Enacted Budget Includes Optional Payroll-Tax System, New Funds for Charitable Donations, and Legislation to De-Couple from the Federal Tax Code – Summary of Reforms Available Here
Coordinated Response Provides Alternatives to the Devastating Federal Assault; SALT Limitations Cost New York Taxpayers $14.3 Billion
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today recognized Tax Day with the signing of legislation to protect New Yorkers from tax increases brought about by the federal tax reforms. These changes to the state tax code will help preserve New York’s economic competitiveness and protect state and local tax deductibility – a basic tenet of tax law that has been part of the modern federal income tax since it was created. The legislation provides new options for tax deductible charitable donations, creates a new Employer Compensation Expense Program so that employers can help their employees maximize deductibility, and decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid state tax increases brought solely by increases in federal taxes.
“New York will not stand idle while the federal government takes aim at the economic heart of our communities and takes from the hardworking men and women of this state to benefit this country’s wealthy and corporations,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bill ensure protections for New Yorkers against Washington’s targeted attack and we will continue to lead this fight and do everything we can to protect the rights and wallets of families across New York.”
The legislation signed today enacts a series of reforms to the New York State tax code designed to protect New York residents from the adverse impacts of the recently enacted federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These changes follow a report issued by the Department of Taxation and Finance in January 2018 that outlines several measures for the state to consider in order to mitigate these negative impacts. After further study and extensive consultation with experts from state and local government, academia, and the private sector, the proposed reforms were found to be viable options for protecting New Yorkers and were included in the Executive Budget and, ultimately, passed by the legislature. Specifically, the FY 2019 Budget takes the following steps:
Promotes State Charitable Contributions to Benefit New Yorkers: The FY 2019 Budget creates a new state-operated Charitable Contribution Fund to accept donations for the purposes of improving health care and public education in New York State. Taxpayers who itemize deductions may claim these charitable contributions as deductions on their federal and state tax returns. Any taxpayer making a donation may also claim a state tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount for the tax year after the donation is made. Taxpayers may also make qualified contributions to certain not-for-profit organizations for specified purposes.
Authorizes Local Government to Establish Local Charitable Funds: The FY 2019 Budget authorizes local governments to establish charitable gift reserve funds and to offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. Under the law, such funds may receive unrestricted charitable contributions for the purposes of addressing education, health care, and other charitable purposes. This is an optional program available to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. Local governments and school districts may also establish charitable funds and offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. These funds will help support vital government activities while also helping preserve the tax deductibility that our tax system was built on.
Establishes the Alternative Employer Compensation Expense Program: The FY 2019 Budget creates new ways for employers to help their employees with their federal tax bill. While Federal tax reform eliminated full state and local tax deductibility for individuals, businesses were spared from these limitations. Under this program, employers will be able to opt-in to a new Employer Compensation Expense Program structure. Employers that opt-in will be subject to a 5 percent tax on all annual payroll expenses in excess of $40,000 per employee, phased in over three years beginning on January 1, 2019. The progressive personal income tax system will remain in place, and a new tax credit corresponding in value to the ECEP will cut the personal income tax on wages and ensure that State filers subject to the ECEP will not experience a decline in take-home pay. The program is designed to be revenue neutral for the state. Employers would also not be adversely impacted, but they’d be giving their employees the opportunity to reduce their federal taxes.
De-Couples from the Federal Tax Code: The state tax code is closely aligned with the federal tax code. This legislation decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid more than $1.5 billion in State tax increases brought solely by increases in Federal taxes.
The new federal law disproportionally and adversely impacts New York State, which already sends $48 billion more each year to Washington than it receives in federal dollars. According to a recent report released by the State Department of Tax and Finance, the elimination of full SALT deductibility alone will cost New York an additional $14.3 billion.
“These reforms to our State tax code are the result of collaborations between state agencies, working with many tax professionals, businesses, and experts,” State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr. said. “This legislation will protect New York’s taxpayers, our State Budget, and our economic competitiveness.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “In Westchester County most residents pay more than $10,000 a year in taxes. These taxes are for schools, local government and state government. The last federal budget robbed Westchester – and our residents’ way of life was threatened. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this creative plan to help county taxpayers, and Legislators for recognizing how imperative this issue is. We support it, and will do everything in our power to implement it.”
“Today is tax day, and New Yorker’s will again send billions more to Washington than our state will get back in the form of federal funding. As a sovereign state, it is critically important that we do whatever we can to protect the income of our taxpayers, and we applaud Governor Cuomo and state legislators for advancing legislation to do just that,” New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said,
New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Director Peter A. Baynes said,
“NYCOM greatly appreciates Governor Cuomo’s proactive leadership in offering an option to mitigate the harm inflicted upon New York’s communities and their residents with the new cap on state and local tax deductions. Working collaboratively with NYCOM and other groups, the Governor and the State Legislature have enacted viable options for New Yorkers to avoid increases in taxes, decreases in home values, and reductions in essential municipal services. We look forward to working with the Administration to successfully implement this program.”
These changes to the state tax code are part of Governor Cuomo’s multi-pronged effort to fight the federal tax assault. Along with the Governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, Governor Cuomo announced a coalition to sue the federal government. The new law effectively preempts the states’ ability to govern by reducing the ability to provide for their own citizens and unfairly targets New York and similarly situated states in violation of the Constitution.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $18.5 million included in the FY 2019 Enacted Budget to launch a multi-pronged program for at-risk young people that will help Long Island communities cut off the MS-13 gang recruitment pipeline. Of this funding, $16 million will support the expansion of after-school programs, case management services and job opportunities for vulnerable youth, as well as community and local law enforcement initiatives to prevent gang involvement. A total of $2.5 million in funding will also support the Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative and SNUG street outreach on Long Island, which provide law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations with resources to help combat gun and gang violence using proven, evidence-based strategies. Together, this commitment builds on progress New York has made over the past year and ensures that young people have the tools and resources to avoid involvement in a gang.
