NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his fourth State of the State address on Jan. 8, unveiling several proposals falling left and right of center, in his last SOS address before running for re-election.
Cuomo noted an economic turnaround for the state, with some emphasis on Western New York, which, he said, “is in the midst of an exciting transition.” The governor revealed plans to add to that momentum, by locating a $100 million Genomic Medicine Center in WNY the region.
The speech, which lasted just over an hour, also laid out plans for tax breaks for upstate manufacturers and a freeze on property taxes.
In a statement, New York State Sen. Patrick Gallivan praised the governor’s promise to “stay the course, in terms of fiscal responsibility,” and said he is “pleased that the governor is committed to delivering broad-based tax reduction for Upstate families, businesses, and specifically, the all-important manufacturing sector.”
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also released a statement, echoing the governor’s positive assessment of the state’s economy, but qualified by saying that more work still needs to be done.
“Over the past few years, the state’s financial position has grown stronger, with spending more closely aligned with revenue,” wrote DiNapoli. “However, more work remains, to achieve structure balance.”
“In this current fiscal year, my office identified almost $5 billion in temporary resources, to support state spending,” he added. “It is also time to tackle comprehensive reforms to the state’s budget process, debt and capital planning.”
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio released a statement expressing approval of the governor’s emphasis on tax reforms, though he said he would like to see efforts to reform the state’s tax code.
“I’m excited the governor has put tax relief and tax reform,” wrote Giglio, “both for individual property owners and large and small businesses, on the table. However, missing from the discussion was comprehensive mandate relief for municipalities and school districts.
“In addition,” Giglio continued, “it is important that we streamline, reform and eliminate the massive amount of bureaucratic, agency-adopted regulations that exist today, in the state of New York, which place an immense burden on families, businesses and governments.”
Giglio said he would also like to see the governor address Common Core standards, which have been a point of contention, within the state.
“I’m also hopeful that the governor will commit to reforming the state’s education system,” wrote Giglio, “specifically by reforming the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards. Although no mention of this was made in the State of the State, I believe that the concerns of students, parents and educators need to be addressed, as soon as possible.
Cuomo also outlined plans to support statewide pre-kindergarten programs, allow certain hospitals to provide medical marijuana to some seriously ill patients and create a $2 billion bond referendum to modernize state schools, known as “Smart Schools.”
Other highlights of the address included:
– Tougher penalties for drunk drivers and texting behind the wheel, including a three strikes policy for driving while intoxicated and the loss of a license for a year, for teens caught texting.
– The implementation of “New York State Adventure Licenses,” which would combine sporting and driving licenses.
– A proposal to found a State University of New York College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity.
– Bonuses of up to $20,000 to the state’s highest-rated teachers, from a proposed “Teacher Excellence Fund.”
– A push to locate casinos upstate, later this year.
– Efforts toward connecting Upstate farmers with downstate markets, through an “Upstate-Downstate Food-to-Table Summit.”
– Modernization of New York’s LaGuardia and JFK airports.
– Repair or replacement of 104 aging bridges, across the state.