Category Archives: New York State politics

In State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo Advances Far-Reaching Agenda to Build on Progressive Policy

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers the 2018 State of the State with an expansive progressive agenda of specific proposals for social, economic, environmental and political justice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, presenting a far-reaching 2018 agenda that delivers on the promise of progressive government by advancing a slate of critical social and economic policies to improve the lives of New Yorkers. The bold agenda includes a full package of legislative reforms, robust investments and targeted actions – from a comprehensive women’s rights agenda to a first-in-the-nation plan to fight the federal tax assault to nation-leading criminal justice reforms – that will increase opportunity for New Yorkers and ensure the Empire State continues to serve as a beacon of equality, unity and fairness for the nation.

These sweeping proposals build on seven years of progress under Governor Cuomo – passing a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free college, marriage equality, paid family leave, gun safety, infrastructure, and landmark criminal justice reforms, all while lowering taxes for the middle class, capping property taxes and keeping spending increases to the lowest levels in generations. In the face of a concerted federal assault from Washington, New York will continue to lead the way in 2018, fostering our shared values of opportunity, equality, fairness, and hope, and proving the competency of our progressive government.

“New York believes that there is no future built through division – but only through unity,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “The New York way is that tolerance is expected from all, inclusion is our operating principle, and forging community is the ultimate goal. For too long in this country, government has promised too much and delivered too little. This administration understands that effective government requires citizen confidence and management competence.  To better society, government leaders must be dreamers and doers; visionaries and achievers. We are facing unprecedented challenges to women’s rights, our immigrant community, the environment and our economy. New York is unwavering. We will continue to lead the nation by fighting to protect and advance the rights of all women, ensuring the integrity of our elections, safeguarding New York’s natural resources, creating the jobs of tomorrow, combating the federal assault on our tax code and reforming our criminal justice system so that wealth does not dictate outcome.”

Highlights of the Governor’s 2018 Agenda include:

  • Keeping New York Economically Competitive
  • Upholding the New York Promise
  • Expanding Educational Opportunity for All
  • Continuing Economic Opportunity and Growth Under NY Works
  • Providing A Cleaner, Greener and Healthier New York: The Wellness Agenda
  • Leading the Fight Against Climate Change
  • Advancing the Democracy Agenda
  • Building a Stronger, Safer New York

 The Governor’s 2018 Policy Book is available here.

Here is a run-down of the specific proposals:

KEEPING NEW YORK ECONOMICALLY COMPETITIVE

Since day one, Governor Cuomo has fought to reduce taxes for New Yorkers. Today all New Yorkers pay a lower state tax rate than when Governor Cuomo took office, and the Governor has secured the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947, the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968 and the lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917. While Washington leaves our middle class behind, New York will continue to fight for our hardworking families.

  • Fight the Federal Tax Assault on New York: The recently enacted federal tax law is an assault on New York. By gutting the deductibility of state and local taxes, the law effectively raises middle class families’ property and state income taxes by 20 to 25 percent, and undermines a critical foundation of state and local government finances in New York State and across the nation. New York is already the top “donor state” in the nation—contributing $48 billion more annually to the federal government than it gets back—and under the new law the State will pay an additional $14 billion per year. Governor Cuomo believes that we must take dramatic action to preserve our state’s economy. He is putting forward a multi-part strategy to fight this assault on New York. First, we will challenge this unprecedented federal double taxation in court as unconstitutional, because it violates states’ rights and the principle of equal protection. Second, we will lead the nation’s resistance to the new law, starting a repeal-and-replace effort: “Tax Fairness for All” campaign. Third, we will take action to protect the state’s economy by exploring the feasibility of a major shift in tax policy, and are developing a plan to restructure the current income and payroll tax system, as well as create new opportunities for charitable contributions to support public programs. As we launch this massive and complicated undertaking, we will engage tax experts, employers, and other stakeholders in a thorough and collaborative process to produce a proposal that promotes fairness for New York’s taxpayers and safeguards the competitiveness of New York’s economy.
  • Address the Carried Interest Loophole: Despite promises to the contrary, the federal government left in place the so-called “carried interest” loophole. Using a multi-state approach, Governor Cuomo will address this Wall Street giveaway.
  • Reduce Taxes to Record Lows for Middle-Class New Yorkers: The Budget continues to lower Personal Income Tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. With the middle class tax cuts of 2012, rates were lowered from 6.85 percent to 6.45 percent for taxpayers in the $40,000-$150,000 income bracket, and to 6.65 percent in the $150,000-$300,000 income bracket. Under these new reforms, the rate will drop even further this year, to 6.33 percent and 6.57 respectively. They will continue to drop all the way to 5.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively, when the cuts are fully phased in by 2025. The average New Yorker will save $250 in taxes in 2018, and $698 when fully phased in. These new lower tax rates will save middle class New Yorkers nearly $6.6 billion in just the first four years, and annual savings are projected to reach $4.2 billion and benefit 6 million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the state’s lowest middle class tax rates in more than 70 years.
  • Continue to Reduce the Local Property Tax Burden by Making the State’s County Shared Services Panels Permanent: Governor Cuomo has made a historic commitment to reducing local property taxes for millions of New Yorkers. New York State will build on the historic progress achieved by taking the next step forward to provide local governments with new tools to put money back in the pockets of middle-class families. The state will provide $225 million in the FY 2019 budget to meet the match commitment of the County Wide Shared Services Initiative and the Governor will work to make the state’s successful county-wide shared services panels permanent in order to institutionalize savings initiatives. The Governor proposes that state funding for local government performance aid be conditional on the continuation of shared services panels. The state will also ease rules on the creation of local healthcare consortia to reduce local health insurance costs. The Governor will direct the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish guidance and provide technical assistance to local governments in order to ease the process of creating health consortia, specifically for smaller municipalities. The Governor has directed the Department of State and other agencies to continue to work with local municipalities to examine other legal and policy impediments to shared services by municipalities, such as zoning and other functions, to be considered this session. Additionally, to help communities across the state take advantage of Smart Street Lighting technology and its taxpayer savings and energy efficiency benefits, Governor Cuomo will launch a statewide Smart Street Lighting program to convert 500,000 street lights to LED technology by 2025. This program has the potential to reduce energy consumption annually across the state by 482 gigawatt hours, the equivalent of 44,770 households, save taxpayers $87 million annually, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of light and safety of communities across the state. Finally, Governor Cuomo will continue the state’s local property tax relief program that will provide an average reduction of $380 in local property taxes to 2.6 million homeowners this year alone. 

UPHOLDING THE NEW YORK PROMISE 

Advancing the Women’s Agenda 

New York has a long and proud legacy of leading the way to advance women’s rights. From the birth of the women’s rights movement at Seneca Falls to the recent passage of the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation, New York continues to champion women’s rights and break down barriers to equality.

In 2018, we will build on our progress by continuing to advance equality for women and protect our rights against federal attempts to stall and undermine us. The Council on Women and Girls will release a full set of policy recommendations to create opportunity for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life.

  • Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: The Governor will launch a multi-pronged agenda that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. The comprehensive reforms to protect women’s rights include legislation to prevent public dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims against individuals, void forced arbitration policies in employee contracts, and mandate that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed.
  • Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers: New York law prohibits the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of felony or “serious” offenses. However, this excludes certain misdemeanor offenses involving domestic violence, such as assault and battery crimes or strangulation. To ensure that all domestic violence offenders are held to the same standard, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to include all domestic violence misdemeanors on the list of prohibited offenses.
  • End Sextortion and Revenge Porn: To end this disturbing form of sexual exploitation, Governor Cuomo proposes a two-pronged approach that will criminalize disclosing or threatening to disclose sexually compromising images or videos with the intent to cause material harm to the victim’s mental or emotional health or to compel the victim to undertake some sexual act; and criminalize compelling a person to expose him or herself or engage in sexual conduct by threatening to harm the victim’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. This new legislation will create the following crimes, which will also require registration as a sex offender:
  • Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images: With intent to cause material harm to mental or emotional health, a person (1) disseminates images of intimate sexual nature; or (2) compels another to engage in conduct by threatening to disseminate images of an intimate sexual nature. This will be a class A misdemeanor; punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 3rd Degree: A person compels or induces another person to expose his or her sexual or intimate parts or engage in sexual conduct by instilling a fear in him or her that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor will perform an act intended to harm the person, or another person, with respect to his or her health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. This will be a class E Felony; punishable by up to four years in prison.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 2nd Degree: Same as above but the victim is under 17-years-old. This will be a class D Felony; punishable by up to seven years in prison.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 1st Degree: Same as above but the victim is under 15-years-old. This will be a class C Felony; punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
  • Codify Roe v. Wade into State Law: For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into state law to secure a woman’s access to reproductive health options. This year, the Governor will again call for the passage of legislation to ensure the rights of women to make personal health care decisions to protect their health in addition to their life, and to ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Governor will also continue to champion a constitutional amendment to codify these protections into the state constitution.
  • Pass the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act: Contraception has been a critical tool for women to gain economic and social independence. The use and availability of contraception also reduces the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion. As the federal government rolls back access to reproductive health care, New York will not be part of an attempt to undermine the independence of women. In 2017, Governor Cuomo fought to uphold the reproductive health protections of the Affordable Care Act, no matter what happened at the federal level, by enacting regulations that ensured access to cost-free contraception and medically necessary abortion. In 2018, the Governor will advance a program bill to enshrine access to contraception including emergency contraception into New York State law, by passing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.
  • Call on the New York State Common Retirement Fund to Invest in Companies with Women and Minority Leadership: New York State’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Program has seen dramatic increases in participation due to the Governor’s goal of 30 percent MWBE State contract utilization—the highest goal of any state in the nation. However, despite this progress, women and minorities remain severely underrepresented in business ownership, in management roles and on corporate boards. To further address these imbalances, in 2018, Governor Cuomo will call for the New York Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with adequate female and minority representation in their management and on their boards of directors. The Governor will work with Comptroller DiNapoli to put in place processes and standards to systematically invest in companies that invest in women and minority leadership.
  • Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation and Expand the MWBE Program to All State-Funded Contracts: Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has transformed the State’s MWBE program. In order to continue building on this promise, Governor Cuomo will propose legislation during the 2018 session that will reauthorize the law and expand the MWBE Program requirements to more contracts entirely funded by the state. The legislation will require MWBE goals on state funds used for contracting purposes on the local level. This will leverage the largest pool of state funding in history to combat systemic discrimination and create new opportunities for MWBE participation. 

Criminal Justice For All 

Governor Cuomo has advanced significant criminal justice reforms throughout his time in office, improving every stage of the justice system from arrest to community reentry. Three major reforms were passed this past year, including Raising the Age of criminal responsibility, extending the landmark Hurrell-Harring settlement’s indigent criminal defense reforms to the entire state, and requiring law enforcement to video-record interrogations for serious offenses, as well as allowing properly-conducted witness identification into evidence at trial. In 2018, New York will build on this bold progress by restoring basic fairness to our state’s criminal justice system.

  • Reshape Bail and Pretrial Detention: When New York’s laws governing bail were enacted back in the 1970s they were among the most progressive in the nation. Unfortunately, the status quo is no longer acceptable. Governor Cuomo is proposing legislation that will eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. Instead, people will be released either on their own recognizance or with non-monetary conditions imposed by the court, such as reporting to a pretrial services agency. For people charged with a violent felony offense, both monetary and non-monetary bail will be permitted, but only after a judge conducts an individualized review of the nature of the case and the defendant’s personal and financial circumstances. If monetary bail is set, the court must give the defendant a choice between cash or bail industry bonds and an alternative form of bail such as an unsecured or partially secured bond. Additionally, in limited cases such as domestic violence offenses, cases involving serious violence, or when a defendant commits a new crime while out on pretrial release, a judge could order, after due process, a defendant to be held in jail pretrial without bail if they find the defendant poses a significant flight risk or if there is a current threat to a reasonably identifiable person’s physical safety.
  • Expand the Discovery Process: Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, prosecutors and the defense will have to share information in a multi-stage time frame before a trial takes place. This will include disclosure of evidence and information favorable to the defense; intended exhibits; expert opinion evidence; witnesses’ criminal history information; and search warrant information will be made available to defendants in a timely and consistent manner. Doing so ensures attorneys have the tools necessary to adequately represent their clients. Additionally, along with an accelerated disclosure of witness information, this plan will provide numerous special procedures to ensure the safety of those witnesses and the integrity of the judicial process.
  • Improve Access to a Speedy Trial: At the Governor’s direction, new legislation being advanced will guarantee that criminal cases proceed to trial without undue delay and that people are not held in jail for unreasonable periods of time. The legislation will reduce unnecessary delays and adjournments in court proceedings, requiring that people held in custody – not just their attorneys – consent to a speedy trial waiver that must be approved by a judge. These waivers include a deadline so that the defendant, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges understand when the trial is scheduled and will only be granted after the defendant has made an appearance before a judge. Courts will also conduct periodic reviews of cases where defendants are held in detention, to assess the prosecutor’s statement of readiness, reconsider bail status if appropriate, and schedule a pre-trial conference. A motion to dismiss must also now be made at least 20 days before the trial begins and it must include sworn factual allegations specifying the time periods that are being charged against the prosecution.
  • Transform Civil Asset Forfeiture: New legislation will ban all asset seizures, unless an arrest is made. In cases where people are acquitted or the case is otherwise dismissed, they would get their money and valuables returned. Additionally, the State Division of Criminal Justice Services will expand reporting requirements to include additional information, such as demographic and geographic data, to better understand how civil asset forfeiture is used in New York State. Once a more comprehensive data set is created, New York will then evaluate the asset forfeiture system and make the appropriate changes to fix the identified issues.
  • Improve the Re-Entry Process: The Governor is proposing to remove outdated statutory bans on occupational licensing for professions outside of law enforcement and instead, applicants will be assessed on an individual basis. The mandatory suspension of driver’s licenses following a drug conviction will also be removed to allow people to travel to work and attend drug treatment, as long as the crimes did not involve driving. Additionally, the Governor will safely widen release opportunities for people who have shown rehabilitation by expanding the type and variety of programs provided in state prisons to make those individuals eligible for merit release and limited credit time allowances. Under the proposal, the Parole Board will examine cases under a new “geriatric parole” provision in which the Board can balance any public safety risk posed by these individuals with their need for age-appropriate treatment in the community. The reforms will also speed returning citizens’ reintegration to society by reducing their financial burdens after release, including removing the current parole supervision fee and having local child support enforcement offices review child support orders for people incarcerated over six months.  Finally, the Governor has ordered a comprehensive review of parole revocation guidelines and practices to determine appropriate alternatives to incarceration for those who violate technical parole conditions but pose no risk to public safety.
  • Reduce New York’s Use of Solitary Confinement: In 2016, Governor Cuomo began implementing a historic agreement reached between the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to reduce the frequency and duration of solitary confinement and to improve conditions within state prisons. This year, the State intends to continue this massive overhaul by having the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision close over 1,200 solitary housing unit beds throughout New York State’s prisons.
  • Protect the Rights and Safety of New Yorkers in Local Jails: To address deficiencies in all local jails, the Governor proposes an immediate enforcement strategy from the State Commission of Correction. The Commission—which is statutorily authorized to oversee all correctional facilities—will undertake a comprehensive review of facilities throughout New York that have repeatedly and egregiously failed to meet well-established standards of safety, security, and service. This review will include an analysis of reportable incidents, deaths in custody, and physical facility conditions. Upon the Commission’s determination, local jails with persistent, pervasive problems will be required to create and adhere to a corrective action plan to either improve their facilities—or close them in an expedited manner—to ensure the safety for both staff and incarcerated individuals.
  • Support the Child Victims Act: The Governor seeks to eliminate statutes of limitation for all sexually-related criminal cases when committed against a person who is less than 18 years of age. Further, the Governor seeks to extend the statute of limitations for civil claims from three years from a victim’s 18th birthday to 50 years from the date of the offense. This would give many victims the opportunity to have their day in court. For any victim who is still unable to bring a lawsuit, the Governor would open a one-year window in which these victims are able to commence their claims. Finally, the Governor will eliminate the need to file a notice of claim with a public entity before being able to bring a lawsuit against that entity.