“New York will not tolerate the monstrous acts and fear that MS-13 has brought to our communities, and by focusing on educating and protecting our young residents, we are furthering our efforts to drive out these violent criminals,” Governor Cuomo said. “The launch of this comprehensive plan invests in critical programming to help stomp out gang recruitment, engage young men and women during and after school, and help protect New Yorkers from being victimized, as we work to eliminate MS-13’s presence in this state for good.”
MS-13 is an international criminal gang that emerged in the United States in the 1980s. They engage in a wide range of criminal activity and are uniquely violent, oftentimes engaging in brutal acts simply to increase the gang’s notoriety. Despite violent crime being down dramatically on Long Island over the past several years, a recent uptick in violent crime, including a series of senseless homicides, has been traced directly back to the MS-13 gang. This funding is the latest component of a holistic approach laid out by Governor Cuomo to eradicate MS-13 on Long Island and protect New York’s communities.
Comprehensive Programs for At-Risk Youth on Long Island
Expand the Empire State After-School Program: $2 Million
The FY 2019 Budget includes $2 million to expand the Empire State After School Program this year to schools and nonprofit organizations located in at-risk areas on Long Island, which have been identified by the State Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Division of State Police, as well as County Executives, and local law enforcement agencies. This expanded initiative will keep young people engaged in sports, music, art, and other educational programming during after school hours and help deter potential gang activity or involvement.
Increase Job and Training Opportunities for At-Risk Youth: $5 Million
The successful New York Youth Jobs program will dedicate up to $5 million to provide job and training opportunities to young people who are most at-risk of being potentially recruited into gangs. This program will guide youth toward employment and vocational training positions and provide tax incentives to companies that hire unemployed, out-of-school youth between the ages of 16 and 24. This engagement will help provide a pathway for young people who may be pressured into crime because of their financial disadvantage.
Provide Gang Prevention Education Programs: $2 Million
Over the next three years, $2 million will be invested to support local education programs focused on early intervention and violence prevention that target middle and high school students. Working with school districts and community-based organizations, this initiative will provide students with counseling, group programming, and other social services to help them avoid gang recruitment, peer pressure, violence, and delinquent behavior. Law enforcement agencies working with schools and community-based organizations on gang prevention education to help both in-school and out-of-school youth will be able to share $500,000 of this investment.
Develop Comprehensive Support Services For Vulnerable Youth: $3 Million
To provide immigrant youth with the resources they need to succeed, a $3 million investment included in the FY 2019 Budget will be provided over three years to support comprehensive case management. This service will be used to support vulnerable young people, particularly new immigrant children who are often the focus of MS-13 recruitment. This case management will include medical and mental health support, addiction treatment, trauma and family counseling, language training, and other community support services to promote positive social-emotional development and strong ties to the community.
Establish a New Community Assistance Team: $4 Million
To identify and respond to gang activity in “hot spots,” as well as support local requests for actionable intelligence and increased service, the FY 2019 Budget supports the deployment of a State Police Community Assistance Team to Long Island. The 11-person team will include six Troopers, three investigators, one senior investigator, and one supervisor designated to partner with local law enforcement and community-based agencies to support their efforts to curtail gang-related crime.
State Support for Violence Reduction Efforts through GIVE and SNUG Initiatives
Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative Funding: $1.9 Million
The FY 2019 Budget continues to support the DCJS Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative, which is a nationally-recognized approach to reduce violence using evidence-based strategies. This year, Nassau and Suffolk counties will receive a total GIVE award of $1.9 million to fund community outreach efforts, training, equipment, and personnel – such as prosecutors and crime analysts. This support will be shared among Long Island’s police departments, district attorneys’ offices, probation departments, and sheriffs’ offices.
SNUG Street Outreach Funding:$687,500
The FY 2019 Budget also continues support for the DCJS SNUG programs on Long Island. These programs, located in Hempstead and Wyandanch, provide community-based organizations, in partnership with local law enforcement, resources to conduct street outreach and steer young people away from violence. This year, these two organizations will receive a total of $687,500 – an increase of $78,500 over the previous year.
Combatting Gang Violence on Long Island
Investments included in the FY 2019 Budget mark the latest effort to eradicate gang violence on Long Island led by Governor Cuomo. Last April, the Governor directed the State Police to deploy resources on Long Island to help combat MS-13, including 25 Troopers to conduct high visibility patrols in Brentwood and Central Islip, as well as undercover operations specifically targeting and saturating neighborhoods known to have high levels of gang activity. The State Police also provided six new investigators to the FBI-led Long Island Gang Task Force which comprises more than 30 members of federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and helps agencies combine intelligence and other resources to conduct comprehensive investigations into gang activity.
Most recently, Governor Cuomo announced the deployment of a new Gang Violence Prevention Unit, consisting of 10 State Troopers. The unit will work to identify early warning signs of gang activity and coordinates closely with the Suffolk County Police Department on an “Educate the Educators” program to help teachers and faculty recognize the early warning signs of gang involvement and recruitment and provide training to students on the dangers of street gangs. Today’s announcement enacts the 4th Proposal of the Governor’s State of the State which was announced last December in advance of the legislative session.
Senator Phil Boyle said, “New York’s investments in gang prevention strategies, education programming, and gun safety initiatives have set us apart from the rest, supporting an increase in community outreach and, a decrease in violent crimes on Long Island. Thanks to the unwavering commitment and collaboration of Governor Cuomo, my colleagues in the NY State Senate and local leaders throughout the region, this latest investment will take our efforts to new heights and engage more students than ever before. I commend our communities for sticking together as we work to put an end, once and for all, to MS-13.”
