The Governor’s State of the State Speech – And Upstate Reaction To It

January 13, 2016
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ALBANY, NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State speech on Wednesday afternoon. Below are the key points, covered by the governor in his speech:
 
Keep State Spending Under Two Percent
$300 Million for Small Business Tax Cut
Encourage Municipal Consolidation
Continuing Successful Investments
Continuing Medicaid Relief for Local Governments
Extend NYSUNY 2020 and NYCUNY 2020
End the Gap Elimination Adjustment
Establish a $100 Million Community School Fund
Extend Mayoral Control in New York City
Expand Pre-Kindergarten for Three Year Olds
Restoring the Trust in Education: The Common Core Task Force
Pass $200 Supplies Credit for Teachers
Facilitate a Coal Free New York By 2020
Consolidate the Office of Counter Terrorism with the State Police
Close the Terror Gap
Allocate More Than $20 Billion for Massive Expansion of Housing and Homelessness Plan
Raise the Minimum Wage
Provide Paid Family Leave for New York Workers
Increase Opportunity for MWBEs
Continue to Lead on Criminal Justice and Re-Entry
Establish the Office of an Independent Special Counsel
Protect Immigrant Crime Victims through Increased Access to U-Visas
Certify New York State Foods
Increase Awareness and Screening for Breast and Prostate Cancer
Increase Access to Breast Cancer Screening
Supporting Cancer Research
Close the LLC Loophole and Increase Campaign Disclosure
Limit Outside Income for Legislators
Adopt a Voluntary Public Campaign Financing System
Enact Other Campaign Finance Reforms
Promote Transparency through New Reforms to FOIL
Require Legislators Convicted of Corruption to Forfeit Pensions
Increase JCOPE Transparency and Enforcement and Strengthen Ethical Requirements for Lobbyists
Convene a Constitutional Commission
Early Voting in 139 Locations
Automatic Voter Registration
Embrace Good Government and Transparency
Reform Lobbying Laws
 
REACTIONS FROM UPSTATE LAWMAKERS:
 
Senator Cathy Young’s Video Message:

 
Assemblyman Bill Nojay:
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“Today’s proposals are a classic display of the governor’s refusal to implement policies that would make New York State budget solvent. Each of his programs, past and present, costs hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars without any certainty or proven record that they might work, and no apparent plan to pay for them. And when they fail, New Yorkers are slapped with rising costs or are forced to move out of state.
 
“New York is the worst state in the country to start a business. Gov. Cuomo’s proposals today for a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and $100 billion in new spending will guarantee New York’s economy continues its tailspin. How many more companies need to shut their doors, how many more thousands of New Yorkers need to lose their jobs, and how many more studies have to show New York as the worst place in the country to do business before Andrew Cuomo comes to his senses about playing Santa Claus to every political group that comes along?”
 
“The governor talks a lot about ethics reform, but his proposal to limit outside income of legislators will only guarantee that a permanent political class is allowed to hold office in New York State. That’s not reform, it’s a guarantee of permanent corruption and insider deals. When you prohibit outsiders from entering the room, it ensures the room is filled with insiders doing what politicians do best – making deals costing taxpayers money and jobs.”
 
Senator Tom O’Mara:
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State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) today delivered a wait-and-see reaction to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2016-2017 state budget until the Legislature’s fiscal committees have had the opportunity to fully examine the governor’s proposed fiscal plan in detail.
 
O’Mara, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “It’s an ambitious and a necessary agenda in a number of fundamental areas, including schools, agriculture-based industries, Upstate jobs and infrastructure, and public safety. But the governor is proposing billions upon billions of dollars of new spending on everything from A to Z. How are we going to pay for it all? I’m concerned about the state’s ability in the current economy to afford it all or to go deeper into debt while, at the same time, imposing added costs on employers like a $15-an-hour minimum wage on small businesses, farmers, schools and others in already struggling regions like the Southern Tier. I’ve been saying it and I’ll keep on saying that New York government needs to stay focused on taking action after action to jump-start Upstate manufacturing job growth and eliminate the crushing burdens of unfunded state mandates, overregulation and high taxes. It begins and ends with addressing these priorities. At this point, I just don’t know if the governor’s blueprint is going aggressively enough after the root causes of Upstate’s decline, which means high taxes, overregulation and unfunded state mandates that keep local property taxes high. I was hoping to hear more of a focus on these broad-based economic and fiscal priorities for our local communities, local economies and local taxpayers.”
 
O’Mara said that he would keep working with his legislative colleagues across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to keep attention focused on unfunded state mandates, job-killing state regulations and a state tax burden that devastates family budgets and keeps New York’s business climate one of the worst in the nation.
 
In Albany today, Cuomo delivered his sixth State of the State message to the Legislature and, at the same time, proposed a $144-billion spending plan for 2016-17, including a nearly $1-billion increase in aid to public school districts statewide.
 
O’Mara said that the next step in this year’s budget adoption process is for state legislators, local leaders and the public to begin analyzing the details of the new Cuomo plan and assessing its impact on specific programs and services. O’Mara and his Senate Republican colleagues have already approved legislation and staked out top budget priorities to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) for local school districts this year (the governor proposes a two-year phase out of the remaining GEA) and impose a permanent cap on future state government spending.
 
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano:
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“The governor presented his agenda for New York today. As usual, his agenda includes some proposals I can support, others that need more clarity and some I just cannot support.
 
“First, I am encouraged the governor has finally agreed to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) that cut funding from our local schools. It’s long overdue that we finally restore these funds so our school districts will have the resources necessary to provide our children with the education they deserve.
 
“I am pleased the Governor has finally submitted a five-year road and bridge plan. However, I am concerned his proposal to fund roads and bridges is $4 billion less than his proposal for the MTA. That’s not parity. In addition, I am equally concerned that his entire infrastructure plan fails to increase funding for municipalities to fix their local roads, bridges and culverts through the CHIPS program. This is a critically important program that must be increased.
 
“Although the governor recognizes the need to reduce the tax burden on small businesses, unfortunately, his tax relief plan is not nearly broad, bold or aggressive enough to encourage the private sector investment needed to foster economic development and job creation. This lack of tax relief, coupled with the governor’s $15 per hour minimum wage proposal, will have a very negative impact on our small businesses, farmers, not for profit agencies, local governments and school districts. This proposal will hurt the very people he is trying to help as this will lead to job losses and business closures.
 
“In regard to ethics reform, I wholeheartedly agree with the governor that we need to strip the pensions from public officials who use their position to violate the public trust. They do not deserve a taxpayer-funded pension. However, I am adamantly opposed to the governor’s proposal to create a taxpayer-funded campaign system that estimates show will cost taxpayers over $200 million a year. This is a misplaced priority that will not solve this problem.
 
“This is just a snapshot of some of the many issues we will be dealing with during budget negotiations. This is just the beginning of the process, and I look forward to working with the governor and my legislative colleagues to adopt a budget that is fair and equitable for all New Yorkers.”
 
Assemblyman Joe Giglio:
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“Today’s State of the State Address included a variety of topics on policy and budget affairs. As always, I am hopeful that after careful review of the governor’s proposals, we can work together to bring the people of New York the representation they deserve.
“Many of the governor’s proposals today will require bipartisan efforts from the Legislature. We cannot afford to develop policy by playing partisan politics; only by working together can we solve the major problems facing New York. Fully restoring funding to our schools, providing mandate and tax relief for working families, and improving our poorly-ranked business climate are all top priorities that must be addressed this year. I’m looking forward to a productive and meaningful legislative session working with the governor and Legislature for the people of New York and the 148th Assembly District.”