Launching A Comprehensive Plan to Attack Homelessness 

The Governor is committed to implementing innovative solutions to address the multi-faceted problem of homelessness, including expanding access to affordable housing across the state. In 2016, the Governor launched a landmark $20 billion, five-year plan to combat homelessness and advance the construction of affordable housing in New York State, which included $10 billion to end the homelessness crisis and support housing programs, rental subsidies and other shelter costs in New York City and across the state. The state’s new comprehensive plan to attack homelessness will build on the progress achieved to date.

  • Increase Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: To strengthen shelter services for homeless individuals living with mental illness in existing homeless shelters, Governor Cuomo will direct the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to work together to ensure that Assertive Community Treatment teams are connected to existing shelters, so that individuals with mental illness can access needed treatment. In addition, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will make on-site peer-delivered substance abuse treatment services available in 14 existing shelters across the state. These on-site services will assist approximately 200 homeless individuals with substance use disorder by providing services in shelters that are located in areas that have seen the biggest increases in substance use.
  • Require Outreach and a Comprehensive Homeless Services Plan from Each Local Social Services District: Homelessness is on the rise and street homelessness is the most difficult problem to solve. Governor Cuomo will require that local governments have an effective outreach program to address street homelessness as a condition of receiving state funding for homelessness services. He is also directing that the MTA, the Port Authority, Centro, Capital District Transportation Authority, the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority do the same. The Governor will direct the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to require social services districts to engage in planning activities related to street outreach, homelessness prevention activities, rapid rehousing, and ongoing housing stability for the formerly homeless. The State will also require social service districts to engage with the State’s ongoing efforts, set reasonable goals that are data-driven and uniquely tailored to the needs of its communities, and to report regularly on progress made. The State will provide technical assistance throughout the planning process by releasing guidance related to best practices and policies that can facilitate success.

We Are All New Yorkers – Immigrants’ Rights 

New York State and this nation were founded on the premise that we are all created equal. While this promise may be threatened by acts of hate and intolerance, we must remember that we are stronger than that – we are one New York and we are all immigrants. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will continue our legacy of protecting the rights and freedoms of all New Yorkers so that they have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to our state’s cultural and economic strength.

  • Continue the First-In-the-Nation Liberty Defense Project to Provide Critical Legal Representation to Immigrants: Last year, Governor Cuomo successfully launched the Liberty Defense Project, a first-in-the nation, state-led, public-private legal defense fund to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of status, have access to high quality legal counsel. In partnership with leading nonprofit legal service providers, the project has significantly expanded the availability of immigration attorneys statewide. As misguided immigration policy at the federal level continues to threaten New York’s immigrant families, Governor Cuomo will work to ensure that the Liberty Defense Project continue to sustain and grow the network of legal service providers providing these critical service in defense of our immigrant communities.
  • Pass the DREAM Act: Since 2002, undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY if they graduated from a New York high school or received a GED in the state. Yet, each year, many talented students who graduate from New York high schools remain unable to fulfill their potential simply because they cannot afford the tuition and lack access to tuition assistance to help pay for school. We can do better. Governor Cuomo will press for the passage of the DREAM Act to finally open the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers. The DREAM Act will give undocumented students access to the Tuition Assistance Program, as well as state-administered scholarships. An investment in young immigrants’ futures is an investment in New York’s future. 

Protecting the Rights of Workers

New York has a long and proud tradition of fighting for union workers’ rights.  At a time of stagnant wages, evaporating pensions, and swelling household debt, unions offer a pathway to the middle class and create economic growth that reaches all Americans.

  • Examine Eliminating the Minimum Wage Tip Credit to Strengthen Economic Justice in New York State: Governor Cuomo is directing the Commissioner of Labor to schedule public hearings to evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits in New York State. The Department of Labor will hold public hearings to solicit input from workers, businesses and others to ensure New York continues to protect economic justice for all New Yorkers.
  • Stand with Labor Unions Facing Uncertainty from the Supreme Court: Public-sector labor unions are under attack on the national level, facing legal challenges to their very core.  The United States Supreme Court will soon hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees which seeks to effectively end public labor unions.  The Court will determine whether fee arrangements like those permissible under the Taylor Law violate the First Amendment. As the nation waits for a decision in the Janus case, Governor Cuomo stands beside public labor unions in their fight for survival and will do everything in his power to preserve workers’ rights and protect the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Serving Our Veterans 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has championed programs to make New York State the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs continues to strengthen its ties with the approximately 775,000 Veterans living in New York State.

  • Prevent Financial Exploitation of Veterans and Their Families: Veterans who fight to protect our state and nation should never have to continue fighting enemies when they return home. Far too often, deceitful businesses target veterans who are elderly and/or disabled, promising to help veterans and their family members obtain federal benefits in exchange for an often-substantial fee. Governor Cuomo proposes to enact the nation’s strongest legislation against pension poaching to eliminate this predatory conduct. This law will implement new disclosure requirements for businesses that advertise their fee-based services of filing claims and appeals for VA benefits, and will enable the prosecution of businesses that violate these standards.
  • Properly Designate New York State’s Veterans Service Agency: The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs is commonly mistaken for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. To avoid this confusion, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs will now become the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services.  This new name accurately defines the core mission of this agency—serving veterans and their families the rest of the way—and clearly distinguishes the Division from the federal VA, avoiding any unnecessary mistakes and confusion moving forward.
  • Expand Programs for Veterans Behind Bars: Through the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Governor implemented three Veterans Residential Therapeutic Programs at Medium Security Correctional Facilities that identify each veteran’s individual needs and provide them with corresponding services. Under this new proposal, the Governor will provide resources to expand the programs available and offer the programs in Maximum Security Facilities for the first time.
  • Deliver Access to Justice for Veterans through Law School Partnerships: Building on the success of New York’s Justice for Heroes grants, Governor Cuomo will expand the program to offer participating schools the chance to renew their grants for the next two years. By providing law schools with a total of up to $150,000, each participating school will be able to improve the sustainability of its new legal services initiatives, ensuring that free legal services for veterans and their families will be provided by faculty and students at these schools for many years to come.

EXPANDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

The Importance of Early Education 

Governor Cuomo has championed early childhood and family health to ensure that all children are healthy and thriving in New York State. The Governor recognizes that it is essential we reach our children in the critical development window while they are young. Early childhood support and education is the basis of a quality education and can significantly improve the long-term prospects of our young people. Building on the progress of recent years, Governor Cuomo will make critical investments to strengthen early childhood programming and expand access to more New Yorkers. 

  • Invest When It Matters Most – The First 1,000 Days of Life: In August of 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to create a First 1,000 Days on Medicaid working group to identify and recommend ways to improve outcomes and opportunities for young children and their families through access to childhood health services, and expansion of other health and early childhood system coordination and family supports. Based on the recommendations of the working group, Governor Cuomo will begin implementation of the comprehensive First 1,000 Days Plan to:
    • Develop a clear, standardized model of pediatric primary care to ensure that growth and development are on track and establish a uniform measurement tool for providers and educators to assess child development upon Kindergarten entry.
    • Facilitate group-based models of prenatal care to support pregnant women living in neighborhoods with the poorest birth outcomes in the state, including high incidence of preterm births and low birth weights.
    • Enhance home visiting services in three high risk communities using a targeted approach to match families to a home visiting program that best fits their needs and eligibility.
    • Launch peer-family navigator services in non-healthcare community settings, such as family homeless shelters and drug treatment centers, to facilitate effective warm handoffs from the provider diagnosing the child to the treatment provider allowing continuity of care in services for at risk families.
    • Provide parents of young children with improved access to evidence based parent-child therapy models.
  • Expand Pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-Year-Olds in High-Need Schools Across the State: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the State has more than doubled its commitment to pre-kindergarten from $385 million to more than $800 million. In addition, since Governor Cuomo introduced three-year-old pre-kindergarten in 2015, more than $30 million is now dedicated to high-need three-year-olds alone. Governor Cuomo will continue to invest in pre-kindergarten by investing an additional $15 million create 3,000 new slots for three and four-year-olds in high-need schools around the state.
  • Establish the Child Care Availability Taskforce: To build on the state’s investments in child care and the development of safe, accessible, and affordable child care, the Governor is establishing a new Child Care Availability Taskforce. This taskforce, which will include representatives from the child care provider community, the advocacy community, representatives of the business community, unions that represent child care providers, representatives from several state agencies and local departments of social services, will be responsible for examining access to affordable child care; availability of child care for those with non-traditional work hours; statutory and regulatory changes that could promote or enhance access to child care; business incentives to increase child care access; and the impact on tax credits and deductions relating to child care.

Five Point Plan to Ensure No Student Goes Hungry 

The Governor’s No Student Goes Hungry Program includes investments to expand the Farm to School program, legislation to expand access to free breakfast and put an end to lunch shaming, and policy changes to ensure students in kindergarten through college receive access to farm-fresh foods in a quality learning environment.

  • Ban Lunch Shaming Statewide: Lunch shaming is a disgraceful practice in some schools where children are publicly humiliated in front of their peers by adults for not having money for lunch. The Governor will propose a law that when passed, would immediately end the practice of lunch shaming of any kind.
  • Require Breakfast After the Bell: In order to expand access to breakfast and prevent students from going hungry during morning classes, Governor Cuomo will propose requiring schools with more than 70 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch to provide breakfast after the school day has begun for the next school year. In successful breakfast after the bell programs, schools can either serve breakfast in the classroom, or offer nutritious vending machines options to ensure that students have access to breakfast as they start their day. To ease the transition, the state will provide technical assistance and capital funds for equipment such as coolers and vending machines to support breakfast after the bell.
  • Expand Farm to School: New York will double the state’s investment in the Farm to School program to support the use of healthy, local, New York foods in school districts across the state. The Farm to School program was created to connect schools with local farmers and offers technical assistance and capacity in the school to source products locally to help schools provide students with nutritious meals from food produced by local farms.
  • Increase the Use of Farm-Fresh, Locally Grown Foods at School: Lack of healthy, nutritious food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school. It is also often linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems for children in preschool through adolescence. To incentivize school districts to use more local farm-fresh products, Governor Cuomo will propose an increase in the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from the current 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent of its ingredients from New York farms.
  • Require Food Pantries on All SUNY and CUNY Campuses: To ensure consistent healthy food options are available to young adults on college campuses, the Governor will require all SUNY and CUNY schools to either provide physical food pantries on campus, or enable students to receive food through a separate arrangement that is stigma-free. The Governor proposes a $1 million state investment for schools to implement the program.

Expanding High Quality Educational Programming For All 

Governor Cuomo has secured record investments in K-12 education to support all students in the State, recognizing that no investment is more important than the future of our young people. The State’s investment in education has continued to increase under the Governor’s leadership. This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to expand education programming and set young people on path to success.

  • Launch An Additional Round of the Empire State After-School Program: Last year, Governor Cuomo created the Empire State After-School program, which provided $35 million to create 22,000 after-school spots in high-need communities. This year, the Governor proposes an additional $10 million to support the creation of 6,250 new slots in communities with high rates of student homelessness, or designated as in need of a safe place for students to go after the school day ends. High-quality after school programs are associated with a return of $3 for every dollar spent.
  • Expand Successful Early College High School Program by Growing the Network of Schools Throughout the State: During the Governor’s administration, New York has spent $47 million to support Early College High Schools, an innovative program where students can earn college credits leading to an associate’s degree while earning their high school diploma. In order to expand the Early College High School program model to students across the State, the Governor is proposing an additional $9 million to support the creation of at least 15 Early College High Schools, where schools will partner with a college or university and industry partner to create opportunities for every student in the school to graduate with some college credit.
  • Expand Computer Science Education to All Elementary, Middle, and High Schools:Technology is among the fastest growing employment sectors, and New York students need to be prepared for the jobs for tomorrow. In order to ensure that New York schools are able to offer coursework in computer science, the Governor proposes a $6 million annual commitment to provide teacher support and development in computer science and engineering. In addition, the Governor will call on the State Education Department to work with industry leaders to develop model computer science standards.

Expanding Access to Higher Education 

Governor Cuomo has led the nation in expanding access to a quality and affordable college education and provide our young people with the tools they need in the 21st century economy. Since he took office, the Governor has taken action to reduce the financial barriers to college, including implementing a rational tuition plan that limits SUNY and CUNY tuition increases, creating the Get On Your Feet Student Loan Forgiveness Program, launching the groundbreaking Excelsior Scholarship to provide tuition-free college for middle class families, and investing $8 million to help reduce the costs of textbooks through innovations like the Open Educational Resources at SUNY and CUNY.

Building on these historic accomplishments, Governor Cuomo will continue to fight to ensure all New Yorkers can go to college and achieve their dreams.

  • Launch the Second Phase of the Excelsior Free Tuition Program: Last year, Governor Cuomo created the historic Excelsior Scholarship, the first-in-the-nation program to provide free tuition at New York’s public colleges and universities for middle class families. Along with other sources of tuition assistance, including the generous New York State Tuition Assistance Program, the Excelsior Scholarship allows approximately 53 percent of full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students, or more than 210,000 New York residents, to attend school tuition-free.  In FY 2019, the Excelsior Scholarship will enter year two of a three-year phase-in. Starting in the 2018-19 academic year, the Excelsior Scholarship income eligibility threshold will increase, allowing New Yorkers with household incomes up to $110,000 to be eligible. To continue this landmark program, the Governor is proposing $118 million to support 27,000 students in the Excelsior Scholarship program.
  • Combat Exploding Student Debt: Increasing access to an affordable higher education is critical and New York State has led the way. The Governor will advance a comprehensive plan to further reduce student debt that includes creating a Student Loan Ombudsman at the Department of Financial Services; requiring all colleges annually provide students with estimated amounts incurred for student loans, such as the amount of student loans incurred to date, a range of the total payoff amount including principal and interest, and the monthly repayment amount that the student may incur for the loan to date; enacting sweeping protections for students including ensuring that no student loan servicers or debt consultants can mislead a borrower or engage in any predatory act or practice, misapply payments, provide credit reporting agencies with inaccurate information, or any other practices that may harm the borrower; and prohibiting the suspension of professional licenses of individuals behind or in default on their student loans.

NY WORKS

Preparing the Workforce of Today & Tomorrow 

Governor Cuomo has overseen a remarkable resurgence of New York’s economy. Since he took office, New York’s economy has created more than 1 million private sector jobs, and the State’s unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3 percent to 4.7 percent. But in the midst of this economic growth today, Governor Cuomo recognizes the urgent necessity of preparing New Yorkers for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. On average, there will be nearly 362,000 job openings each year in New York over the next ten years, and Governor Cuomo is committed to ensuring that New Yorkers are equipped to fill them.