Assemblyman Phil Ramos said, “MS-13 has wreaked havoc in our communities for far too long. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in the legislature and alongside Governor Cuomo to ensure necessary funding is delivered to Long Island to help stop these dangerous criminals in their tracks and protect our some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. I look forward to young men and women engaging in more after-school activities and taking advantage of new job training opportunities, as we work to build a brighter future for all of our residents.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “As crime in Suffolk County continues to decline and remains at historic lows, we are committed to eradicating MS-13 through a comprehensive approach by focusing not just on law enforcement but also stopping the recruitment pipeline. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, this state investment will provide the necessary resources to help fund this anti-gang approach and keep our communities safe.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “I am proud of the joint efforts across Long Island to eliminate the fear of gang violence and return peace to our communities. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s continued leadership he has ensured the state’s the FY 2019 Budget delivered the funding necessary to provide much needed education programs and gang prevention strategies that will help keep our kids safe. In addition, he again shows his support for the men and women of our police departments by making sure they are equipped with the tools needed to combat gang violence and hold perpetrators accountable. I look forward to working with state and local partners to launch these programs and help shape the lives of New York’s young men and women.”
Suffolk County Legislator Monica R. Martinez said, “The state’s holistic approach – educating and protecting our children while working together to put an end to MS-13, is the road map we need to ensure a brighter future for all our residents. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, crucial funding has been delivered to Long Island that will help drive out fear from our neighborhoods and equip community organizations and schools with the tools we need to wipe out this vicious gang for good. I applaud our state leaders for working together to ensure these investments are made, and for working side-by-side with our region to keep our students safe.”
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued an open letter to President Trump.
Dear Mr. President,
The old adage is right: “go with your first instinct.” Your White House meeting with bipartisan federal legislators right after the Florida massacre appeared and was unscripted and productive. You essentially had one question that summed up what every American was feeling: “why?” Why sell guns to young people who can’t yet buy a beer? Why sell assault weapons that are designed to kill so many people so quickly? Why not take guns from the mentally ill before they hurt someone or themselves? Why not make sure every gun purchaser goes through a background check?
There was no answer from the electeds assembled, because there is no answer – except the one you suggested – they are afraid of the NRA.
Major political change comes when a window of opportunity opens and a leader seizes the moment. There are brief moments in history where attention, passion and drive combine to unite the American people and overwhelm the forces preserving the status quo and create change.
The American gun crisis has long been a plague and scourge on our country. You can do something about it and the American people would support it. This is the moment. The Republicans will follow your lead. Yes, they fear the NRA, but they fear the enraged citizen majority more.
In New York, after the Sandy Hook massacre, the nation had a similar moment. It was a moment of grief and pain and anger. Sandy Hook touched the hearts and minds of every day Americans. It was anyone’s child – it was everyone’s child. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook we passed the New York Safe Act – common sense gun safety. It has made a dramatic difference, it didn’t negatively affect any legal gun owners, and I believe it has saved lives.
Mentally ill and dangerous people shouldn’t have guns so we need universal background checks. When a person shows signs of mental distress or violence, there should be a provision for police to investigate and determine the facts – a “red flag bill.” Domestic violence offenders should not have guns. Assault weapons are too dangerous in the wrong hands and not worth the risk. In 1938 we outlawed machine guns in this Country precisely for the same reason: they were too dangerous if obtained by the wrong person. Does anyone miss not owning machine guns?
For those of us who serve in government, if we are lucky, we may have a few moments that present a real opportunity to make a lasting difference. There are brief openings where transformational progress is possible and you have that opportunity now. The moments are rare and fleeting. They are leadership moments: don’t squander it.
The political advisers are wrong. NRA members will be nervous about any government change and intervention but they will ultimately realize a functioning system vindicates legitimate gun owners rather than demonizing all. If you lose this moment, I am sad to say there will probably be another shooting and the Country will be in the same place, and it will once again pose the question that you posed – “why?” “Why didn’t we do anything about this after Florida?” You have the responsibility to stop that from happening.
New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island Enter into Agreement to Create Multi-State Database That Will Share Information on Firearms, Law Enforcement Efforts and Supplement Federal NICS Database
New Multi-State Coalition Will Trace and Intercept Firearms to Stop Flow of Out-of-State Guns
Nation’s First Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium Will Conduct Studies to Better Inform Policy Makers
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo today announced the formation of the new “States for Gun Safety” coalition to combat gun violence. In the face of repeated federal inaction, the coalition will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to better share information and tackle this devastating epidemic through a comprehensive, regional approach. The coalition will advance a multi-pronged effort that will create a multi-state database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes as well as guns transported across state borders and launch the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium that will study the issue across multiple disciplines to better inform policy makers nationwide.
“Here in New York, we’re proud to be home to the nation’s strongest gun safety law. However, the federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has actually prevented the laws like the SAFE Act from being fully effective,” Governor Cuomo said.“Rather than wait for the federal government to come to its senses and pass responsible gun safety legislation, New York is joining with New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island to take matters into our own hands. Not only will this groundbreaking partnership take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines, but by forming the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, we will be able to better inform policymakers nationwide on how to keep their communities safe.”
“We refuse to allow federal inaction to enact commonsense, gun safety laws endanger the lives of our residents,” Governor Malloy said. “Despite the best efforts of powerful lobbyists from special interest groups, we will work together as a coalition of states to keep our communities safe. We cannot sit back and let guns get into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and we cannot simply watch almost daily tragedy occur. One thing remains clear: we would be better off if every state and the federal government enacted sensible gun safety rules. We will not wait for Washington to act – the time for action is now.”
