme weather and build our communities to be stronger and more resilient, we must make significant investments in renewable energy,” Cuomo said. “With this proposal, New York is taking bold action to fight climate change and protect our environment, while supporting and growing 21st-century jobs in these cutting-edge renewable industries.”
New York’s clean energy jobs and climate agenda would, among other things, solicit proposals for offshore wind power and invest at least $200 million in energy storage in the hopes of driving down costs.
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