  • Establish a new, $175 million Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments through the Regional Economic Development Councils, targeted in emerging fields: Establishing the Consolidated Funding Application for economic development funds is one of the Governor’s signature economic development achievements — a bottom-up approach that brings together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their region. The State has invested more than $5.4 billion through the REDCs that have funded more than 6,300 projects and supports more than 220,000 jobs across the state. Building on the success of this bottom-up model, establishing a new Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments would support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries—with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy and technology. Funds would also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. The funding for the workforce CFA will consist both of $150 million in new, flexible resources and $25 million in existing streams of workforce funding.
  • Expand the New York Youth Works Program: To build on the success of the Youth Jobs Program, Governor Cuomo proposes to increase the maximum credit available to certified New York employers by 50 percent—raising the maximum tax credit from $5,000 to $7,500 for certified youth employed full-time and from $2,500 to $3,750 for those employed part-time.  In addition, to help participants better-develop the skills needed to advance from an entry-level position toward a chosen career, the Governor will direct the Department of Labor to align and connect employers and youth participating in the Youth Jobs Program with regional workforce development efforts of SUNY, CUNY and New York’s BOCES. This alignment will leverage State workforce investments and augment skills development that employers are able to provide on-site with additional workforce support in the classroom and online.
  • Create New Office of Workforce Development: Currently, there are dozens of programs available in various agencies, but if we are to maximize our capacity to meet the state’s workforce needs, the state needs to better integrate this fragmented process. The Office of Workforce Development will serve as a focal point of accountability and coordination for all workforce training programs for the state, including the new CFA program. Headed by a new Director of Workforce Development, the Office will establish standards for program performance and ensure alignment with the economic development goals of the state and the individual regions. The Director will serve on the State Workforce Investment Board, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (which reviews proposals submitted by the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils), and the Regional Community College Councils.

Continue the Bottom Up Regional Economic Development Strategy 

Governor Cuomo knows that the American Dream centers on economic security and mobility. He has fought to remove barriers to opportunity, strengthen the middle class, and build pathways to help give every New Yorker a chance to succeed and build a better life for themselves and their family. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has transformed its approach to economic development and adopted a bottom-up strategy that empowers local communities all across the state.

  • Invest $750 Million for Round Eight of the Regional Economic Development Councils: Governor Cuomo created the Regional Economic Development Council competition in 2011 to develop regional economic development plans through a bottom-up approach that brought together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their region.  The State has invested more than $5.4 billion through the REDCs that has funded more than 6,300 projects and supports more than 220,000 jobs across the state.  To build on the success of the REDC program, the Governor proposes continuing this regional economic development approach with an eighth round of the REDC awards with $750 million to fund regional priority projects.
  • Launch Round Three of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative: To give communities the tools they need to select and fuel targeted revitalization strategies, and build on the Governor’s proven track record in energizing the state economy, New York State will expand its already-successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative with an additional $100 million, providing up to $10 million for awards in each region. Together, these investments will ensure that communities have the tools they need to boost their local economies and transform downtown neighborhoods.

Building 21st Century Infrastructure 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York is moving forward with a $100 billion infrastructure program, the most aggressive and ambitious building program in the country. From investing in rehabilitating roads and bridges and rebuilding airports for the 21st century, New York is moving forward with bold projects across the state: a new Moynihan Train Hall to serve as the world-class transit hub that New York deserves; a 1.2 million square foot expansion of the Javits Convention Center; a new Kosciuszko Bridge, the first major new bridge in New York City in more than 50 years; new train stations in Niagara Falls, Rochester and Schenectady; a $6.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Railroad; and a record MTA Capital Plan to bring New York City’s subway system into the 21st century.

  • Broadband for All: New NY Broadband Program Round III Awards: In 2015, the Governor created the New NY Broadband program, the largest and most ambitious state investment in broadband with the goal of ensuring all New Yorkers have access to high speed broadband. Since its launch, the program has reached 2.3 million homes and extended broadband access to over 98 percent of New Yorkers. This year, the Governor will advance Round III of New NY Broadband program awards to address the remaining two percent of New Yorkers, connecting an additional 120,000 locations. Round III will catalyze more than $360 million in total investment, including $225 million in State funding. With Round III, the Governor is proud to announce that New York has invested $1 billion in this effort and 99.9 percent of New Yorkers have commitments for high-speed broadband access, with all but one percent having access to 100 mbps service or better.
  • Expand Cashless Tolling to the Entire New York State Thruway and Port Authority Crossings: By eliminating the need to stop at a toll, this technology improves the driving experiences, expedites traffic flow and benefits those who live near tollbooths by reducing congestion-related emissions. The Governor championed the implementation of cashless tolling at MTA bridges and tunnels, which was completed in 2017, and also announced that same year the expansion of cashless tolling to the Thruway’s Harriman and Grand Island toll facilities. To expand these benefits across the state, Governor Cuomo plans to implement cashless tolling technology on all toll collection points along the Thruway. Additionally, the Governor has also urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to study the possibility of installing cashless toll collection on all PANYNJ operated Bridges and Tunnels. When complete, users of the Thruway, from New York City to Buffalo, will experience reductions in traffic congestion and improvements in travel times. The project will utilize Design-Build construction to reduce costs and accelerate the construction schedule. Cashless tolling throughout the Thruway system will be operational in 2020.
  • Invest in New Mass Transit, New Roads and Bridges: In 2018, New York State will continue its landmark infrastructure program by investing $11.7 billion to transform the state’s transportation infrastructure. The State Department of Transportation will pave 2,000 miles of road and repair or rehabilitate 500 bridges, and the New York State Thruway Authority will renew an additional 170 lane miles, repair or rehabilitate 25 bridges and complete the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo bridge in 2018.
  • Redevelop and Rebrand Stewart International: The Governor is calling on the Port Authority to approve this $34 million investment, which would increase access to world-class destinations and attractions throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley by supporting the construction of a permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station. The new FIS will allow the airport to handle both domestic and international flights, while providing an improved passenger experience for all travelers. Additionally, as part of this modernization effort and to improve its name recognition, the airport will be rebranded as New York International at Stewart Field.
  • Build a New Metro North Station at Woodbury Common: Woodbury Common attracts approximately 13 million visitors a year, causing significant congestion in the community, yet there is no rail option to provide visitors an alternative to driving. By spearheading the accelerated transformation of the Route 32 corridor at Woodbury Common, Governor Cuomo has already taken action to ease the congestion in the area. Building on this effort, Governor Cuomo will support a review of the potential for a public-private partnership to bring a new Metro North Station to Woodbury Common.
  • Build the AirTrain to Create Train-to-Plane Access to LaGuardia Airport: LaGuardia Airport remains the only major East Coast airport without a direct rail link. To address this problem, Governor Cuomo is calling upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to expeditiously authorize the development of an AirTrain connection between LaGuardia and Willets Point in Queens, creating access to both the number 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road, which offer service to Grand Central, Penn Station and all of Long Island. The project is expected to be developed through a public-private partnership. The Port Authority will begin the environmental review process as soon as possible, with the goal of starting construction in 2019.
  • Take Steps to Revitalize Red Hook: Red Hook, Brooklyn and its surrounding communities are emerging as a hub of possibility and opportunity. Governor Cuomo is calling on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore options for improving and consolidating maritime operations by relocating activities in Red Hook to South Brooklyn. In addition, the Governor is also calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study options for improving transportation access to the Red Hook area and surrounding communities, including the potential extension of subway service from lower Manhattan to a new station in Red Hook through an underwater tunnel.  Once a plan for how to modernize and potentially consolidate maritime activities becomes clear and the MTA study is completed, a community-based planning process with key participation by elected representatives and interested stakeholders would be expected to recommend the appropriate redevelopment alternatives for any Port Authority land no longer needed for maritime needs.
  • Construct an Inland Port in Central New York to Improve Regional Trade: Building on Governor Cuomo’s historic investments in modernizing our infrastructure, New York will construct an inland port in the Town of DeWitt that will facilitate the movement of containerized freight by rail as opposed to truck. This initiative will improve the economic competitiveness of import/export businesses in Central New York while leveraging the privately-funded rail infrastructure serving the region. The inland port will serve to reduce the transportation costs of moving containerized freight between the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Central New York region by as much as $500 per container; retain and create freight-related jobs; reduce vehicle emissions; and remove large trucks from both the New York metropolitan area and from Interstate 81.
  • Move I-81 Forward with Expanded Environmental Impact Statement: Governor Cuomo has been a strong advocate for revitalizing the I-81 viaduct and has pushed to carefully explore every option and alternative for this aging artery. In 2017, the Governor directed the New York State Department of Transportation to initiate an independent study of tunnel and depressed highway alternatives for the I-81 corridor, which concluded that while a tunnel is the most expensive option, it is technically feasible and could be studied in the Environmental Impact Statement. Governor Cuomo is now directing DOT to add the tunnel alternative to the current EIS for further review and consideration, which will ensure public and advisory agencies can provide comments on all three feasible alternatives—the viaduct replacement, community grid, and tunnel alternative—and the detailed engineering, social, economic and environmental studies performed for each.
  • Advance the Transformative Long Island Tunnel Proposal: In 2015, the Governor directed $5 million to the Department of Transportation to examine the feasibility of a tunnel connecting Long Island to Westchester County or Connecticut. This year, the Governor has directed that New York State should continue to pursue such a tunnel, a project which DOT has determined is feasible as a way of reducing traffic on the congested Long Island Expressway.

Fueling Clean Energy Jobs 

New York State is committed to developing a vibrant clean energy economy, and job growth in this emerging industry is booming across the state – with more than 150,000 New Yorkers working in the clean energy industry. In 2014, the Governor launched Reforming the Energy Vision to establish a new framework for clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. In 2016, the Governor established the Clean Energy Standard, requiring 50 percent of New York’s electric supply come from renewable energy sources by 2030. The Governor also supported the creation of a 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund designed to leverage private sector investment, fuel clean energy markets and deliver energy savings across the state. The Fund is expected to save New Yorkers $39 billion in energy costs over the next 10 years while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Increase Transmission of Clean and Renewable Energy By Investing $200 Million to Meet Unprecedented Energy Storage Target of 1,500 Megawatts by 2025: As renewable energy sources produce a larger share of New York’s electricity, New York must also address the intermittency of clean resources like wind and solar that are not continuously available. To address these energy challenges and further New York’s climate and clean energy goals, the Governor is launching an initiative to deploy 1,500 megawatts of energy storage – representing the largest commitment per capita by any state – by 2025 and employ 30,000 New Yorkers in this industry. To achieve this goal, Governor Cuomo is directing state agencies and authorities to work together during 2018 to generate a pipeline of storage projects through utility procurements, to advance regulatory changes in utility rates and wholesale energy markets, to incorporate storage into criteria for large scale renewable procurements and to reduce regulatory barriers. The Governor is also announcing a commitment of at least $200 million from the NY Green Bank for storage-related investments to help drive down costs and to strategically deploy energy storage to where the grid needs it most, Finally, the Governor is also directing NYSERDA to invest at least $60 million through storage pilots and activities to reduce barriers to deploying energy storage.
  • Solicit Proposals for Offshore Wind: To position New York as the leading offshore wind market in the United States and to drive competition, reduce costs and create jobs in this emerging industry, Governor Cuomo is calling for the state to procure at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind power between two solicitations to be issued in 2018 and 2019, resulting in enough clean, renewable energy to power 400,000 New York households. The Governor is also directing NYSERDA to invest $15 million in clean energy workforce development and infrastructure advancement to train workers for jobs in this industry, including offshore wind construction, installation, operation, maintenance, design and associated infrastructure. To attract private investment in port infrastructure and supply chain activities, Governor Cuomo is also directing NYSERDA to work with Empire State Development and other State agencies to determine the most promising public and private offshore wind port infrastructure investments.
  • Divest the New York Common Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments: New York State has taken major steps to reduce its carbon footprint and cut back on the use of fossil fuels as an energy source, yet the New York Common Fund remains heavily invested in fossil fuels. The Governor is calling on the Fund to divest from significant fossil fuel investments and to cease all new investments with entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities. Additionally, the Governor will work with the State Comptroller to create an advisory committee of financial, economic, scientific, business and workforce representatives as a resource for the Common Fund to develop a de-carbonization roadmap to invest in opportunities to combat climate change and support the clean tech economy while assessing financial risks and protecting the Fund. Finally, the Governor calls on the Fund to dedicate a meaningful portion of the Fund’s portfolio to investments that directly promote clean energy—which makes economic and environmental sense. 

A CLEANER, GREENER, AND HEALTHIER NEW YORK: THE WELLNESS AGENDA  

New York State is committed to expanding access to quality and affordable health care for all New Yorkers. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has taken a holistic approach to health care, promoting healthy lifestyles and taking steps to ensure a clean environment. From redesigning Medicaid to reduce costs and improve care to embracing the Affordable Care Act and enrolling nearly one in five New Yorkers through the state’s marketplace, Governor Cuomo has transformed health care in New York State. This year, New York will continue to expand access to affordable and quality health care while addressing the major health challenges facing the state’s communities today.

  • Reverse the Opioid Epidemic: At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York has taken bold steps in confronting the local effects of a nationwide crisis of deadly addiction to opioids, with significant increases in treatment capacity, strong support services, the removal of barriers to accessing high quality treatment, and public awareness and education activities. However, despite this progress, far too many New Yorkers continue to suffer at the hands of addiction. To address this public health crisis, Governor Cuomo is proposing a comprehensive plan to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for perpetuating the epidemic; strengthen protections against addiction stemming from prescription opioids; take steps to eliminate insurance barriers to addiction treatment and recovery services; direct state agencies to implement regulatory and policy reforms that increase access to substance use disorder services; and advance legislation to add 11 fentanyl analogs to Schedule I of the controlled substance schedules of New York State Public Health Law.
  • Enforce Lead Testing: Limiting lead exposure is critical to safeguarding the health and safety of children across New York State. Governor Cuomo is directing the State Department of Health, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and other state partners to develop a system to ensure all housing authorities and all private landlords in the state protect children from this hazard. This proposal comes following the New York City Housing Authority’s unacceptable revelation of its failure to abate lead paint and notify tenants of the danger.

Expanding Access to Open Space 

New York State is home to some of the most pristine natural resources in the nation and Governor Cuomo has continued to demonstrate his commitment to protecting and improving access to New York’s open spaces.

  • Complete the Hudson River Park: Encompassing more than 500 acres and stretching 4.5 miles along Manhattan’s West Side, the Hudson River Park is the borough’s second largest park after Central Park. Under Governor Cuomo, the State’s investment in the Hudson River Park has remained strong, facilitating the redevelopment of Pier 26, Pier 57 and key infrastructure repairs after the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, among other important projects. However, despite these commitments the park is still only 77 percent complete and the original 2005 deadline envisioned for completing the park is long past due. This year, Governor Cuomo is committing to fulfill his father’s nation-leading vision. The Governor will work with the city to make the phased and matched investments necessary to get the job done.  In addition, the State will continue to facilitate public-private partnerships, while ensuring the Estuary Management Plan is complete and the marine sanctuary is protected.

Protecting Our Clean Water

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has taken aggressive action to protect and preserve clean drinking water in New York to ensure that current and future generations of New Yorkers have access to clean water. In 2016, the Governor launched the Water Quality Rapid Response Team to swiftly identify and address drinking water quality issues across the state and in 2017, Governor Cuomo signed the Clean Water Infrastructure Act – a $2.5 billion investment in drinking water infrastructure and water quality protection across New York. Additionally, the Governor enacted the $400 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, secured a record $300 million investment for the Environmental Protection Fund, and provided $11 billion in Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund financing.