“Gun violence is not a New Jersey problem, or a New York problem, or a problem for any particular state or region – it is a national problem,” Governor Murphy said.”However, we cannot wait for Congress to act. As states, we must work together to take the steps and enact the measures to protect our residents and our communities. But, even more importantly, a collective of states can take these steps together broaden the reach and impact of commonsense gun safety laws.”
“Rhode Island has some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world’s weakest. Kids in Florida and across the nation are taking action, and it’s not a surprise: We’ve forced them to lead because for years elected officials in Washington have refused to,” Governor Raimondo said. “We will stand up with our students and with parents to strengthen our gun laws and combat gun violence.”
As part of the coalition, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will share information about individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within each state. By sharing this information, states can more effectively prevent certain individuals from purchasing a gun, obtaining a weapon and/or getting a gun permit. The agreement, in accordance with federal and state privacy protections, will provide state law enforcement agencies with details on the firearm purchase or permit denials for those who are disqualified. People may be disqualified from owning a firearm for several reasons, including an arrest warrant, order of protection, debilitating mental health condition, or criminal history.
Despite the passage of gun safety laws restricting the purchase and carry of firearms across the four states, the lack of federal regulations preventing individuals from purchasing guns in other states and transporting them across borders has undermined state legislation. To combat this practice, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will direct their law enforcement intelligence centers to work cooperatively to trace the use of out-of-state guns in crimes and share information in order to intercept criminals transporting illegal guns across state borders. The four state fusion centers that will jointly share information under this agreement are the New York State Intelligence Center, the Connecticut Intelligence Center, New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center.
The four states will also designate institutions of higher education to partner and create the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. The consortium will be comprised of dedicated public health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice experts who will share and examine data to better inform policymakers nationwide. This groundbreaking consortium will fill the void left by the federal government’s 1996 ban on the use of federal funds to study gun violence which has obstructed research efforts across the nation, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
“We have to remember that the federal government has had a provision in place now for over 20 years that effective bars the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence. So it has devolved to the states, now for over 20 years and our thought is perhaps if we can do it in a coordinated way, the more of us at it, hopefully the better result and meaningfully propelling things like smart gun technology,” Governor Murphy of New Jersey said during a telephone press availability with al four governors.
“We can’t wait for the federal government to act. We have states with good intentions, with good laws, let’s take it to the next level. Let’s work across our borders. Let’s not just advocate for better laws in our own state, but advocate for better laws in our region. Let’s not just try to make our own borders as safe as possible. Let’s try to make our region as safe as possible.” We’ll reach out to other governors,” Governor Malloy of Connecticut said.
Building on these efforts, the states will also work to push the federal government to adopt common-sense gun safety measures. In order to protect families and communities across the region, the group will call on the federal government to swiftly enact universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.
The multi-state coalition builds on years of progress spearheaded by Governor Cuomo to combat gun violence in New York. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Democrats and Republicans came together in New York to pass the nation’s strongest gun safety law in 2013. The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, more commonly known as the NY SAFE Act, banned the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines and helps keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, all the while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.
In addition to the SAFE Act, New York has continued to invest in the SNUG and GIVE initiatives which engage with community members to help get guns off the street. Under SNUG, specially trained individuals are employed to reduce violence from occurring when tensions arise within their community, while also connecting high-risk individuals with essential social and support services. The GIVE initiative provides funding to support technical assistance, training, equipment, and personnel – such as prosecutors and crime analysts – to help communities reduce gun violence and save lives. The funding for both initiatives is administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Most recently, Governor Cuomo proposed new legislation as part of the 2018 State of the State which will remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all firearms be removed from those convicted of domestic violence crimes, including misdemeanors. It will also add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies.
“We’re not waiting for federal action,” said Governor Cuomo of New York, a former Attorney General who laid out an indictment against the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress over its measures that not only don’t mitigate against gun violence, but go backwards. “All of our states are already ahead of the federal government when it comes to laws on this issue. The Florida Parkland massacre, one would hope that it would spur responsible federal action but we’re not going to hold our breath and were not going to risk our children’s lives. Sandy hook happened, I remember speaking with Governor Malloy at the time, and since then 1600 people have died. After Sandy Hook was when New York passed the SAFE Act because people were so outraged and change comes when people demand change. After Sandy Hook, especially in this region of the country, people demanded change. Columbine 1999, since then there have been 200 school shootings, 25 mass school shootings, so no I’m not especially optimistic that the federal government will be a response.
“Let’s be honest, this a federal government has gone backward on the issue. President Trump has pledged allegiance to the NRA and he’s delivered for them. He defunded, in part, the NICS background check system, he stopped last February the Social Security Administration from providing information that the Obama administration put into place that would have given more information on mental health for the NICS system and the solution here is not rocket science. In many ways it’s harder because it takes political courage and this is not just about the NRA, this is a politically charged issue and I think we understate the opposition when we say it’s just the NRA. To be responsible on this issue you have to pay a political cost.
“Governors on the phone all understand that. I have the political scars from what we did and that’s why it really is a test of leadership and I think right now you have the high school students showing more leadership than the leaders in Washington. What they said on TV was it shouldn’t be a democratic or republican issue, it’s an issue in life and death and they’re right.
“Your Florida elected officials showed up at the town hall like Senator Marco Rubio, who I think should be ashamed of themselves because he had nothing responsible to say and rather than proposing baby steps, which is the worst type of political pandering, he should have at least been honest and say we have nothing meaningful to propose on this issue. At least that would have been honest.