  • Fast-Track Containment and Treatment of the Grumman Plume: In Nassau County, industrial practices at the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Bethpage facilities in the Town of Oyster Bay have left a legacy of pollution in the form of a massive contaminated groundwater plume that has affected the surrounding community since the 1930s. At the Governor’s direction, the State Department of Environmental Conservation launched an engineering investigation to assess expedited cleanup options, including full containment of the plume, in order to ensure the contamination does not threaten additional drinking water wells. This year, the state will fast-track construction of a new, state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination and protect the quality of drinking water on Long Island and will use all legal tools at its disposal to hold the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman accountable for the construction and operation of the containment and treatment system.
  • Sue the EPA to Complete the Hudson River Cleanup: Governor Cuomo, in partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman, has committed to immediately take necessary steps to sue the EPA if the agency accepts the Upper Hudson River cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls as complete. In light of the overwhelming evidence and data that the remedy is not protective of human health and the environment, the EPA’s decision to certify the PCB remedy for the Upper Hudson River as complete is indefensible.  As the EPA continues to abdicate its responsibility, Governor Cuomo will fight to protect the river and the surrounding communities. New York is also prepared to withdraw from the 2002 Record of Decision, signed under a previous administration, which guided the cleanup and removal of millions of tons of PCB-contaminated sediment from the Upper Hudson River.
  • Attack Harmful Algal Blooms in New York’s Waters: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the state has taken comprehensive steps to address the growing threat of harmful algal blooms in New York’s waterbodies. This year, the Governor will implement a $65 million initiative to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York, focusing on 12 priority lakes that are especially vulnerable to HABs.
  • Require Expedited Corrective Actions at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility: Following visible releases of dark water discharges from the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility, Governor Cuomo directed the State Department of Environmental Conservation to hold the Niagara Falls Water Board accountable and to take actions to protect water quality at this iconic tourist attraction. To ensure that the Niagara Falls wastewater facility’s problems are resolved in a comprehensive fashion, Governor Cuomo will invest over $20 million to launch Phase One of the wastewater system overhaul to complete comprehensive infrastructure and operational improvements at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility. The Governor’s proposal also provides $500,000 to expedite two engineering studies to evaluate both the plant’s discharges and treatment systems, which are required by the new consent order with the Niagara Falls Water Board. 

LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has successfully established some of the nation’s strongest and most aggressive climate change policies. From Reforming the Energy Vision to setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, New York is leading the charge in the fight against climate change. In June 2017, Governor Cuomo formed the U.S. Climate Alliance with the Governors of California and Washington State to ensure that willing partners across the country continue to meet or exceed the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change. While the federal government abdicates its responsibility to lead on climate change, New York State will continue to step up to protect our environment, our health, and the future of our children.

  • Expand Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Reduce Emissions Equitably from the Highest-Polluting, High Demand “Peaker” Power Plants: In 2013, Governor Cuomo led the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states in reducing the cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants 50 percent by 2020. In August 2017, the other RGGI states agreed to Governor Cuomo’s 2017 State of the State call to reduce the cap another 30 percent by 2030.  In addition, Governor Cuomo has committed to phasing out the use of coal in the state’s power plants by 2020. In 2018, Governor Cuomo looks forward to working with the other RGGI states and potential new partners in Virginia and New Jersey to ensure a smooth transition to a broader, more cost-efficient GHG market that maintains the initiative’s ambitious reductions in climate pollution. The Department of Environmental Conservation will also undertake a rulemaking in 2018 to implement the 30 percent cap reduction announced by the RGGI states in August 2017, including revisions to strengthen RGGI by grouping together and thereby covering peaking units that collectively exceed RGGI’s capacity threshold of 25 megawatts, including revisions to strengthen RGGI by grouping together and thereby covering peaking units that collectively exceed RGGI’s capacity threshold of 25 megawatts. This year, DEC will also propose complementary reforms to reduce emissions of smog-forming pollutants from peaking units and will adopt regulations ending the use of coal in the state’s power plants by 2020.
  • Reconvene Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change Disbanded by the Federal Government: After announcing its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the federal government took another misguided step by disbanding the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, a group of leading scientists and stakeholders tasked with providing recommendations to the federal government to support state and local governments, communities and the private sector in planning for the effects of climate change. Therefore, Governor Cuomo, as co-chair of the U.S. Climate Alliance and in collaboration with partners, will reconvene the Advisory Committee to develop recommendations to navigate the challenges of climate change. As a result, the Advisory Committee will continue its critical work without political interference and provide the guidance needed to adapt to a changing climate.
  • Launch Resilient NY to Dramatically Enhance Community Resiliency in the Face of Extreme Weather: Following dozens of extreme weather events in New York State, Governor Cuomo has taken bold and aggressive action to ensure that communities affected by extreme weather not only recover, but build back better than before. This year, the Governor proposes to develop a comprehensive program to adapt to and prepare for extreme weather associated with climate change. This plan will address resiliency guidelines and will provide state financial support for state-of-the-art local resiliency plans to help protect communities from flooding.
  • Invest Nearly $130 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Proceeds in Clean Transportation Projects: At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the Department of Environmental Conservation is working with other state agencies and stakeholders to develop a plan to invest the $127.7 million available to New York from the settlement of Volkswagen’s violation of the Clean Air Act. All categories of investment will prioritize replacement of diesel vehicles with emission-free electric vehicles, stimulating the transformation to a low-carbon transportation system. With this strategic, comprehensive plan, New York State will seek to invest all of the Volkswagen settlement funds over the next three years.

ADVANCING THE DEMOCRACY AGENDA 

Protecting the Sanctity of Our Elections 

As proven in the 2016 election, social media is a highly utilized tool for placing and viewing political advertisements, yet political advertisements on social media platforms are not regulated in the same way as advertisements on traditional media platforms. This has created new opportunities for unscrupulous and disruptive actors to improperly influence our political process. This year, Governor Cuomo proposes the strongest and most comprehensive policy to ensure that elections in New York State remain fair and transparent and that online political ads are archived for all to see.

  • Increase Transparency in Digital Political Ads: To ensure the fairness and transparency of New York elections, Governor Cuomo is putting forth a three-pronged strategy to:
  • Expand New York State’s definition of political communication to include paid internet and digital advertisements: This proposal will update the definition of “political communication” to include paid internet and digital advertisements, and require that all advertisers include a disclosure in their election-related ads, such as “paid for by.”
  • Require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political advertisements purchased by a person or group for publication on the platform: Governor Cuomo proposes to require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political communications purchased by a person or group on their platform related to New York State elections. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.  This archive will ensure that political ads do not disappear, and that they are viewable, and able to be fact-checked, by a larger portion of the electorate.
  • Require online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate: Governor Cuomo proposes to amend state law so that paid internet or digital advertisements are included in the definition of political communications. This will help ensure that foreign entities are unable to covertly purchase and distribute political advertising related to state elections through social media or other outlets. Under the new law digital ad buyers will be required to register as an independent expenditure committee, just as they would if they were purchasing time on television. Foreign entities will be prohibited from forming an independent committee and, as a result, would be unable to purchase and publish political advertising online. Violations of these requirements would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each instance.
  • Institute Early Voting: Currently, New York is one of only 13 states where early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot. To make it easier for New Yorkers to vote, Governor Cuomo proposes instituting early voting in the state, requiring every county to offer residents access to at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day. Counties must have one early voting poll site for every 50,000 residents, and voters will have at least eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends to cast early ballots.
  • Adopt Automatic Voter Registration: To modernize the voter registration process, Governor Cuomo proposes adopting a system that implements automatic voter registration, streamlining state services by automatically sending voters’ information from relevant agencies directly to the County Board of Elections.
  • Allow Same-Day Voter Registration: New York does not currently allow voters to register to vote on Election Day. Governor Cuomo proposes to allow New Yorkers to register and vote on the same day so that onerous registration deadlines do not prevent New Yorkers from having the opportunity to participate in the electoral process.
  • Enhance Statewide Election Cyber Security Resilience and Defend Against Election Disruption: This year, the Governor proposes taking action to secure our democracy through bold steps to protect the state’s elections:
  • Create the Election Support Center: This will provide technical expertise and trainers to assist the State Board of Elections with developing regulations to enhance the cyber security of elections infrastructure; train county Boards of Elections members in cyber security best practices; and ensure that relevant threat intelligence is quickly distributed to local stakeholders.
  • Create and Deploy the Elections Cyber Security Support Toolkit: The toolkit includes a new suite of threat mitigation tools to ensure election security at the state and local levels. This will include log-in and network monitoring software and hardware services, Distributed Denial of Service defense, and change-detection software to ensure that all changes to voter databases are logged and monitored, and any discrepancies are identified, investigated and corrected in a timely manner. 

Increasing Transparency and Continuing Ethics Reform 

Since his first day in office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively for comprehensive ethics reform. Governor Cuomo’s advocacy began with the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 to increase transparency and accountability throughout State government. The Governor’s relentless efforts culminated with an historic agreement in 2016 with the Legislature to further advance critical election, lobbying, and enforcement reforms. This year, Governor Cuomo proposes a two-fold approach to ethics and good government reforms. His proposals will reiterate the continued need to address unresolved problems, shed sunlight on our political process and those who fund aspects of it, and will also identify new solutions to rebuild the trust and confidence that New Yorkers should have in their elected representatives.

  • Advance Constitutional Amendment Limiting Outside Income and Creating a Full-time Legislature: The Legislature’s part-time structure allows professionals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to serve the public. Yet concerns have been raised about potential conflicts of interests that may arise from income legislators derive from other employment. To strike the right balance between public service and private ventures, the Governor proposes a constitutional amendment to be put before the voters that would limit outside income for legislators to 15 percent of their base salary. This 15 percent limit is the same limit our federal government places on federal legislators’ outside income.
  • Advance Constitutional Amendment Imposing Term Limits for Elected Officials:Current term limits require members of the Legislature to seek re-election every two years, yet there are no limits on the number of terms they may seek. The Governor proposes a constitutional amendment to create 4-year legislative terms for members of the Senate and the Assembly. The proposed constitutional amendment would also impose 8-year term limits for new members, and impose term limits for statewide officials.
  • Require Members of the Legislature Seeking Outside Income to Obtain an Advisory Opinion Before Earning Outside Income: Currently legislators may earn income from private ventures without being required to obtain any analysis or approval regarding whether the outside income presents conflicts of interest with their duties to the public. As such, the Governor proposes legislation which would require all legislators to seek an advisory opinion from the legislative ethics commission before earning outside income. To further support in their deliberations and discussions regarding outside income and conflicts of interest and reinforce the public’s trust in the process, a designee from the Office of Court Administration would serve on the commission. By examining compensation from non-state activities on a case by case basis, this measure would help guide our elected representatives, prevent conflicts of interest, and increase the public’s trust in all their elected officials.
  • Close the LLC Loophole: To preserve open, free, and fair elections that are not captured by wealthy public interests, state law limits the amounts that both corporations and individuals may donate directly to state candidates. However, because of a quirk in the way that present election law is interpreted, wealthy individuals and corporations can use Limited Liability Companies (“LLCs”) to avoid New York’s campaign donation limits. This “LLC Loophole” in campaign finance law has allowed special interests to circumvent both contribution limits and disclosure requirements. The Governor proposes closing the LLC Loophole for all elected officials. It is our responsibility to even the playing field so that rich and poor New Yorkers alike have their voices heard in our political process.
  • Subject Local Elected Officials to Financial Disclosure Requirements: The Governor proposes that any local elected official who earns more than $50,000 per year in a government salary, as well as all county executives, county managers, and all chairs of county board of supervisors file the same financial disclosure statements that state employees file with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or a similar form to be approved by the state. This means that municipal employees would provide the same information in their financial disclosure statements as state employees, including his or her spouse’s or partner’s income. Sunlight, in this instance, goes a long way towards assuring the public that those entrusted with government service are fulfilling their duty to the public.
  • Institute Public Financing and Enact Additional Campaign Finance Reforms: Every day, ordinary New Yorkers struggle to make their voices heard in our political system. No matter the issue, candidates are incentivized to focus on large donations over small ones. The only way to truly fix this problem is to institute a public financing system for political campaigns that matches funds from small donations. Governor Cuomo proposes to do just that by instituting a voluntary public financing system that matches small donations with public funds. New York law also continues to allow unlimited contributions to party “housekeeping” accounts by individuals and corporations. These accounts are designed to support non-campaign party activities, but instead provide another mechanism for big donors to impact political campaigns. New York also still allows a campaign’s intermediary, known as a “bundler”, to pass large groupings of individual contributions to a single campaign without disclosing the bundler’s identify. The Governor proposes to address both issues by placing a $25,000 contribution limit on housekeeping accounts and requiring all “bundlers” to disclose their identities.
  • Promote Increased Transparency through Comprehensive Reforms to FOIL: The New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) governs the public’s right to access government records and provides transparency for citizens into the workings of state government. The Governor proposes a comprehensive reform of FOIL to improve transparency and promote openness in state government, including requiring proactive disclosure of certain records. But transparency cannot just be limited to the Executive—everyone must be held to the same standard. The Governor therefore proposes that FOIL apply equally to the Legislature. Additionally, the Governor proposes that both FOIL and the state’s Open Meetings Law apply to both JCOPE as well as the Legislative Ethics Commission to further ensure transparency, accountability, and increase public confidence in all aspects of state government.
  • Expand the Authority of the State Inspector General: The Governor proposes increasing the Inspector General’s jurisdiction to include oversight of nonprofit organizations and foundations that are created for the benefit of, or controlled by SUNY or CUNY. The Inspector General would be authorized to investigate complaints of corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse within each university and its affiliates, and to refer potential criminal findings within these entities for prosecution. The Governor also proposes broadening the Inspector General’s authority to include all state-related procurement and the implementation and enforcement of financial control policies at SUNY and CUNY. This would allow the Inspector General to oversee the policies of any affiliated nonprofit organization and foundation of each respective university.
  • Enact Procurement Reforms: Despite existing legal safeguards, conflicts of interest and unlawful conduct may jeopardize the impartiality and objectivity of the current procurement process. This risk is further heightened by the significant amount of dollars spent by state and local public agencies, which exceeds tens of billions of dollars annually. The Governor therefore proposes creating a Chief Procurement Officer to oversee the integrity and uniformity of procurement practices across the state and ensure state procurement staff are prepared and positioned to conduct effective and ethical procurements. To achieve these ends, the Chief Procurement Officer will spearhead a comprehensive review of current procurement practices across all state entities and relevant affiliates with the intent of establishing best practices and implementing uniform policies and procedures. Additionally, the Governor proposes new measures which would prohibit individuals, organizations or business entities that submit bids, quotes, or responses to state contract offers from making campaign contributions to any officeholder in the branch of government awarding the contract while the decision is pending, and for six months following the contract award.  Finally, under current practice, the Office of the State Comptroller, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of General Services either undertake reviews and audits or process payments of contract vendors and/or grantees that have multiple projects with the State. However, they lack a single system to track payments and audits of these entities and fail to coordinate their efforts on a routine basis. This should change. The Governor proposes legislation that will direct these entities, along with the Chief Procurement Officer and the Office of Information Technology, to collaborate on a study and make recommendations regarding initiatives to better enable the public to track state contracts and audits.

BUILDING A STRONGER, SAFER NEW YORK 

Governor Cuomo has consistently taken decisive action to ensure public safety for all New Yorkers. This past year, New Yorkers faced the devastating consequences of extreme weather and New York’s emergency response extended beyond our borders to support our neighbors. This year, the Governor proposes a public safety package that will build on the Governor’s legacy of fighting for the safety all of New Yorkers.

  • Establish the Strongest Counter Terrorism Program in the Nation: Governor Cuomo has taken significant action to fight terrorism and keep New Yorkers safe from new and emerging threats. In 2015, he launched the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, making New York the only state with the ability to report unusual behavior via text message. In 2016, the Governor directed the State Office of Counter Terrorism to test more than 600 businesses annually to determine if and how these organizations report suspicious activity.  In response to these new and evolving threats, the Governor recently announced a partnership with renowned counter terrorism experts to review the state’s security and issue recommendations for improvement. These recommendations will help New York State establish the strongest counter terrorism program in the nation, allowing the state to be better prepared to meet modern threats posed by terrorism. Further, they will provide recommendations to better protect our bridges, tunnels, trains, buses and airports, as well as our transit hubs at Penn Station and Grand Central Station. In the interim, Governor Cuomo is taking action to restrict terrorists’ capabilities and make it easier for New Yorkers to report suspicious activity. These actions will improve statewide security and strengthen counter terrorism policies, procedures, and tactics. Governor Cuomo will take additional actions to further secure the state, including:
    • Expand Vehicle Rental Regulations: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to require any person attempting to rent a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds to present a valid driver’s license and an additional form of identification to the company in order to obtain the keys. This will ensure that individuals attempting to rent a vehicle are who they say they are and will help prevent any attempted deception to conceal a renter’s identity for malicious purposes.
      • Launch a Terrorism Tip Line: Building off the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, New York will work with the Public Service Commission to establish a first of its kind three-digit tip line dedicated to reporting terrorist threats and suspicious activity. This three-digit line will make it easier for New Yorkers to recall the event they witness and encourage further reporting to prevent a potential terrorist act.
      • Develop a School Safety Response System to Ensure First Responders Have Real-Time Access to the Blueprints of Every School in New York State: Governor Cuomo has led the charge to protect New Yorkers from gun violence and acts of terror. In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the Governor championed the toughest and smartest gun legislation in the nation, and he has pushed to strengthen security measures across the state. This year, for example, the Governor announced a $25 million grant program for critical hardening of infrastructure for non-profits, non-public schools, day care centers, and cultural centers to increase security, and last year, the Governor provided $10 million to local law enforcement agencies for equipment purchases to improve police officer safety and response capabilities. Still, the threat of mass violence and shootings continues to plague the country. In the coming year, the State will explore new technology options for a school safety response system that may include real-time “blue team” GPS tracking and direct lines of communication for all response personnel. The State will also ensure that all schools in New York State are mapped both internally and externally so first responders can enter with greater certainty about where they are going, where threats may exist, and where victims may be hiding.  This information will enable them to operate around new and unfamiliar locations with certainty and speed to rapidly save as many lives as possible.

 

NYS Governor Cuomo Outlines 2018 Agenda Aimed at Realizing Promise of Progressive Government

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers the 2018 State of the State with an expansive progressive agenda of specific proposals for social, economic, environmental and political justice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The Governor’s far-reaching 2018 agenda proposes to deliver on the promise of progressive government by advancing a slate of critical social and economic policies which Cuomo said would improve the lives of New Yorkers. The bold agenda, articulated with specifics rather than rhetorical flourishes, includes a full package of legislative reforms, robust investments in infrastructure, the environment and renewable energy, and targeted actions – from a comprehensive women’s rights agenda to a first-in-the-nation plan to fight the federal tax assault to nation-leading criminal justice reforms – that will increase opportunity for New Yorkers and ensure the Empire State continues to serve as a beacon of equality, unity and fairness for the nation.

However, Cuomo warned of the challenges the state faces in realizing these policies because of a $4 billion shortfall in the budget, combined with an additional $2 billion loss in federal aid, and on top of that, the Republican tax plan which severely curtails the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), effectively cutting New Yorkers’ incomes by a further 20-25%, likely putting downward pressure on housing costs, and discouraging businesses from locating here – in effect, overturning the progress the Governor has made in lowering taxes and promoting economic development and business in the state. Indeed, the state has seen a record 1 million new jobs in the past six years, the highest level of jobs. He challenged federal actions – both threatening legal challenge to the double-taxation on state and local taxes, and threatening law suit against the Environmental Protection Agency should it pronounce the clean-up of the Hudson River by General Electric to be complete.

Highlights of the Governor’s 2018 Agenda include:

  • Keeping New York Economically Competitive
  • Upholding the New York Promise
  • Expanding Educational Opportunity for All
  • Continuing Economic Opportunity and Growth Under NY Works
  • Providing A Cleaner, Greener and Healthier New York: The Wellness Agenda 
  • Leading the Fight Against Climate Change
  • Advancing the Democracy Agenda
  • Building a Stronger, Safer New York

 The Governor’s 2018 Policy Book is available here. More information is available here.

AUDIO of Governor Cuomo’s remarks is available here.

Here is a highlighted transcript of the Governor’s remarks: — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Thank you very, very much. Welcome to Albany. Happy New Year to all. It may be a great one for all of us. First, to the Reverend and the Rabbi, who I thought they were just extraordinary in their blessings and in their invocation, let’s give them a round of applause.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge my partners in government, we start with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, let’s give her a round of applause. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Speaker Carl Heastie. Leader Klein. Leader Stewart Cousins. Leader Kolb. We have with us today our Court of Appeals judges and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, let’s give them a round of applause. It’s not that they are unhappy, the judges, it’s just by protocol they don’t applaud for anything. I didn’t realize that the first couple of years, but now I got it. Let’s give them another round of applause for not applauding for anything.

My friends, looking back, 2017 was a tough year by any measure, but New Yorkers once again rose to the occasion. We had frightening incidents of terrorism in New York City. As Mayor Bill de Blasio well knows. But we have the best police and first responders in the country and some of them are here today. Let’s give them a round of applause. Let’s see you stand please.

We also had anti-Semitic threats to Jewish Community Centers across the state. The state stood with them, we were supportive, but the operators were heroic and they refused to yield to intimidation. And they’re here with us today. Let them know that we stand with them in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters around the state and we applaud their heroism. Please stand.

Mother Nature has tested us it seems time and time and time again. 2017, we saw flooding on Lake Ontario like we had never seen before. We saw flooding along the St. Lawrence River, we saw it in the Mohawk Valley, we had wind storms in Rochester, and we had frigid temperatures all across the state. Once again, our state employees were there for us, and we have some of them here today – the Department of Transportation, Office of General Services, the Thruway Authority and our first responders. Let’s give them a round of applause and thank them.

They’re forecasting another possible snowstorm on Thursday on Long Island, which will once again see County Executive Bellone and now our new County Executive Laura Curran out there. And I can promise you County Executive, all of the glamour of the inauguration will be gone at the first snowstorm. My advice, gloves and boots, gloves and boots. Let’s give the new County Executive a round of applause.

And my friends, Mother Nature saved her worst fury not for New York, but for Puerto Rico. I’m proud of the help that New Yorkers offered to the people of Puerto Rico. It was bipartisan, it was all across the state of New York. We asked for donations, the outpouring was incredible. Tons of materials were donated from New Yorkers. We asked for volunteers and they came in every possible way. We had the National Guard, we had health care workers from 1199, from the Greater New York Hospital Association, from the New York State Nurses Association. We had utility workers from all across the state. I went down on one visit – 500 utility workers. More utility workers from New York than from any other place, literally getting the power back on. We had the New York Power Authority that did a great job, UNICEF did a great job, they all came together, but we want the people of Puerto Rico to know, who are still suffering today, 60 percent still without power today. We want the people of Puerto Rico to know that New York will stand by them through their recovery every step along this journey. We are their friends. We are their brothers and sisters. Somos uno, somos uno, somos uno – we will be there for Puerto Rico.

Today marks the eight time that I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the State of the State. Serving as your Governor has been the privilege of my life. Especially as I have had the good fortune to serve with legislatures who have the political will and the talent to tackle the great issues – and we have. The history books will show that thanks to the actions of the officials assembled here today, our state has made unprecedented progress. Our economy is stronger today and we are once again the nation’s beacon for social progress. As Governor Al Smith used to say, “let’s look at the record.” Well the record says that crime is down statewide, we have a cleaner environment, we have a fairer criminal justice system, we have more high school graduates who are attending colleges, we have preserved more land than ever before, enacted a more progressive tax code, launched the most ambitious building program in the country. We have also made historic investments in education, health care and economic development. Upstate New York is no longer treated as the forgotten stepchild of Albany, the way it was for so many years. And my friends, state government is back. It is reengaged as a vital partner in progress in every region of the state of New York. And, they got ahead of me – we ended the drought in Buffalo, returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, “Go Bills! Go Bills! Go Bills!”

We have honored the tax payer and achieved historic fiscal discipline. For the first time in 50 years, thanks to the Assembly and the Senate, we passed seven timely, responsible budgets. Just think about that. With our 2 percent fiscal discipline, we actually did more with less and it’s working. Every New Yorker’s tax rate is lower today than when I took office. We have the highest credit rating in 40 years, unemployment is down from 8.3 percent to 4.7 percent and down in every single region of the state of New York. Because my friends the greatest success is shared success, and today, New York State has 8.1 million private sector jobs – the highest number of jobs in history of the state of New York, period.

In fact, our record is even better. Listen to this: you will be pleased and proud to know that we have created more jobs than any administration in 75 years. Look at this chart from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics – we created 1 million new jobs in 6 plus years. Since Governor Dewey was elected in 1942, no state administration has created more jobs – or a higher percentage of jobs or created jobs faster.

Congratulations. That is your economic record and that is truly a record to be proud of.

Now, you’ll notice on the chart that Governor Mario Cuomo’s numbers are redacted. There is no constitutional or legal or regulatory reason that would justify that redaction. However, I did that for a couple of reasons: First, because my mother is here, and if I ever compared myself to my father and said I had a better set of numbers, I could never go home again. It would be that simple. You don’t know my mother. It would be no meatballs for Andrew. That would be it. God forbid Chris became the favorite son, that would really be terrible. Even I don’t think she could go that far. Second, because if I compared myself with my father, you would see a lightning bolt strike me dead where I am. And also I didn’t include his numbers because in my opinion there is no comparison of any Governor to Governor Mario Matthew Cuomo.

Besides all of these fiscal accomplishments and more jobs than ever before, we have also accomplished something else. We have vindicated the promise of progressive government. Because progressive government requires citizen confidence and management competence. Progressive leaders must be dreamers and doers; visionaries and achievers. We followed FDR’s progressive philosophy. Real change for real people in real time.

My father’s philosophy: he called himself a “pragmatic progressive” – restoring confidence in government by actually delivering practical accomplishments: people need food, people need housing, people need education, people need justice – they don’t need theoretical progressive politics, they need practical politics, actual politics, that makes a difference in their lives because they’re suffering today and they need life made better for them.

And that my friends, is what we have done – marriage equality, paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, gun safety, the climate coalition, and MWBE. No other state has done what we have done – we are once again the nation’s vanguard for social progress and you should feel good and proud about that accomplishment.

My friends, you should feel confident in our ability as a government to do what many believe can’t be done. Because you have done it over and over and over again. And we have been told over and over again, we can’t do it, it’s too hard. But we did it. And we will need that confidence, because 2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history. And the job you’re going to have to do may be the job the hardest job done by any legislative body to sit in modern political history. We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level. And with these challenges at this moment, requires stark candor and bold action. We are facing a three front war.

First, we have the old challenges of discrimination and sexism that have plagued society for years but have recently been exposed for their prevalence and virulence. Society has rightly expressed its outrage. But outrage is not enough. Enlightened government must seize the moment to attack these social diseases that are long institutionalized and culturalized and end them once and for all. Women and minorities still face abuse and prejudice. We must acknowledge it, we must stamp it out, and we must stamp it out here and now.

Second, we face new challenges threatening our safety and quality of life: terrorism, climate change, environmental threats including to our drinking water, and the growing opioid epidemic, a scourge across our state, that claimed more than 3,000 lives just last year.

And lastly, we have federal and economic challenges never experienced before. They threaten the essence of our economy. 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.

Just think about it, while we here in this state together have been working on economic and social progress, our federal government is working to roll back so much of what we have done.

They’re trying to roll back New York’s position as an economic leader. They’re trying to roll back a woman’s right to choose. They’re trying to roll back environmental protection. They’re trying to roll back healthcare for the poor, to roll back access to college loans, to roll back LGBTQ rights, to roll back labor’s right to organize, to roll back our historic tax cuts that we have done over these past seven years and with DACA, to roll back an immigrant child’s opportunity to be an American. We cannot, we must not let those things happen in the great State of New York.

Thank you. Let us start our agenda by addressing the first challenge first. The old, ugly, persistent problems of sexism, racism and homelessness. The most important element of New York’s social process agenda is equality. It is guaranteed by the constitution and our belief in human rights. Our country is finally taking a long look in the mirror as to how we treat women, and we are disgusted with what we see. We should be. Our challenge is to now turn society’s revulsion into reform. Carpe diem, to seize the day. To learn, to grow, to change. That’s what we did with gun violence after Sandy Hook, that’s what we did with sexual assault on college campuses, that’s what we should do now after the exposure of the abuse of the women in this society. New York should lead the way once again. And we will.

I begin, again, by proposing that no taxpayer funds should be used to pay for any public official’s sexual harassment or misconduct – period. It is the bad act of the individual, let the individual pay. I propose that no state or local government enter into a secret nondisclosure agreement. We can protect a victim’s identity and privacy but the taxpayers have a right to know that that agreement exists and that their funds were used to pay for that agreement. I propose that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications they have had and the number of nondisclosure agreements they have executed. I propose that the State of New York pension funds only be invested in companies that the Comptroller determines have adequate female and minority representation in management or on the board of directors to constitute good corporate leadership. Personally, I believe a company cannot have good management by definition if it effectively excludes women and minorities. I propose the legislature enact the contraceptive care act and finally, finally, finally pass Roe v. Wade. I propose the legislature pass a government-wide independent and anonymous whistle blower process so victims are free to communicate complaints without fear of retaliation. I propose that we really seize the opportunity. That New York enact a strict, new, uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all state employees and in all branches, in all authorities, all agencies, and on all local governments and set a new national standard of respect for women — and we set the bar high.

Let New York State stand and say we are not the state of denial – we acknowledge the longstanding bias and abuse against women – and New York says it stops, it stops now, and we will show you the way forward for other governments and industry to follow and that is the New York way.

The truth is racism and discrimination still exist. When I was in HUD, I sued the Ku Klux Klan for televised racist assaults – men with hoods – spewing venom. Today it is often more insidious. Discrimination is marbleized throughout our society and government.

As a starting point, we must ensure the people of our state that our democratic foundation – which is our justice system – is in fact, just. I spoke to this in my father’s eulogy and promised him we would improve the failings in our justice system and we will. We have made many reforms over the past few years, no doubt, but we have more to do. Let’s be painfully honest. The truth is that our Lady Justice is still not color blind and her scales are still not balanced. Our bail system is biased against the poor, too many jails are cruel and inhumane, and our court system is too slow. That is the painful truth.