“To say this is a mental health issue is a sham and a fraud because if you really believed it was a mental health issue, then you have to say, the way to combat mental health is we will have s universal background check system to make sure a person who is mentally ill cannot buy a gun. We’re going to have a NICS system that has a comprehensive mental health database that is in the federal NICS system. You will then have to have a federal reporting system where people could actually report people to police, people who they believe has a mental health problem. Teachers would have to be able to call police, family members would have to be able to call the police and say investigate this person because I think they are mentally ill and they shouldn’t have a gun and they still have to answer why you wouldn’t support an assault ban. 1934, this nation outlawed machine guns because the nation said the risk outweighs the reward. The damage that can be done with a machine gun outweighs the individual’s right to own it. That is an assault rifle today. It’s doable, it’s feasible, we did it in this country. It’s just that we’ve gone backwards,” Cuomo said during the press call.
“The answer is not to make the schools armed camps. That’s where they’re going to go in Washington. Why? Because that’s where the NRA wants them to go. Because it means selling more guns. And the NRA is in the business of selling guns. Arm every teacher. Oh that makes sense. The only thing it would do is bring more guns into a school, more money for gun manufacturers, which is what the NRA is really trying to say…
“Today, we take the next step in the evolution of state action. We are limited by our borders so we can put in laws but then our borders are porous. Governor Malloy spoke about the I-95 corridor. That guns literally come up the I-95 corridor. Share your databases and your information so if a person can’t buy a gun in New York, they don’t drive to Connecticut or New Jersey or Rhode Island and buy the gun. Come up with a coalition of state actions. And then share that information. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. We have a mental health database in New York that now exists that didn’t exist before the SAFE Act that has 77,000 people who are on the database who are mentally ill who could have bought a gun in this state the day before the SAFE Act. Share that information.
“On Governor Murphy’s point about research, I was HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration. At that time, the manufacturers said they could manufacture a smart gun. They could manufacturer a gun where the trigger read a finger print. We’ve done absolutely nothing on the research and the technology because they haven’t been forced to do it.
“So do what you can and that’s what we’re doing. This is not a substitute for federal action. And we hope and we will push for federal action. I would like to see the national democrats put a real sensible gun control bill on the table so that people have a real choice and we have a real debate because this is not about baby steps, this is not about bump stocks and moving the age from 18-21. Those are just political crumbs to throw forward to end the political discomfort for some of the elected officials. Let’s do something real and let’s make a difference. This has been handled by countries across the globe. We can handle it if we want to. If we have the political courage and the political will to do it. It’s that simple. But it’s that difficult.”
Federal Government Ends TPS Status for 16,200 Salvadorans and Thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans Currently Living in NYS
Governor Directs NYS Department of State to Increase Resources Available to Communities Across New York
Residents Seeking Information and Legal Counsel Urged to Call New Americans Hotline: 1-800-566-7636
Office for New American Outreach Centers, Liberty Defense Project to Increase Outreach
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of State to increase access to and offer additional resources for communities impacted by the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. Of the 114,127 Salvadorans currently living in New York State, 16,200 are TPS beneficiaries and will be impacted by the federal government’s decision to end TPS recognition for the country.
“After fleeing a horrific natural disaster, Salvadorans found safe haven on our shores and have called the U.S. home for more than a decade. They have worked hard, paid taxes, bought homes, and had families – all in an effort to achieve the American Dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “This federal administration’s decision to tear families apart, disrupt small businesses, and lead those who have become part of the American fabric to an uncertain future, is disgraceful and unjust. We will work day in and day out to connect with impacted New Yorkers and make sure they know their rights and legal options in order to help protect these hard-working men and women.”
Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it was ending TPS recognition for Salvadorans living in the U.S., effective September 9, 2019. El Salvador residents had been granted TPS since 2001, when an earthquake devastated the Central American country. The decision to end TPS for Salvadorans follows the Trump administration’s recent termination of TPS recognition for Haiti, impacting 50,000 individuals nationwide, and Nicaragua, impacting 2,800 individuals nationwide.
Governor Cuomo has directed the New York State Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project – both hosted by the New York State Department of State – to increase outreach and communication efforts to impacted residents and communities across the state to ensure they understand their rights and legal options.
Since 1990, the United States has offered TPS to immigrants from 10 countries that have experienced civil unrest, violence, a natural disaster or an epidemic. Those who are granted TPS – approximately 342,570 individuals across the nation – have the legal right to reside and work in the United States. El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras constitute the countries with the most TPS beneficiaries in the U.S.
U.S. Representative Yvette Clark of the 9th District, who recently sponsored legislation to let every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017 apply for permanent residency by proving before a judge that they would face extreme hardship if forced to return home, said, “Our nation has welcomed TPS beneficiaries who fled unexpected and, in some cases, deplorable circumstances in their home countries, and has given them opportunity to flourish here in the U.S. These hard-working men, women, and their children have embraced their new lives and have become a part of the fabric of our nation. Many are business owners, hairdressers, teachers, nurses, and doctors. They are our neighbors and friends. I applaud the Governor’s continued commitment to these individuals and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him in protecting our communities.”
Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation, said, “By terminating the Temporary Protected Status program to Salvadorans, the Trump administration has turned its back on America’s promise to be a haven for those unable to safely return to their home country. Ending TPS will not make us richer or safer. Instead it will damage our economy irreparably, heartlessly break up families, and destabilize established communities (nearly one-third of TPS holders own homes in their communities). We stand with Governor Cuomo and call on Congress to rectify this grave injustice immediately by passing legislation that would provide permanent residency for long-time TPS holders.”