To begin, our jails are filled with people who should not be incarcerated. Punishment is supposed to be imposed when one is found guilty. Incredibly 75 percent of the people in New York City jails have not been convicted of any crime. A similar story exists in other jails across the state. The blunt ugly reality is that too often, if you can make bail you are set free and if you are too poor to make bail you are punished. We must reform our bail system so a person is only held if a judge finds either a significant flight risk or a real threat to public safety. If so, they should be held in preventive detention whether they are rich or poor, black or white – but if not, they should be released on their own recognizance whether they are rich or poor, black or white. That is only fair. Race and wealth should not be factors in our justice system. It’s that clear.

We also need discovery reform and speedy trial reform. We need to move cases faster. We have people sitting in jails for years waiting to be heard. Trial parts must operate from 9 to 5 – no more half days – and a judge’s performance must be an essential criterion in advancement. Judicial vacancies must be filled on a timely basis. The backlog must be cleared and we must address it in this year’s budget. Because it just takes too long to try a case now. To compound this injustice, people are held in facilities and under conditions that we would condemn as human rights violations if they were occurring in another country. Our tolerance for the ongoing injustice is repugnant to our position as a progressive government. Some jails in our state have long records of violations that continue for years. We have been too complacent about the suffering of the powerless and voiceless. That is the truth.

A gentleman named Kalief Browder, an African American, spent three years in Rikers waiting for his day in court to be heard on his charge for allegedly stealing a backpack. Three years waiting to be heard for the charge of stealing a backpack. He was 16 years old. His abuse while jailed was so traumatic Kalief Browder ultimately determined taking his life was the only way to stop his continuing pain. Akeem Browder, Kalief’s brother, is here with us today, and I would ask him to stand. Akeem, I want you to know that your brother did not die in vain. Sometimes the Lord works in strange ways – but he opened our eyes to the urgent need for real reform. The state correction law authorizes the State to regulate local jails. We must act with a new urgency to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers – New Yorkers who have been too long neglected. It is a state-wide problem and we will address it. It’s a statewide problem and we will address it and you have my word on that. I am directing the State Corrections Commission to develop legally binding corrective action plans or closure orders on jails that are out of compliance because enough is enough, we will not continue to endure this abuse. Thank you for being here. Thank you. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, justice too long delayed is justice denied and that is not our New York. Thank you for being here Akeem and we will make it right. Give Akeem a big round of applause.

Akeem, I want you to know that your brother did not die in vain. Sometimes the lord works in strange ways, but he opened our eyes to the urgent need for real reform. The state correction law authorizes the state to regulate local jails. We must act with a new urgency to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers, New Yorkers who have been too long neglected. It’s a state wide problem, and we will address it and you have my word on that. I am directing the State Corrections Commission to develop legally binding corrective action plans for closure orders on jails that are out of compliance because enough is enough. We will not continue to endure this abuse. Thank you for being here, thank you. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied” and that is not our New York. Thank you for being here Akeem, and we will make it right. You just watch. Give Akeem a big round of applause.

While nationwide minority and women owned businesses lag behind the norm, here in New York our MWBE program is a model for the nation. However, our local governments have not been as progressive, no local government in the state has even approached our NWBE performance. Let’s extend our MWBE goals to follow with all state funding dollars’ direct state spending and spending through local governments, make our goals a reality, and bring economic justice to all.

Our minority youth voucher program provides private employment training subsidies, it works. Unemployment among our young minority men and women has decreased 8 percent from 25 percent – 17 percent. That is great news. Go to the Bronx and let our Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. show you the 8,000 young people minority men and women who are now employed, earning their own way, and off the streets. Let him also buy your lunch while you’re there. Let’s expand it this year to serve 8,000 more young people and fund my Brother’s Keeper to make opportunity and hope a reality for all.

Homelessness is on the rise in our cities and worse than ever before, it pains me personally to acknowledge this reality. I began my public work at 26 running a not-for-profit to help homeless families. East New York that’s where I was. It became the largest in the nation. My sister Maria is with us here today who runs it now. In 1992 Mayor David Dinkins’ Homelessness Commission. When I was HUD Secretary we completed President Bill Clinton’s plan to solve homelessness. We always believed that this was a momentary problem. That it was just an anomaly, that this could not go on, and in many places in the country and in New York there was much progress, but now the problem has come back with a vengeance. The homeless numbers are at record highs. And looking forward with the Federal Government threatening to cut funding for homeless programs, it will only get worse, we must act. The most difficult issue is homeless people on the streets. The ultimate need we know is affordable housing and supporting housing and our budget has historic state commitment in these areas. But it is also an issue for our philosophy and expectations. We have grown too accepting. I’m old enough to remember that at one time there were no homeless people on the streets, it doesn’t have to be that way. What does it say about us as a society? That we now pass men and women lying on the streets with the same ease that we pass light poles and mailboxes. It has become a part of our new normal but it is abnormal and it is wrong. We must remember that while we aggressively protect the individual’s civil liberties, we believe in helping people in need. Leaving a sick person to fend for themselves in not progressive, charitable, ethical, or legal.

We should hold ourselves to a higher standard. It is our obligation as a caring people, a compassionate society, to reach out and provide whatever social services or address whatever needs the individuals presents. That is our job. New York State will ensure that every local government is effectively reaching out to homeless people or they will not receive state funding. Period. I’m also directing the MTA and Port Authority, Centro, CDTA, the RGRTA, the NFTA and all our cities to do the same. We must do more and we must do better. Yes, we have outreach programs that currently exist, but the numbers are going up, which means the job we’re doing isn’t good enough.

Now, some jurisdictions can say case law prevents them from helping mentally ill street homeless. If that is their excuse, they should tell us what law stops from helping sick homeless people and we will change the law this session. But let’s end this sad, societal failure. Let’s show our children this is not who we are as a society. This is not how we treat human beings. We are better than this, we are stronger than this, we are smarter than this and we are more compassionate than this. Let’s end this nightmare once and for all and let’s do it this year.

With all we have to do as a government, it is more important than ever that we have the public’s trust. I know the legislature feels that we have done much on ethics reform and they are right. I k now they feel that whatever we do, it will never be enough in this political atmosphere and they may be right, but we must do more anyway. The single best ethics reform is to ban outside income, remove any possibility for conflict and let legislators say ‘I work for the public. Period. And there are no possible conflicts presented.

Step two in our agenda is to focus on the new problems – rise in terrorism, environmental change, the opioid crisis, the federal threat to the labor movement and the distortion and manipulation of our elections by big donors, foreign money and social media advertising and the alienation of our citizens. We start with protecting the environment and recognizing the growing threats to our drinking water. The growing concentration of chemicals and pollution in some areas is literally poisoning the water. In upstate New York, in the beautiful lakes of upstate New York, we now have a toxic algae that is spreading and is literally endangering the drinking water. On Long Island, there’s something they call the Grumman Plume which is the discharge from the old Grumman factory that carries 30 years of industrial stains and contaminants and it’s literally moving to the south shore of Long Island where it will poison thousands of homes. We must attack these growing health threats now because we will not poison our children. We’ve been talking about them for years. No more procrastination, let’s resolve these issues and let’s do it this year.

We call an end to any investment in fossil fuel related activities in the pension fund and we’re going to work with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli because the future of the environment, the future of the economy and the future of our children is all in clean technology and we should put our money where our mouth is. Let’s give the Comptroller a big round of applause and thank him for his great work.

Last year, we announced one of the largest offshore wind projects in the nation. This year, I’m proud to announce that we will be putting out two RFPs for at least 800 megawatts in offshore wind power. Enough wind power to power 400,000 New York State households with clean energy. That is a great and clean step forward. We’re excited about it. I hope you are too.

The Hudson River is one of our greatest and most scenic waterways in the nation. For many years, General Electric polluted the river with PCBs. There has been progress made in cleaning it up, but the job is not done. So if the federal government releases GE saying the cleanup is complete. I’ll tell you what this State is going to do. We’re going to sue the federal government to stop it because we will not end our efforts until our future generations can once again fully enjoy the beautiful Hudson River.

Nationwide we are witnessing a shocking phenomenon. We are dying younger. Last year, life expectancy for Americans declined for the second year in a row, the first time that has happened in 50 years. The reason? A staggering 21 percent increase in drug overdoses. For Americans under 50 years old, drug overdoses, mostly opioid-related, are the leading cause of death. We must face it head on. We are committed to a comprehensive solution: more prevention, more education, more enforcement, more treatment. But we also want to advance a new approach this year, the ultimate follow the supply chain strategy. Big corporations may own Washington, but they don’t own New York.

The opioid crisis was manufactured, literally and figuratively. Unscrupulous distributors developed a $400 billion industry selling opioids, and they were conveniently blind to the consequences of their actions. They pumped these pills into society. And they created addictions. Like the tobacco industry, they killed thousands, and they did it without warning. We will make them pay for their illegal and reprehensible conduct. We will sue them, and we will stop the spread of opioids because too many innocent lives have been lost and the time for action is now before we lose another single life.

A case before Washington’s Supreme Court seeks to effectively end public labor unions. We will await the decision in the Janus case, but we must do all in our power to protect collective bargaining, the right to organize, and preserve workers’ rights.

We believe labor unions have built the middle class and we are proud that New York State has the highest percentage of union workers in the country. Today let us all pledge that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our union brothers and sisters in this fight and we will not give up and we will protect union workers in the State of New York. We stand in solidarity and we will not lose.

Thank you.

At this time of citizen alienation and outrage, the best thing we can do is let people know that their voice is heard, that they matter and that they can and they should vote. And we should make voting easier, not harder, with same day registration, no fault absentee ballots and early voting.

We should increase trust by closing the LLC loophole and open up the electoral process with public financing, but not our current public financing system that has public financing but private loopholes. I mean a true public financing system in which the exception does not swallow the rule. That’s what we need to do to regain the trust of the citizens in this state and across this nation.

Social media has revolutionized our elections. While we respect the freedom of the internet, it cannot subvert the law. Foreign countries like Russia and big anonymous donors cannot jeopardize our democracy. Social media must disclose who or what pays for political advertising because sunlight is still the best disinfectant.

Disclosure must apply to social media the same way that it applies to a newspaper ad or a TV ad or a radio ad. Anything else is a scam and a perversion of the law and an affront to democracy. Let’s stop this abuse, and while Washington talks about it and dithers, let New York lead the way and address this challenge and let’s do it this session.

Terrorism is morphing in unpredictable ways. The internet now provides easy access to ISIS instruction manuals, and lone wolves are a new threat. It is getting worse not better. The internet companies must search their hearts and minds to determine their obligation to public safety when they know who is visiting terrorist sites, and they know who is learning to kill Americans. That is their issue. In the meantime, our issue is to protect ourselves. Now the state owns many of the places of potential vulnerability, our bridges, tunnels, trains, buses and airports, our transit hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central.

Our transportation system must be better protected, and we must do it now. We have had warning. The past incidents shook everyone to the bone. We don’t need to understand anymore. We will do just that. In this year’s budget, we will do just that with more and better trained police and more state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, because government’s number one job is to protect its people, and we will do exactly that.

Penn Station is especially vulnerable. The most heavily traveled transit hub in the hemisphere. More people go through Penn Station every year than go through Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Airports combined. On top of the volume, the architecture and configuration of Penn is substandard. I call it the seven levels of catacombs. They don’t like when I say that, but it’s true. I have directed ESD, the MTA, and the Port Authority to work on a redevelopment plan with the neighboring private building owners so that we can restructure and rebuild Penn Station. They are cooperative and understand our needs and support our goal. We are now constructing a new Penn Station Farley Moynihan Train Hall right across the street. As that becomes operational, that will give us a flexibility to move operations from the old Penn to the new Farley. So we’re going to be coordinating with Amtrak, federal government, city officials to accelerate this comprehensive redevelopment project, which will improve the operation, the aesthetics and the security systems in Penn. The threat of terrorism is real. I take it very seriously as one of my prime responsibilities as Governor of this state. There is no time for politics, bureaucracy or delay. The State has the power of eminent domain for just such a purpose. We must make Penn better. We must make it safer. We must coordinate with all our partners, but we must do it now. There is no time for politics. There is no time for politics. No time for delay. We must fix Penn and we must fix it now.

Cashless tolling has been a great success at our downstate bridges and tunnels. It’s not just faster for the commuter and better for the environment. It’s also more secure. The new electronic toll structures are designed with state-of-the-art homeland security devices. They also have license plate readers. Police are on site and are electronically notified in three seconds of a violation or a suspicious plate from the license plate reader. It’s in place. It works. It works very well. Today we call on the Port Authority to do the same and install cashless tolling and security equipment on their crossings – the George Washington Bridge, the Outerbridge, Bayonne and Goethals Bridges, Holland, and Lincoln Tunnels. Let’s have the same cleaner environment, faster commute and more security on those Port Authority passings. And let the world know that they may consider New York a premier target but it is also the best protected state on the globe.

That’s the fact. We must improve the New York City subway system. We’ve failed to maintain an engineering marvel that was a gift from our forefathers. Our 100-year-old system needs an overhaul. We have 40-year-old subway cars and 80-year-old electric signals. Hurricane Sandy accelerated the decline because salt water and electric currents are a corrosive cocktail. Now, there is no mystery, we have to fix the system. We know how to fix the system. It’s a question of funding. We need short-term funding this year to do emergency repairs and to install the new technology for a long-term solution. We also need long-term funding that is fair to all and also addresses the growing traffic and population problems. The Fix New York Panel will shortly present a report that will have several options for the legislature to consider. We will have new technology installed which will offer a variety of alternatives, defining an exclusive zone in Manhattan where additional charges could be paid. These are difficult choices, but difficult choices do not get easier by ignoring them. They only get harder. And in the meantime, cheap political slogans are just that—cheap political slogans. It’s not a real policy or policy discussion. And that’s what we need. Santa Claus did not visit the State Capitol this year. I was watching. Funding must be provided in a very tight budget and funding must be provided this session because the riders have suffered for too long, politics has gone on for too long, and we can’t leave our riders stranded anymore—period.

Our third challenge is in many ways the greatest. The budgetary and economic challenges we face short-term and long-term compounded by the federal assault on New York. This is literally going to define the future of this state. President Ford may have metaphorically told New York to drop dead in 1975—but this federal government is the most hostile and aggressive toward New York in history. It has shot an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart. We must start this year with a $4 billion deficit compounded by a $2 billion cut primarily from the federal government and health care.

Even worse, the federal tax bill reshapes the nation’s economy. Their plan is trickle down on steroids. It didn’t work in the 80’s and it won’t work now. The rich will no doubt get richer, but if the federal government really wanted to help workers, which is what they said all along, that they wanted to help workers, they wanted to help the middle class, if that’s what they wanted to do, then the law they passed would have mandated that the corporations tax cut windfall go to pay workers higher wages or go to create jobs. That’s what they would have done. When you write a law, you write a law to do what you want it to do. They didn’t include any of that in their tax ball, and the omission speaks volumes. This tax cut handed rich corporations a blank check. And now even federal Republican senators are criticizing this. All this will do is increase income inequality, and the pain and the frustration and the anger of our middle class, and our poor.

And at the same time, Washington has launched an all-out direct attack on New York state’s economic future by eliminating full deductibility of state and local taxes. What this is going to do, is this effectively raises middle class and working family’s property tax 20 to 25 percent all across the state. It raises their state income tax 20 to 25 percent all across the state. There is no conceivable justification. New York is already the number one donor state in the nation. We pay $48 billion more to Washington than we get back. No state contributes more to the federal government and gets back less than New York State. On top of that injustice, Washington’s tax plan now uses New York and California as piggy banks to finance tax cuts for Republican states. New York will pay an additional $14 billion on top of the $48 billion that we currently pay. Remember the old adage robbing Peter to pay Paul. Well they changed it. You’re now robbing the blue states to pay for the red states.

It is crass, it is ugly, it is divisive, it is partisan legislating, it is an economic civil war. And make no mistake, they are aiming to hurt us. This could cause people to leave the state of New York. And it could reduce our ability to attract business. We must take dramatic action to save ourselves and preserve our state’s economy. We have a three-point strategy to address the federal assault. 

First—we believe it is illegal, and we will challenge it in court as unconstitutional.

Thank you, thank you.

We will challenge it in court as unconstitutional, the first federal double taxation in history, violative of state’s rights and the principle of equal protection. And let’s thank the Attorney General and give him a round of applause for his good work in representing us.

Second—we will lead the resistance to this injustice and start our own repeal and replace effort. Launching a tax fairness for all campaign. We begin today and we will not stop until economic justice is restored for every state and every taxpayer in the state of New York. In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, “we have not yet begun to fight,” my friends.

Third – as Washington has shot an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart, the best plan is to get out of the way before it hits. So we are exploring the feasibility of a major shift. Different states have different tax structures. Some use a gross receipts tax. Some have a severance tax. We are developing a plan to restructure our tax code to reduce reliance on our current income tax system and adopt a statewide payroll tax system. Now, payroll taxes are legal, the federal government currently has a payroll tax system. We’re also exploring creating additional charitable organizations so that contributions to those charitable organizations would be tax deductible. And we’re also addressing the Wall Street giveaway called the carried interest loophole, which is another device to give away revenue to people who don’t need it.

We are working with our legislative partners and with our local government partners, we’re discussing this restructuring and you’ll hear more about it in our budget presentation. It is complicated, it is difficult, but it is clear that we must protect New York taxpayers from this assault. And it is clear that we must not allow big corporations to enjoy a windfall at the expense of our middle class and our working families.

It’s not going to be easy, it is going to be complicated, but I believe working together we will get it done because working together we must get it done to represent in good faith, the people of our great state. And I look forward to making it a reality with all of us, together. Because life is options, and on this one it’s simple: we have no choice. If we do not fix this problem, it is a question of the State of New York’s economic viability in the long term. It’s a question of our competitiveness, long term. And preserving the strength of New York State and New York State’s economy at a time when we have a federal government that is giving other states a structural competitive advantage against us. We’re not going to let that happen. We are New York State, we have faced challenges internationally, domestically, and the threat from this federal government is not going to derail the great State of New York, that I promise you.

And it’s important as we face this next year, which is going to be a tough year, it’s important that you remember that we are up to the challenge. We forget all the good work that we have done. We forget all the times we’ve been told, no you can’t and we show that we can. We’re going to do the same thing this year. In the meantime, we need to do a fiscal plan for this year in this budget. And the best way forward is to continue the same path that we have been on. Our philosophy rests on two pillars: economic growth and social progress. And we must maintain those New York priorities. We must continue our historic investment in public education and expand three and four-year-old pre-K and after school and computer sciences because our greatest asset is our young people and everything we do is for their future. We must address education funding inequities and dedicate more of our state school aid to poorer districts. This year, we should even take it a step further and make sure that the local education districts that we’re giving the grants to are distributing the aid to their poorer schools because that’s the point. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, nor does trickle-down education funding. Local districts must give more funding to their poorer schools, period. That’s only right. And that’s only fair.

We must continue our investment in healthcare. We must preserve the Medicaid program and the CHP program, health insurance for poor children. Because in New York, healthcare is not just for the rich, it’s a human right. And we’re going to protect it. And we’re going to preserve it. And we’re going to keep our healthcare industry in New York strong, and vibrant, and the economic engine of public service that it is.

We have been, we are, the nation’s leader in building infrastructure. And the infrastructure is growing our economy. We’re ahead of every other state in the nation in terms of infrastructure development. And we must increase our advantage this year and double-down on our investments.

We also must continue our groundbreaking social progress to advance equality and opportunity for all. Because we are all immigrants and we are all equal under the eyes of god and the laws of New York. We can and must achieve all these goals and we will.

On the economy, our economic focus is going to remain on helping working men and women by continuing our Middle Class Recovery Act. We start by giving them immediate relief, not with words, not with slogans, but with actions and cutting taxes for the middle class. From 6.45 to 5.5 for those making 40 to 150 and from 6.65 to 6 percent for those making 150 to 300. My friends, this is going to be the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947. That is so long ago that even I wasn’t alive then.

While the federal government is making college less affordable, we must expand our Excelsior Free College Program that helps children of our anxious middle class and tells every child in New York, their dreams can be realized and their future can be brighter. That if they get into college, they will not be denied because they can’t afford it because they are children of the Family of New York, rich or poor, we will pay their tuition.

And in the same spirit, we must include our young new immigrants and we must pass the Dream Act this year.

We must continue to attack the highest tax burden in the state. Not a state tax, but the cost of local government. Our local property tax. Railed against by FDR, repeatedly. Who actually prophesized the growing local property tax was going to be a major economic problem for the state. And it is. Property taxes now are nearly three times what the state income tax is. Our property taxes have long been an obstacle to growth but today, the federal SALT provision, it is an economic cancer. Property taxes have just been raised by the federal tax plan 20 to 25 percent. It will be an unbearable financial burden for many. Look at the response already. Last week we announced an emergency executive order on Long Island allowing people to prepay their property taxes. Thousands and thousands of New Yorkers stood on lines for hours in frigid temperatures to prepay next year’s property taxes so they could get the deduction. All across the state. That’s the level of fear, that people would go to that extent. That’s what we’re dealing with. We must increase the efforts by local governments to reduce costs. I know it’s politically difficult. I know in every town, in every village everyone has their own fiefdom, their own rights, their own obligations. But I also know it’s a matter of economic survival. We know it can be done. Last year for the first time we said to county executives, you bring all those local governments together and you put them in one room and you talk to each other and you come up with a plan to save funding. And you know what? They did it. They stepped up. 34 counties submitted plans that will lead to more than 200 million dollars in savings. But, we must do more. Because property taxes are now toxic to our economy and our stability. And that is going to be at the top of our agenda for this year. Working with local governments. Working with county executives. Finding ways to get those property taxes down so the federal increase does not derail the progress of the state of New York.

We must continue to attract and create the jobs of tomorrow. And we must do it today. Every president has told us the same thing: it’s about improving our infrastructure, the New York difference is we don’t promise it, or propose it or talk about it – we do it. Good government is about action. We must continue to exercise our New York muscle and imagination. The New York spirit that built the tallest buildings and the longest bridges that defy gravity, pessimism and the naysayers. We have proven we can do it and do it well. Now we must do more of it. We must accelerate the modernization of our airports in New York City and all across upstate. We must accelerate our air train to LaGuardia so that every major city in the world has a train to the plane. We must open our transportation deserts and have the Port Authority and the MTA consider relocating the Red Hook Marine Terminal and explore whether Red Hook has enough transportation alternatives, or if they should study the possibility of a new subway line to stimulate Red Hook’s community-based development the way we did on the west side of Manhattan and East side line. We should continue to peruse a tunnel from Long Island to Westchester or Connecticut. DOT has determined it’s feasible, it would be under water, it would be invisible, it would reduce traffic on the impossibly congested Long Island Expressway and would offer significant potential private investment. We will also accelerate the Long Island Railroad modernization, it’s long overdue but it’s critical to the economy.

In 2018 as part of our $6.6 billion LIRR transformation plan we’ll finish the double track on the Ronkonkoma Line and we will finish it 16 months ahead of schedule and we will then and we will then begin construction of the third track along the main line which carries 40 percent of the LIRR riders. We are also rebuilding 39 stations. All together 100 projects which will transform the Long Island Railroad and transform the quality of life on Long Island finally thanks to you. We also had really good news several weeks ago when it was announced that the New York Islanders are moving back home to Long Island. And they are going to build a $1 billion hockey stadium at Belmont Racetrack. That’s how much they believe in Long Island. We have with us the owners of the Islanders, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. Could you please stand? Let’s give them a round of applause for believing in New York. We also have defenseman Calvin De Haan and left-wing Nikolay Kulemin. Stand up and let’s give them a round of applause and thank you for being here. Welcome back to Long Island.

A new economy is growing Upstate and we can’t allow a federal tax plan to derail our progress there. The Regional Economic Development Councils have done a great jobs with 6,300 development projects underway. Every region has seen a drop in unemployment and underemployment. This year will we start by continuing the REDCs and also bring cashless tolling to the New York State thruway system because we should make it faster and cleaner the way it’s working so well in downstate New York. We have new projects like Rock the Riverway in Rochester which will transform the Genesee Waterfront into a destination center and make Joe Morelli very happy. In the Southern Tier our development of the hemp industry will continue by partnering on a new hemp processing facility. In Syracuse we will do a DEIS for Route 81 as a tunnel and or as a community grid so we can look at both options and we’re going to proceed on the Inland Port at DeWitt because they’ve been talking for too long and doing too little and we’re going to make it a reality. And we also have great news in Syracuse and I want to congratulate Syracuse in Central New York today. We’re proud to announce that the AAA New York Chiefs will soon be the AAA New York Mets playing in Syracuse for Central New York. They are here with us today. Mets Owner Jeff Wilpon please stand up, Jeff. Richard Brown Managing Partner of Sterling Equities, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. Yay Sandy. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway, Mets Infielder and the Bronx’s own T.J. Rivera. And Mets outfielder Brandan Nimmo. Thank you guys welcome to Central New York. Congratulations County Executive Mahoney. That is great news.

The I Love New York campaign has revealed the secret that we have kept for too long. The secret is the beauty and the history of our state. Since 2011, our $200 million tourism investment has seen tourism spending increase $18 billion. That’s an investment my friends. And we should continue new modernization investments in Bellayre, Gore, and Whiteface Mountains to make them first rate ski resorts. We’re proposing a new history trail leading to Elon in the Hudson Valley, expediting a new exposition center in Syracuse which will be the largest exposition center in the northeast to continue to continue to attract tourists. It’s about jobs, jobs and jobs and tourism means jobs in Upstate New York so let’s do it because that’s where we need the jobs.

While our federal government is deconstructing parks, we believe they are a national treasure. We are going to increase our commission to our state parks – $63 million investment in Upstate parks, we’re going to build a new state park in Brooklyn, New York, 407 acres on Jamaica Bay. It’s going to be the largest park in New York City. And we have the Hudson River Park in New York City which is on the Manhattan west side. It was started by my father and Mayor Dinkins. It was supposed to be finished in 2003. It was derailed by ongoing disputes. We now have settled the disputes. We now have a full completion plan that completes the park from Battery Park City to 59th Street. We should finalize this amazing finishing and complete Manhattan’s west side. Let’s do it this year.

Now ladies and gentlemen, I am a realist. I know that this an ambitious agenda and I know it is probably the most challenging agenda that I have ever put forth. But these are challenging times, and we have to rise to the challenge for the very survival of our state. $4 billion deficit economic challenges, social wrongs, and a federal assault. All at once. This small-minded and the naysayers are going to forecast gloom and doom. Negativity is the dominant feeling in today’s political environment. But this is New York, and that is not the New York way. The New York way is to make the seemingly impossible, possible. You tell us we can’t do it; you only get us excited to show you we can. And we have done it time and time again and we have the track record to prove it. I want you to remember and appreciate what you’ve done. So when you’re looking at these challenges and you’re thinking about these challenges this year and you’re saying well jeez I don’t know if we can get it done, remember what we are doing. Remember what we have overcome. You have done and you have accomplished more than any administration in modern history. Just think about it.

We’re building new airports at LaGuardia, JFK, Rochester, Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Elmira, Corning, and at Stewart. We’re building new train stations in Schenectady, Niagara Falls, Rochester, a new Moynihan train hall at Penn which is transforming the Long Island Railroad. We’re building the Exposition Center at the State Fair, a new Jacob Javits Convention Center, the new Albany Convention Center, cashless tolling all across the state, the Woodbury Transit Hub, the University of Buffalo Medical School, the Buffalo Children’s Hospital. We’re building a new Utica Hospital, we’re building a new Kosciuszko Bridge, a national comedy center in Jamestown, we’re building new Upstate tourism resorts—state of the art from the ground up. We have a Tesla Panasonic Plant that we built in Buffalo, a Legoland Theme Park in the Hudson Valley, the Rochester Data Consortium. We are revitalizing Jones Beach, updating Gore Whiteface in Belleayre, we’re expanding Alstom in the Southern Tier, we’re expanding GM in Western New York, we’re expanding Welsh Island in Skinny Atlas, we’re attracting XX in Rochester, we’re attracting DanFoss to Utica, we’re attracting Soft Defense Company to Syracuse, attracting the North Titanium Plant to Plattsburgh, we’re creating a new healthcare system in Brooklyn called Vital Brooklyn, and we’re building the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

So, don’t tell me we can’t do it, because we can. There is nothing that we have put our minds to that we haven’t accomplished. And it’s not just about the projects we have built. That’s great, and that’s great for the economy. But in some ways, what’s even more special to me, is the lives that we have changed, the civil rights that we have created, the dignity that we have given people, and we have some of them here today, and I would ask them to stand when they were acknowledged. Those we helped when we said love doesn’t discriminate and we passed marriage equality for all New Yorkers. Those we helped when we said we believe people deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and you shouldn’t have to choose between paying rent and paying for food, and we passed the minimum wage – stand up. Those we helped when we said live your life in dignity and we passed paid family leave – stand up. Those we helped when we passed Raise the Age and gave them a second chance – stand up. Those we protected when we passed Enough is Enough and stopped sexual assault – stand up. Those we helped when we passed the Excelsior scholarship program – stand up. Those we helped when we passed the first special prosecutor in the nation against police violence and minorities – stand up. Let’s thank them all for being here today – give them a big round of applause.

Thank you. And we thank our legislators, our members of the Senate, our members of the Assembly – wait, let me tell you why. We thank our legislators because they understand that political extremism leads to polarization, paralysis and gridlock, and in gridlock everyone loses. And they understand that government is about doing good things for people, and moving the state forward. And they have the professionalism to remember that we may be democrats, we may be republicans, but we are New Yorkers first and that’s how we act. We find common ground and we move forward. Senate, Assembly – stand up, thank you for everything you’ve done. Thank you for all the laws you’ve passed. Thank you for passing the budgets on time. Thank you for 15 dollars. Thank you for all the lives you’ve changed.

So, in closing my friends, a few weeks ago I turned 60 years old. There is no good news about turning 60 years old. They say, “Well, 60 is the new 50.” 50 stinks too. There’s nothing, and there’s nothing even to look forward to. The only thing you can say now is it’s better than the alternative. Most days it is. But you turn 60, life gets a little simpler, and it gets a little clearer. You’re living in the world that we’re living in now that is frightening at times, that is challenging at times, and you start to think about what really matters, and what’s the best thing we can really be doing to help each other and to help this state. And I will tell you the God’s-honest truth. I’m not afraid about the economics and the federal assault and the four billion dollars and the six billion – that’s hard, but we know how to do that, and we will do that, and we’ve done it before. My greatest fear is the division that is spreading among our people. We have seen more anti-Semitism, more racial attacks, more religious tensions than in decades – all across the state.