Additional Resources and the New Americans Hotline
Anyone impacted by the TPS decision may contact the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. The toll-free, multilingual hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous. The hotline operates from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), and is managed by Catholic Charities Community Services.
The Office for New Americans’ 27 neighborhood-based Opportunity Centers, and lawyers specializing in immigration law and members of the Liberty Defense Project, will provide free up-to-date information and advice to TPS individuals from all affected countries and through individual consultations. The consultations can also provide guidance and screening for possible adjustment of immigration status.
To locate an Office for New Americans Opportunity Center, click here. To view the Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers Map, click here.
Upcoming Know Your Rights seminars and consultations will take place on the dates included below. Locations will be announced as soon as possible and made available through the hotline and online at: www.newamericans.ny.gov.
February 8 – Hispanic Federation and Make the Road New York
February 15 – Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Hispanic Federation
February 22 – Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
The New York State Office for New Americans
Governor Cuomo established the Office for New Americans to assist newcomers to New York State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York State. The New York State Office for New Americans helps New Americans fully participate in New York State civic and economic life.
The Office is committed to strengthening New York State’s welcoming environment for New Americans and facilitating their success by:
Creating a network of neighborhood-based “Opportunity” Centers;
Increasing access to English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL) training;
Preparing New Americans for the naturalization process;
Connecting New Americans to business resources to harness their entrepreneurial spirit;
Developing and leveraging the professional skills of New Americans;
Strengthening the connections between New Americans and their communities through civic engagement and other opportunities;
Reduce exploitation of New Americans by scammers and con artists; and
Marshal State resources to better serve New Americans.
The New York State Liberty Defense Project
The Liberty Defense Project is the first-in-the-nation, state-led public-private project to assist immigrants, regardless of status, in obtaining access to legal services and process. In 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a historic $11.4 million investment in this project.
The Liberty Defense Project is administered by the state’s Office for New Americans and is run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, major colleges and universities, and bar associations.
The Liberty Defense Project provides:
Free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York State;
Direct representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings as well as other cases;
Help with filing immigration applications for naturalization, employment authorization, permanent residency, etc.; and
Know Your Rights trainings for immigrants and community at large.
Angela Fernandez, Esq, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “In light of the federal government’s termination of TPS for 277,000 El Salvadorians, we celebrate Governor Cuomo’s forethought in creating the Liberty Defense Program of the NYS Office of New Americans. The Liberty Defense Program allows organizations like ours, and other across the state, provide the highest quality immigration legal defense to those who are most disenfranchised. And in this case, it will mean the difference between being deported or being able to remain in the only country many TPS holders call home.”
Elise Damas, Lawyer for Central American Refugee Center, said, “The federal government’s decision to end TPS will be disastrous for our Salvadoran neighbors across New York State, but in the face of this injustice we must stand up and fight. New York State has always welcomed new Americans and we will not allow anti-immigrant sentiments in Washington to change that.”
“New York is a beacon for immigrant rights, and our legal partners are critical to protecting these populations,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “The Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project stand ready to assist our diverse immigrant communities in navigating the drastic changes put forth by the federal government.”
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.
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 theNational 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 facenew 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.
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.
Laura Curran made history when she was sworn in as Nassau County’s first woman County Executive. In her inaugural speech, delivered on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in bone-chilling cold, she reaffirmed her commitment to restoring trust and respect for government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo did the honors of administering the oath of office, noting that since his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, passed away on January 1 two years ago, just a short time after seeing his son give his second inaugural speech, he has preferred to mark the day quietly, but could not resist being part of Curran’s inauguration. “Because this is a special day, and these are no ordinary times and Laura Curran is no ordinary person.”
“On a selfish level,” he said, “I am excited to have a great partner as county executive. We’re doing a lot of great things in Nassau. We’re rebuilding the Long Island Railroad finally, finally, finally. Six-billion-dollar project. We are cleaning up the groundwater with the Grumman plume, we’re going to make that happen this year. We’re fixing our parks. We’re doing a lot together, to have a good partner.
“And we are under assault by a federal government that is very good at doing bad things to the state of New York. Their tax reform plan can really unsettle this state. It’s a real challenge for Nassau with the deductibility of state and local taxes, it’s going to make the finances worse. We’re going to need a leader with real courage, real energy and a leader who understands there is no simple solution.
“I am excited that Laura is not a typical politician because there are no typical solutions to what we’re going through. Laura has the strength, the courage, the leadership, that we need to make a difference and go forward. We are honored and blessed to have her.”
Curran, in her inaugural speech, acknowledged what Cuomo is doing including the Long Island Railroad third track and bringing back the Islanders to Nassau, with the $1 billion Belmont project.
But she emphasized the overarching challenge to her administration: restoring trust and respect for government.
She said that no county official would hold an office in a political party and staff would be barred from donating or participating in fundraising for her campaign.
“We face serious challenges – getting our financial house in order and firing NIFA; making assessments fair; dynamic economic development to grow the tax base, attract good jobs at good wages and keep our young people.”
She focused on her vision for smart development of downtowns, finally moving forward with the transformation of the Hub to economic viability.
“We can meet these challenges if we recognize these are not partisan issues, they are Nassau issues.”
She thanked the County Legislature for voting unanimously to create the Office of Inspector General.
“We must protect our communities, our environment, our diverse population.
“I’m here to make the tough decisions. I have heard your call. Now it is time for action.”
Also on hand with congratulatory remarks were Senator Charles Schumer, who mercifully tore up his speech except to acknowledge Curran’s achievement as Nassau County’s first woman executive, in what has signs of being “The Year of the Woman.”
Also participating in the program were Mayor Francis Murray of the Village of Rockville Centre; Pastor Stephen Lewis of Bethel AME Church, Monsignor Steven R. Camp of the Church of St. Patrick, Imam Mufti Farhan of the Islamic Center of Long Island, and Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola.
Congresswoman Katherine Rice, NYS Assemblyman Tony D’Urso, Hempstead’s newly inaugurated Town Supervision Laura Gillen, Suffolk County Executive Steve Ballone, the incoming Comptroller Jack Schnirman and reelected County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, plus most of the County Legislators were in attendance.
Curran was also supported by Congressman Tom Suozzi, who she acknowledged as having been a predecessor, along with Tom Gulotta, a Republican, who was in the audience. She acknowledged the help that outgoing County Executive Ed Mangano provided during the transition.
Despite the frigid cold (hand warmers were provided), the inauguration was well attended.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states.
Here is text of the letter:
Dear President Trump,
I write to you on an issue that impacts every single American: pending federal tax legislation. I am not writing as a Democratic Governor to a Republican President, but rather as one New Yorker who cares about New York and the country to another. I often say to the New York State legislature, “we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first.”
As you well know, the House is expected to release additional details of a “tax cut” plan this week that in reality amounts to a “tax increase” plan for states like New York. The current proposal primarily uses New York and California as the piggybank to make it possible to cut taxes for other states. By eliminating or rolling back state and local tax deductibility, Washington is sending a death blow to New York’s middle class families and our economy.
I understand the politics at play here. California and New York are “blue states.” I also understand that the political map dictates that most Republican members of Congress come from outside the Northeast and West Coast and their primary motivation is to help their states at any cost, even when it comes at the cost of middle class New Yorkers. But when the economies of New York and California suffer, and they will, the nation follows.
It’s clear this is a hostile political act aimed at the economic heart of New York with no basis on the merits. First, it is an illegal and unconstitutional double taxation that forces our middle class families to subsidize a tax cut for the rest of the nation, and it is contrary to every principle the Republican Party has always espoused. Second, it reverses all the bipartisan progress New York State has made in lowering taxes over these past few years. While we have lowered state income taxes, capped property taxes and are forcing local governments to consider shared services, this federal act would erase all those gains and in fact increase taxes. Eliminating state and local deductibility will result in a tax increase of $5,660 on average for one in three taxpayers in New York, or 3.3 million New Yorkers.
This backward tax plan has encountered much deserved resistance, including from Republicans in the Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said “I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere,” adding that state and local tax deductibility is “a system that’s worked very well.” In the face of this pushback, Republican leadership is now trying to salvage their tax plan with a so-called “compromise.” Their scheme is to allow a property tax deduction, but do away with the deduction for state income taxes. For middle class New York families, the average tax increase attributable to losing that deduction would be $1,715. And considering the original federal proposal would cost New York State taxpayers $18.6 billion, this “compromise” does little to help our state since it would still cost New York State taxpayers nearly $15 billion.
Another “compromise” that is being suggested, where only higher income individuals would lose the state and local deductibility, is a 3-card Monte game that could be played on 42nd Street in Manhattan. New Yorkers are not stupid. We know that if deductibility is eliminated on higher incomes it will have a ripple effect, forcing these New Yorkers to move out of the state, taking their tax revenue with them, thus increasing taxes on everyone else. New York will not be in a position to cut state taxes because both the original proposal, as well as the proposed compromise, will force the highest taxpayers from the state and deplete our revenue stream. As you know, five percent of New York State taxpayers account for nearly two thirds of our annual income tax revenue.
I understand why Paul Ryan would seek to hurt New York, but to ask New York Republican members of Congress to vote to raise taxes on their constituents is a betrayal against their state and their constituents. In fact, seven of nine Republicans from New York are against it. The two representatives who support it—Congressmen Collins and Reed—are the Benedict Arnolds of their time because they are putting their own political benefit above the best interests of their constituents.
Speaker Ryan’s only justification is that other states subsidize New York. He is just wrong. They don’t. The opposite is true. New York subsidizes every other state in the nation. We are the highest donor state which means we send $48 billion more in tax dollars to the federal government than we receive back in federal spending.
To be fair, this is not a new idea to pillage New York and California and send their wealth to other states. Congress tried it under President Reagan, but the gross injustice of it caused all but the most partisan and callous officials to drop support. Today’s proposals are no different. Our Congressional representatives should be saying it’s time New Yorkers get their money back. Instead, the current proposal would be taking even more revenue from the number one donor state. How unfair.
There is no middle ground here. Any of the proposed “compromises” will still destroy New York’s economy and harm the middle class. There can be no elimination, no “compromise,” and no cap on state and local tax deductibility.
New York needs your help. You can stop this. And you should not just as an American, but as a New Yorker.
New York State is holding a global competition to find the best ideas to re-imagine the New York State Canal System so it becomes an engine for economic growth upstate as well as a world-class tourist destination. The competition, run by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation, is awarding up to $2.5 million to develop and implement the winning ideas.
“The Canal System is a vital part of New York’s storied past and it is critical that it continues to be an essential component of our state’s future,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We’re looking for bold and innovative ideas that ensure the canal system and its surrounding communities can grow and prosper and with this competition, we encourage bright minds from across the globe to contribute their best ideas to help bring this piece of history to new heights.”
“Originally labeled Clinton’s Folly, the Erie Canal went on to become one of the most significant transportation milestones in our history, putting Upstate NY on the path to a century of prosperity,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “It is fitting that now, as we celebrate its bicentennial, we re-imagine how this iconic Canal can once again become an engine for economic growth across New York State.”
The competition was announced as New York continues the celebration of the bicentennial of the beginning of construction on the Erie Canal, in Rome, N.Y., on July 4, 1817. Next year, the State will mark the centennial of the 524-mile state Canal System, which includes the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego canals.
“There are many people in the public and private sector who are passionate about the canals,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, which operates the state Canal System as a subsidiary. “We want to translate that passion into sustainable projects that will make the canal corridor bigger and better.”
Quiniones unveiled the competition today at the World Canals Conference in Syracuse, where hundreds of canal experts and enthusiasts from three continents are meeting this week.
“The building of the Erie Canal took persistence, vision and overcoming deep skepticism, but its construction transformed this nation,” Brian U. Stratton, New York State Canal Corporation director said. “Now, we want to transform the canals so they become go-to travel and recreation destinations. The entries can come from anywhere. Good ideas have no boundaries.”
The goals of the competition include soliciting programs and initiatives that promote:
The Canal System and its trails as a tourist destination and recreational asset for New York residents and visitors;
Sustainable economic development along the Canal System;
The Canal System’s heritage; and
The long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation
The competition will seek entries on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreation use and tourism.
In the first round, entrants will provide information about how their proposal meets core competition goals and outlines the applicant’s qualifications. Finalists will each receive $50,000 to implement their ideas for the second round, where they will partner with either a municipality along the Canal System or a non-profit engaged in canal-related work. A panel of judges will select two or more winners to receive between $250,000 and $1.5 million to plan their projects and implement them.
Submissions for the first round are due Dec. 4. The final winners will be announced next spring.
As the fate of Americans’ health care falls in the hands of 13 Republican Senators conferring in secret without input from Democrats let alone health care experts or patients, deciding how much of the “harsh” House plan they incorporate into their own bill, it may well fall to states to take matters into their own hands. Indeed, New York State may provide the model for health care, just as California has dictated pollution standards to the auto manufacturing industry, exceeding federal standards.
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the New York State Department of Financial Services to promulgate new emergency regulations mandating health insurance providers do not discriminate against New Yorkers with preexisting conditions or based on age or gender, in addition to safeguarding the 10 categories of protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. The new first-in-the-nation measures will ensure that essential health services are protected and covered for all New Yorkers regardless of efforts at the federal level to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare.
At the Governor’s direction, the Department of Health will ban all insurers who withdraw from offering Qualified Health Plans on the State Health Marketplace from future participation in any program that interacts with the marketplace, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan. New York is home to one of the most robust health marketplaces in the country, and insurers who do not comply will lose access to such profitable programs. The Governor will also direct state agencies and authorities to ban insurers who withdraw from the State Health Marketplace from contracting with the state and to consider all available actions to protect New Yorker’s access to quality healthcare.
Furthermore, the administration finalized regulations that will ensure that contraceptive drugs and devices are covered by commercial health insurance policies without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles no matter federal action. The regulations also ensure all medically necessary abortion services are covered by commercial health insurance policies without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.
“We will not stand idly by as ultra-conservatives in Washington try to roll back the progress we have made to expand access quality, affordable health care, putting our most vulnerable New Yorkers at risk,” Governor Cuomo said. “As long as I am Governor, New Yorkers will not be subject to price discrimination based on age, gender, or pre-existing conditions, and essential health benefits will continue to be the rule, not the exception. These aggressive actions will make certain that no matter what happens in Congress, the people of New York will not have to worry about losing access to the quality medical care they need and deserve.”
Under the new regulations, DFS will require that individual and small group accident and health insurance policies, which provide hospital, surgical, or medical expense coverage, as well as student accident and health insurance policies cover the same categories of essential health benefits and be subject to the same benchmark plan rules that currently apply through the Affordable Care Act. Insurers must comply with the new regulations as a requirement of their license in New York.
Ambulatory patient services, such as office visits, ambulatory surgical services, dialysis, radiology services, chemotherapy, infertility treatment, abortion services, hospice care, and diabetic equipment, supplies and self-management education;
Emergency services, such as emergency room, urgent care services, and ambulance services;
Hospitalization, such as preadmission testing, inpatient physician and surgical services, hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, and hospice care;
Maternity and newborn care, such as delivery, prenatal and postnatal care, and breastfeeding education and equipment;
Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, such as inpatient and outpatient services for the diagnosis and treatment of mental, nervous and emotional disorders, screening, diagnosis and treatment for autism spectrum disorder, and inpatient and outpatient services for the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorder;
Prescription drugs, such as coverage for generic, brand name and specialty drugs, enteral formulas, contraceptive drugs and devices, abortifacient drugs, and orally administered anti-cancer medication;
Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, such as durable medical equipment, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, hearing aids, chiropractic care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and home health care;
Laboratory services, such as diagnostic testing;
Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, such as well child visits, immunizations, mammography, gynecological exams including cervical cytology screening, bone density measurements or testing, and prostate cancer screening; and
Pediatric services, including oral and vision care, such as preventive and routine vision and dental care, and prescription lenses and frames.
The Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services may issue model contract language identifying the coverage requirements for all individual and small group accident and health insurance policies that provide hospital, surgical, or medical expense coverage and all student accident and health insurance policies delivered or issued for delivery in New York State.
DFS will also mandate under existing New York law that health insurers:
Provide coverage for all contraceptive drugs and devices and cover at least one form of contraception in each of the FDA-approved contraceptive delivery methods without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles, regardless of the future of the Affordable Care Act.
Provide coverage for the dispensing of an initial three-month supply of a contraceptive to an insured person. For subsequent dispensing of the same contraceptive covered under the same policy or renewal, an insurer must allow coverage for the dispensing of the entire prescribed contraceptive supply, up to 12 months, at the same time.
Provide coverage for abortion services that are medically necessary without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles (unless the plan is a high deductible plan).
Provide full and accurate information about coverage, enforced in a letter available here.