Now, I understand the emotions: the country is searching its way through a challenging period and a confusing period. The economy is changing, there’s terrorism, Mother Nature’s constant bombardment, the unnerving constant pace of change in society. So anxiety is at a fever pitch. You feel it up around your neck. And now there’s a negative synergy, a sense that we are out of control, and that breeds a fear, and that fear breeds an anger, and that anger breeds a division, and that division makes us smaller and weaker. Our internal divisions are a cancer to our body politic. And our federal government is furthering the divisions. They govern by dividing. It’s winners versus losers, it’s rich versus middle class versus poor, it’s black versus white, it’s red states versus blue states, it’s documented versus undocumented, gay versus straight, Muslims versus Jews versus Christians. It’s always pitting one group against the other. It’s always conflict. It’s always either or, and much harm has been done. As the greatest Republican president Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” But our obligation as leaders is not just to say what we are against, but also what we support.

Our obligation as leaders is not just to criticize, but to offer an alternative – and we do. New York follows a different path. New York believes that there is no future through division, but only through unity. The New York Way is to believe diversity is not a liability; it is the exact opposite. Diversity is our greatest asset. We celebrate it. The New York Way is that tolerance is expected from all and inclusion is our operating principle, and forging community is our ultimate goal. 18 million New Yorkers from 190 countries, all immigrants, all newcomers, virtually all poor and in search of opportunity, all invited here by the same invitation extended by the great lady who stands in our harbor.

For Kathy Hochul and John Flanagan’s families from Ireland, for Carl Heastie family from the Bahamas, Tom DiNapoli’s family from Italy, Eric Schneiderman’s family from Russia – invited to forge one family: the family of New York. Gay and straight, white and black and brown, upstate and downstate – all working together, focusing on what unites us rather than divides us and then building on that commonality. Now, this is not a new principle. It’s not a democratic or republican idea, nor is it even uniquely New York.

It is an idea proven over 240 years. It is the nation’s founding premise and enduring promise. It is our Founding Fathers’ essential wisdom summed up in just three words: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. So fundamental to the American idea that in 1782 they stitched the words on the great seal of the United States, and that seal and those words are on the flag that has hung in the Oval Office every day since. Right behind President Trump’s desk. To find the way forward, the president only needs to turn around.

That, my friends, is the true formula for what makes America great. That is the simple yet profound idea that made America the greatest country on the globe. And New York – New York was the laboratory for that idea. We proved that it worked in 1782, and we proved that it works today. This year, let us show what New York is at its best. Let us show this nation the New York lesson: that at times of trouble and anxiety, the premise that made America great still guides us. That we do not seek to raise ourselves by pulling another down, but rather believe we succeed by raising each other up. That is the New York Way. And the New York Way is true north. 

And our true north is to follow the credo on our great seal of the State of New York: always reach higher, always hear our better angels, always aspire to unify, and always point up. 

Excelsior! Thank you and God bless you.

 

Hashtag ‘Summer of Hell’

As part of NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s forward-looking $100 billion infrastructure plan, the most ambitious in the nation, Long Island will have the nation’s largest off-shore windfarm. Yet Cuomo’s approval ratings have slumped because of the #SummerofHell © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Considering all that Governor Andrew Cuomo has been doing to update, upgrade, modernize New York’s infrastructure – including the Long Island Rail Road, a $32 billion rebuilding project for LaGuardia Airport, JF Kennedy Airport, the Gateway Tunnel and the Tappan Zee Bridge –  it is shocking, really, to hear Cuomo’s approval ratings have slumped in recent weeks, largely because of the very problems he is working to fix: the MTA and LIRR. There is massive work going on this summer and people are inconvenienced; Cuomo even declared a state of emergency for New York City subways. But at least he is doing something.

Part of the reason you get the uptick in disapproval is the way pollsters ask questions. I can certainly understand commuters’ distress at the disruptions this summer – some caused precisely because the system is so old and failing and needs to be replaced and some because they are working to replace the system – but quite another to blame Cuomo, rather than appreciate that at least, after decades of governors kicking cans down a road, is doing something about it – in fact, New York State is undertaking the most ambitious infrastructure project in the nation. And it goes along with a transition – as much as possible – to climate sustainability and clean, renewable energy.

But, in contrast to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who nixed the Hudson tunnel when he came to office as a slap-in-the-face to President Obama (and now the Trump Administration is likely to defund the Gateway project) and shut down the George Washington Bridge for 4 days to spite a Democratic mayor (and still was overwhelmingly reelected), Cuomo has implemented an ambitious infrastructure plan, on par with the bold visionary transformation of Governor DeWitt Clinton (Erie Canal), Governor Theodore Roosevelt (Barge Canal), and Governor Franklin Roosevelt (St. Lawrence Seaway). Indeed, New York is undergoing a $100 billion building program, the largest infrastructure revitalization programs in the nation.

This week, after 70 years of stagnation, Cuomo announced “historic” $5.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Rail Road – 100 transformative LIRR capital projects including the Main Line Third Track, Double Track, Jamaica Station Reconstruction, 39 renovated Long Island Rail Road stations, including Great Neck and Port Washington, plus the new Penn-Farley Complex and $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall. Additionally, East Side Access project will create the first direct LIRR service to the east side and increase capacity.

“With the complete transformation of the Long Island Railroad, New York is recapturing the bold ambition that made our infrastructure the envy of the nation and building for the future. The LIRR is the backbone of the region’s economy, and the strength and resiliency of Long Island requires bold, transformative investments to bolster our transportation network,” Governor Cuomo said. “From the previously unthinkable Third Track and Second Track projects to state-of-the-art technology and signal upgrades, we are daring to imagine better and delivering for the people of New York once again.”

And Cuomo has accepted the state’s responsibility in fixing the MTA, pledging support for the MTA NYC Subway Action Plan.

“The MTA is in crisis and hard-working New Yorkers deserve better. The plan outlined by Chairman Lhota is substantive and realistic. “I am fully committed to making it a reality. I accept the 50/50 split of funds, and the state will do its part. Government is about making a positive difference in people’s lives. As a lifelong New Yorker, I know how essential the subway service is to people’s day to day lives. I am all about getting results. Now is not the time for pointing fingers, but for moving forward – together as New Yorkers.”

Cuomo also stated, “Last week, we had a successful resolution to expand the Long Island Rail Road after 50 years of delay. Today Chairman Lhota laid out a comprehensive plan to transform the New York City transit system. Tomorrow, I will go to Washington to meet with Secretary Chao to discuss what may be the most important transportation project in the region – the Gateway Tunnel. The Gateway Tunnel is critical for rail traffic entering New York and the entire Northeast. It is essential that this project, which has been delayed for years, goes forward. I will also brief the New York Delegation on the situation.”

The state is also fortifying an additional 12 bridges (including $16.5 million to rehabilitate Long Island bridges) and replacing and upgrading 13 electric power substations.

The Port Authority is in the midst of a $32 billion, 10-year capital plan to redevelop LaGuardia and JF Kennedy airports and construct a LaGuardia AirTran.

There is also $112.2 million in funding for 81 projects that support bicycle and pedestrian enhancements and improve air quality across New York, including $2.2 million for Long Island projects in Brookhaven, Glen Cove and Amityville, and $200 million allocated to create the 750-mile long Empire State Trail Network.

It’s not just the transportation infrastructure, but the power system (not to mention initiatives to incentivize clean, renewable energy systems to replace fossil fuel, including electric car power stations along the thruway and offshore windpower, and expanding solar power) – in order to meet the Clean Energy Standard mandating 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors approved nearly $60 million in grants and interest-free and low-cost loans to support vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the state.

Yet, despite all that is going on, Cuomo’s approval ratings have slumped.

It’s really disheartening – it is why politicians rarely take bold initiatives, but rather pander or play to an image rather than getting things done. Most people have such a superficial, hollow understanding of what is going on – it’s why Republicans were able to perpetuate such hatred for Obama throughout his administration, stoking discontent rather than people appreciating the actual improvements in their lives – foreclosures stopped, job losses  stemmed, bankruptcies slowed. Instead, massive construction was underway thanks to infrastructure spending; teachers, police and firefighters kept their jobs, General Motors didn’t fold, paid apprenticeships expanded. But did Americans’ praise Obama? Absolutely not. Republicans kept up the fiction that Obama did not create “a single job,” that Obamacare and climate actions were “job-killing”, despite record number of months of consecutive job increases and unemployment rates falling to a level effectively called “full employment”. even through the 2012 reelection campaign. Trump was able to convince white working class people they were “forgotten” and only Trump could save them.

In the same vein, Republicans were able to stoked hatred for Obamacare before it was implemented, and even after  people were actually loving KYnect, Kentucky’s Obamacare health exchange. It’s one thing to hold a governor or mayor or president to task for ignoring problems or undertaking policies that exacerbate them. And it’s why the Russia/Trump propaganda campaign could be so effective. Sheeple.

#SummerofHell  is more than about discomfort or discontentment about commuting. It goes to the heart of why politicians are unwilling to be bold, how easily it is to rabble-rouse a crowd. It is why those “forgotten” white working class were so easily incited in hatred and anger against Obama, to fail to appreciate that their situations were in fact improving (people weren’t losing jobs or homes or retirement savings, they had access to health care) and connived into following Trump, easily the most corrupt, inept, self-serving ignoramus to hold such power (“Leader of the Free World”) in the history of the world, including Nero.

And you know how people always say that candidates need a positive vision? Well the Trumpers have offered nothing but the bleakest dystopia, winning support by engendering fear and insecurity, notably based on fabrications on such vital issues as climate change, immigration, health care, trade, national security. Even now, Trump says he would rather Obamacare fail (which means that millions would lose healthcare and tens of thousands would die unnecessarily each year) rather than Republicans fail to replace it.

In answer the question, “How did we get here?”, Michael Hadjiargyrou of Centerport wrote to the New York Times, “The answer is simple: a politically apathetic and historically uninformed citizenry, blindly led by a populist salesman, who pulled the lever in his favor. Until a majority of Americans pay closer attention to politics, we are doomed to these kind of outcomes.”

______________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NYS Governor Gives His Support for Long Island to Sign Deal for Offshore Windpower

Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.
Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.

 

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On January 25, activists who have been fighting for decades for clean, renewable energy in order to end our society’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, are hoping they will finally be able to pop the champagne corks when the Long Island Power Authority Board approves a power purchase agreement for off-shore wind power for the East End.

Indeed, just a week after the Block Island Wind Farm began producing power, New York labor unions, civic and environmental organizations and elected officials hosted a rally outside of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) praising LIPA for expressing support of offshore wind power and its anticipated vote on Jan. 25 to move forward on the nation’s largest offshore wind project. Over 100 gathered in front of LIPA, in the largest show of Long Island’s support for offshore wind to date.

Located off the east end of Long Island, Deepwater Wind’s 90-megawatt, 15-turbine project will produce enough energy to power about 50,000 Long Island homes by 2022. This pivotal decision, opening a new era for Long Island’s energy economy, would eliminate the need for LIPA to build a new fossil fuel-fired plant to meet the region’s energy needs. Keep in mind that Long Island officials keep saying the impediment to businesses coming here are the high energy costs.

Now the activists are calling on LIPA to move forward on the Island-Wide renewable energy Request for Proposal in early 2017 which could include another 210 MW of offshore wind off of Long Island’s south fork. (Europe already generates 12,100 megawatts of off-shore wind energy).

Meanwhile, in the waning days of the Obama Administration (and not a moment too soon), the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), awarded Statoil Wind US LLC, a private company from Norway that specializes in oil and gas, the lease to develop an off-shore wind farm on 80,000 acres some 12 miles off of Long Island’s south shore. Statoil’s $42.5 million bid beat out NYSERDA, the New York State energy research development agency, which had wanted to win so it could be the lead agency and expedite development of off-shore windpower for New York.

The project could provide 800 megawatts of offshore wind power in an area 17 miles south of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now that it will be the domain of a private company, New York customers- like LIPA and Con Ed – will likely have to compete with New Jersey and others. LIPA needs to lock in supply, with a Power Purchase Agreement and details on where the company can run its cables on to shore, and do so before the Trumpsters try to overturn the lease altogether. Recall this is the same area where a private company wanted to site the Port Ambrose Liquified Natural Gas facility, which would have shut down the possibility of any wind farm.

The incoming Trump Administration’s determination to reverse course on a transition to clean, renewable energy, and return us to dependency on fossil fuels – no matter the impact on climate, the environment and ecology, no matter how it basically indentures residents and businesses to ever higher prices for energy, no matter how it endangers national security –  means it will be up to the states to continue progress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of producing 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with an ultimate goal of 100%. Developing offshore wind power – and a wholly new industry for Long Island – is essential for achieving those targets, along with solar, geothermal and hydro power sources (East Hampton has passed legislation that it would get 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.)

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo made major news during his State of the State message at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island, announced that New York is committed to building 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2030 – enough to power 1.25 million homes. The Governor also pledged his support for New York’s first, and the nation’s largest, offshore wind project off the east end of Long Island.

“We have to start to do some big things, we have to do big things in renewable energy to get that cost to power down on Long Island,” he stated. “And we have wind power, we’ve had wind power for years. Offshore wind farms work. They can be done right, they can be done correctly, they don’t have to be an eyesore.

“I’m calling on LIPA to approve a 90 megawatt wind farm. It’s enough to support 50,000 homes. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms. But the upside is tremendous. It will be the largest offshore wind project in our nation’s history, not just in existence. It’s jobs. It’s clean energy and it’s inexpensive energy which then drives the economy. And we are not going to stop there. We have a mandate of 50 percent renewable power by the year 2030. We want to get 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 and we are not going to stop until we reach 100 percent renewable because that’s what a sustainable New York is really all about.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Offshore wind power is especially important in light of Cuomo’s pronouncement in his State of the State address that the Indian Point nuclear plant, which theoretically generates 2000 megawatts of energy, will be shut down by 2021.

The Atlantic waters off Long Island has some of the best conditions for off-shore windpower production in North America, if not the world. Dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of offshore wind” we could be the epicenter for a new American energy industry, already $20 billion globally. Scientists and engineers at SUNY Stony Brook are developing new battery storage systems and monitoring controls. Wind turbines need to be manufactured, installed, monitored and maintained, producing thousands of everlasting jobs along with the wind power.

And unlike fossil fuels, where the prices are unpredictable except they almost always go up (oil and gas, after all, are finite resources, costly to develop, process and deliver), wind power is a predictable, stable price that is on a trajectory to come down, not up.

“It’s been a marathon of work and effort to bring wind power to Long Island, but we are at the last mile and moving closer to the finish line,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said at the Dec. 20 rally. “Long Islanders are ready for offshore wind. We have assessed the science, the economics and the societal benefits and we concluded that wind works as an important mainstream energy source. We can longer be fossil fools and deny the consequences of climate change.”

“With Donald Trump about to occupy the White House, it’s essential that states like New York take the lead in transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch stated. “Climate change could be catastrophic to New York, but with the fossil fuel industry poised to set federal energy policy, we need Governor Cuomo to lead a clean energy revolution. Having banned fracking, a next crucial step is for New York to move forward with the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.”

Come out to the LIPA board meeting on January 25 to show your support.

If they build it, we will come.

To learn more about Reforming the Energy Vision, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow @Rev4NY.

_______________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin