Governor Andrew Cuomo sees the opportunity to create a new industry centered largely on Long Island to take advantage of the offshore windpower in an area of the Atlantic Ocean, considered “the Saudi Arabia of windpower.” In this, the state is acting much like other nations which jumpstart new industries by funding critical studies, research centers, workforce development. This is all to ease the way, lessen the risk and increase likelihood of success for the private companies which are expected to vie for leases from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
Cuomo has set a standard of the state generating 50% of its energy needs through renewable by 2030, and offshore wind, in addition to solar, hilltop windpower, hydroelectric and other sources (“all of the above”) are considered essential to meeting that goal, which Cuomo has proudly declared the most ambitious in the nation.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation just released proposed regulations to require all power plants in New York to meet new emissions limits for carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The regulations, a first in the nation approach to regulating carbon emissions, will achieve the Governor’s goal to end the use of coal in New York State power plants by 2020.
Environmental groups including Sierra Club have long advocated offshore wind, especially as Long Island faces a crucial transition juncture of expanding or upgrading fossil-fuel based power plants to meet its energy needs, versus investing and transitioning to renewable energy.
The state is targeting acquiring 2,400 megawatts of energy from offshore wind – the equivalent of what is generated by the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant – enough to power 1.2 million households. The associated industries that would develop to manufacture the wind turbines and platforms, construct ports and stage the equipment, install the turbines, operate and maintain the systems are expected to employ some 5,000 people in relatively high-paying jobs, and generate $6 billion for the region. What is more, over time, windpower will bring down the cost of electricity on Long Island, where high costs of energy are considered impediments to economic growth.
At the same time, the state has invested in new research programs at State Universities, including Stony Brook to address key issues such as storage batteries (for when the wind does not blow), and transmission.
The master plan, being unveiled in public hearings, has been developed over a period of years by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The strategy is to be the furthest along in order to be first in line to contract for the electricity, which could be sold to New Jersey and other regions, to reduce cost and risk to private entities which will bid for the rights to construct and operate the wind turbines. The state is not actually seeking to be the winning bidder for the leases, but to be the customer for the power for those that do. And the state is also aware that other customers – New Jersey, as one example (though the former governor Chris Christie showed little interest, the new governor Phil Murphy is) – will also be bidding. But there is great confidence because of proximity and the sheer market size, that New York City and Long Island residents will be the beneficiary. And there is so much energy potential from this area, there is “enough for all.” Indeed, NYSERDA is eyeing 3,200 MW of production from the sites it has targeted, of which it would contract for 2,400.
NYSERDA has conducted studies in 20 areas –literally every environmental, biologic, economic and engineering aspect – in order to define every aspect of locating the best places to position turbines and cables, where to stage construction, where to manufacture the turbines and components, even where to invest in workforce development. All along the way, the agency has engaged stakeholders – from municipalities and environmentalists to labor unions to consumer advocates, to commercial fishing interests.
The state has allocated $15 million to spend on workforce development and infrastructure advancement (for example, building port facilities), and is allocating up to $5 million for multi-year research studies that will assist project developers with the data will be made available by NYSERDA in real time to public. For example, data on wind speeds particularly impact economics of projects and will improve the certainty of bids to state.
“We are seeking to invest $20 million or more, kicking off in 2018, for research and development – component design, systems design, operational controls, monitoring systems, manufacturing processes,” said Doreen Harris, Director, Large Scale Renewables, NYSERDA.
To attract private investment in port infrastructure and manufacturing, the state is hoping to spotlight promising infrastructure investments (60 sites have been identified), helping jumpstart project development and “secure its status as the undisputed home for the emerging offshore wind industry in the US.”
Think of it: Long Island used to be the center for America’s aerospace industry. Now it can be a leader in a global offshore windpower industry. What is more, off shore windpower can also bring down Long Island’s historically high utility rates which are considered an impediment to business development and economic growth.
“We’ve established technical working groups to determine best use of funds – to insure new Yorkers well prepared to serve offshore wind industry and connected to the global Industry.” Indeed, offshore wind is brand new for the US, but has been in force in Europe for 25 years.
The United States projects will have the benefit of leap-frogging over earlier technology, with more efficient, productive, and less environmentally risky structures.
The state is estimating that the near-term incremental program cost would be less than 30 cents a month for a typical homeowner – the cost of windpower is front-loaded in the initial construction, as opposed to fossil-fuel generated energy which continues to get more expensive over time because it is a finite resource that is increasingly more difficult and costly to obtain and needs to be transported from further distances to users. Electricity generated from wind is already competitive with fossil-fuel generated power, but over time, as usage thresholds and technology improvements are reached, the costs will go down. And this does not even factor in the environmental and public health benefits of transitioning from carbon-based fuel.
The only kicker is that while New York State is being pro-active, it is BOEM that ultimately controls the leases and is undertaking similar studies, so people are concerned this can be unnecessarily time-consuming and duplicative. And while BOEM under the Obama Administration was full-speed ahead and keen to develop offshore windpower, concern was raised after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared the entire continental shelf open for drilling, and this prime windpower area used instead for drilling rigs or equally horrible Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals such as the Port Ambrose that had been beaten back by Governor Cuomo.
But BOEM’s Energy Program Specialist Luke Feinberg, who attended NYSERDA’s May 8 public hearing in Melville expressed enthusiasm for offshore wind in this area (not to mention the area does not seem to have much potential for oil). BOEM presented a timetable that projects out two to five years before actual construction can begin; BOEM intends to hold its next lease auction no later than 2019.
BOEM is taking comments on the proposed “New York Bight” Call Area by May 29. Submit comments and view documents at boem.gov/New-York/
The New York Public Service Commission is now considering a number of options for the state to advance solicitations once the leases are awarded; send comments or view materials at http://documents.dps.ny.gov.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas as Special Prosecutor to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute, “any and all matters” concerning the public allegations against Eric Schneiderman, who has resigned as the state’s Attorney General after being accused by four women of sexual assault.
In a letter to Acting Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, who was formerly the state’s Solicitor General, and Singas, Governor Cuomo referenced the New Yorker article dated May 7, 2018 titled “Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse.”.
Singas is the former head of the Special Victims’ Bureau at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the founding member of the Domestic Violence Bureau at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, so she has specific and extensive expertise in this area, the Governor noted.
“In addition to investigating the specific allegations outlined against Schneiderman in the article, the Special Prosecutor shall investigate facts in the article suggesting that the Attorney General staff and office resources may have been used to facilitate alleged abusive liaisons referenced in the article.
“The Special Prosecutor shall have the powers and duties specified in subdivision 2 of section 63 of the Executive Law for purposes of this review, and shall possess and exercise all the prosecutorial powers necessary to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute the alleged incidents.”
The Special Prosecutor is also charged with working with District Attorney Tim Sini of Suffolk County regarding the incident that reportedly occurred in the Hamptons located in Suffolk County, as well as with any other District Attorneys who have relevant fact patterns.
“The Special Prosecutor’s jurisdiction will displace and supersede the jurisdiction of the New York County District Attorney’s Office (“DANY”), as there appears, at a minimum, an appearance of a conflict of interest with the Attorney General’s Office, which is currently investigating the relationship and actions between DANY and the New York Police Department and their handling of alleged illegal acts including sexual harassment and assault, by producer Harvey Weinstein.
“There can be no suggestion of any possibility of the reality or appearance of any conflict or anything less than a full, complete and unbiased investigation. The victims deserve nothing less.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the third round of NaturalizeNY – the first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to encourage eligible immigrants in New York State in becoming U.S. citizens. Citizenship benefits immigrants through stronger protections from deportation, the right to vote and run for elected office, and the ability to assist more family members with immigrating to the United States.
“We are in unprecedented times, where the federal government is openly hostile to immigrants, putting blockades and walls in place to prevent them from achieving the American dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are a nation of immigrants, and New York will always fight to remove barriers to inclusion, including those that put low-income families at another disadvantage.”
Indeed, Donald Trump, who has refused to fix the DACA program, leaving 800,000 who were brought here as children in a state of perpetual anxiety, and has canceled the Temporary Immigration Status of tens of thousands of Honduras, Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans and others, said this week we might “have to think about closing up the country” if he doesn’t get his border wall. Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Congress has shown no inclination to address comprehensive immigration reform, or even provide a path to legalization for DACA recipients.
NaturalizeNY is administered and supported by Governor Cuomo’s Office for New Americans in partnership with Robin Hood, New York Community Trust, Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab, as well as faculty from SUNY Albany and George Mason University.
The initiative assists low-income immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship. Eligible immigrants may register and enter a lottery for a voucher to cover the $725 naturalization application fee. Applicants may apply online at www.NaturalizeNY.org, via the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636 or by visiting an ONA Opportunity Center. The registration period runs from May 1 – June 15, 2018.
Since 2016, 916 immigrant New Yorkers were offered vouchers through the program to cover naturalization fees. More than 3,000 immigrants entered the program seekinghelp to pursue citizenship. Up to 900 vouchers are expected to be awarded this year.
“My grandparents struggled with poverty in Ireland, and came to the United States looking for a better life,”said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “For many this is the quintessential American experience that binds us — regardless of whether the immigrants came a century ago or last week. It is that legacy of inclusion that has earned us the respect of people from around the world. Regardless of what occurs in Washington, the immigrant experience in our state is far more positive because of programs like this. We remain committed to helping them become citizens as they raise families, become entrepreneurs, start small businesses, and pursue new lives in communities throughout our state.”
NaturalizeNY registrants must be naturalization-eligible lawful permanent residents (green card holders) residing in New York State and have incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. They must not be eligible for a federal fee waiver.Registrants who win a voucher will be notified at the end of June and referred to an Office for New Americans Opportunity Center to complete the naturalization application and receive their voucher.
Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers provide comprehensive support through the naturalization process – featuring free eligibility screenings, application assistance, and naturalization exam preparation.
The federal government only grants U.S. citizenship to immigrants with lawful status after the individual fulfills the requirements established by Congress. The process of becoming a citizen, referred to as naturalization, generally includes an extensive application to the federal government, submission of fingerprints to be used for a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing a language and civics exam, and an interview with a federal immigration officer. After this process, an immigrant is not yet a U.S. citizen until after the individual takes the Oath of Allegiance at a citizenship ceremony.
“From the Office for New Americans, the Liberty Defense Project, and NaturalizeNY, Governor Cuomo has put in place robust resources for our immigrant communities,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “New York will continue to serve as a model for the rest of the nation on how we treat our neighbors. The NaturalizeNY lottery delivers the promise of hope to New Yorkers seeking to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.”
NaturalizeNY also provides free comprehensive support through the naturalization process, including eligibility screenings, application assistance, naturalization exam preparation, and federal fee waiver application assistance. In addition to expanding opportunity for New Yorkers, NaturalizeNY will also provide a boost to the state’s economy.
NaturalizeNY lifts the financial barrier to citizenship faced by New Yorkers, creating opportunity for immigrants and New York’s diverse communities. According to the U.S. Census, 915,000 New Yorkers hold a green card and are eligible for citizenship, including approximately 654,720 in New York City. Recent research from Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab found that the cost of the application was a major barrier to these immigrants seeking citizenship. The threshold to have the federal fee waived means New Yorkers could be blocked from becoming citizens because of the financial barrier. For example, an individual earning $35,000 a year makes too much to qualify for a federal fee waiver, and the cost of applying for citizenship works out to the equivalent of about a week’s pay. While the federal fee waiver is available to individuals whose household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, NaturalizeNY is open to those who are at 150 – 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Immigrants who become citizens see an almost 9 percent increase in earnings, according to a 2015 Urban Institute study. This leads to higher tax revenue and lower reliance on public benefits.
To support up to 1,800 citizenship applicants, New York State, Robin Hood and the New York Community Trust are investing more than $1.2 million to cover the $725 application fee through fee assistance vouchers. The funding will be paid directly to the federal government by the campaign partners and cover the full cost of the naturalization process. Vouchers will be awarded following the lottery in June, and administered by personnel from the Office for New Americans and Stanford University.
NaturalizeNY is part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to help immigrants and minority populations fully participate in New York’s civic and economic life. The Office for New Americans, the nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Since its inception, the Office for New Americans has helped more than 200,000 New Americans navigate the naturalization process, start and grow their own businesses, learn English, and become part of New York’s diverse cultural fabric. Of these:
19,543 were Naturalization and DACA applications and referrals;
34,938 participated in ESOL classes throughout the state;
4,986 partook in entrepreneurship classes across New York;
500 graduated with at least 20 hours of English language coursework via Cell-Ed, a phone-based English learning system for individuals who have difficulty reaching an actual classroom; and
1,540 are actively engaged in Cell-Ed throughout the state.
The Office for New Americans work is enhanced by the New Americans hotline – 800-566-7636 – where individuals can obtain free, multi-lingual services and file fraud complaints. Since its inception, more than 150 complaints against fraudulent legal service providers made to the hotline have resulted in referrals to appropriate District Attorneys’ offices.
In addition to providing free, direct assistance to individuals, the Office for New Americans has conducted more than 6,000 seminars and meetings to educate New Yorkers on how to apply for a passport, how to apply for college, what to do if/when immigration officers come to their homes, what avenues are available for victims of domestic violence, and more.
The Office for New Americans also established a network of navigators throughout the state with a focus on providing accurate and reliable information to immigrant and refugee communities. These Office for New Americans navigators lead roundtable discussions with affiliated groups and advocates, workforce development programs, community conversations to forge relationships between communities, and trainings for additional navigators to further the Office for New Americans mission.
The Office for New Americans also recently launched another first-in-the-nation program to support parents and families caring for unaccompanied and/or undocumented children through a partnership with the Children’s Village and its Office for New Americans Centers at Central American Refugee Center in Long Island and Neighbors Link in Westchester County.
The successful Office for New Americans Opportunity Center model was recognized in 2017 at the United Nations’ Fourth Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development in Berlin, Germany, marking the first time a state-led integration effort was recognized at a U.N. event.
The Office for New Americans has recently increased outreach in the wake of 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 Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries and will be impacted by the federal government’s decision to end recognition.
Liberty Defense Project
Created by Governor Cuomo in 2017 in response to hostile federal policies, the Liberty Defense Project is the nation’s first state-led project to assist immigrants -regardless of status – in obtaining access to legal services and process. The Liberty Defense Project provides essential legal services on deportation defense, direct representation, consultations, application assistance, and more. The public-private partnership is administered by the Office for New Americans and run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state.
Since July 2017, the Liberty Defense Project provided more than 10,000 free and confidential services to individuals needing legal assistance through its network of 47 community-based groups.
Immigrants and Refugees in New York State
According to the American Immigration Council:
One in five New Yorkers is an immigrant – 4.5 million, or 22.9 percent of the state’s population in 2015. One in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.
Immigrants make up more than 25 percent of New York’s labor force and contribute billions of dollars in federal and state taxes.
New York’s immigrant-led households added to the state’s economy by spending more than $103 billion in after-tax income in 2014 alone.
There are 347,573 immigrant business owners, accounting for 33.8 percent of all self-employed New York residents in 2015 and generating $7.2 billion in business income.
Nearly 44,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients live in New York,according to USCIS.
Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the State Assembly’s Taskforce on New Americans said, “As the federal government becomes increasingly more aggressive towards our New American communities, we are reminded that citizenship is a pin of safety, and we must continue to ensure accessibility to naturalization services. I commend Governor Cuomo for this valuable initiative.”
Shawn Morehead, program director overseeing The New York Community Trust’s work on immigration, said, “We want the newest New Yorkers to work, vote, and feel safe in our City. The Trust has a long history of helping the City’s immigrants participate fully in the city’s economy and democracy, and we’re thrilled to continue this tradition by underwriting the cost of applying for citizenship for hundreds of our neighbors.”
José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s leading Latino nonprofit membership organization, said, “As our immigrant brothers and sisters face a relentless assault from our federal government, NaturalizeNY is an important rejoinder that in New York we honor our state’s past, present, and future by investing in and supporting our immigrants. With Latinos representing the largest immigrant community in the Empire State, the Hispanic Federation and its network of Latino Community-based organizations applaud Governor Cuomo’s renewal of NaturalizeNYand remain committed to working with his Office for New Americans in enabling immigrants to become US citizens and break down financial barriers that are often in their way of naturalizing.”
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, said,“Catholic Charities is proud to again play a key role in this year’s NaturalizeNY lottery, helping New Yorkers across the state to register through the New Americans Hotline. This initiative by NYS to encourage citizenship is more important than ever at a time when anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have continued to tear the very fabric of our society. We are a nation of immigrants. We are stronger and revitalized by welcoming and integrating immigrants into the United States.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, said, “We thank the Governor for renewing NaturalizeNY for a third year to support low-income immigrants seeking financial assistance to cover their citizenship application fees – some of who benefited through our Opportunity Center. At a time where immigrant engagement is more important than ever, this program provides an opportunity for our community members to gain further access to civic and voter participation. We hope many in our diverse Asian immigrant communities will take advantage of this initiative.”
Governor also Announces Legislation to Extend Background Check Waiting Period from Three Days to 10 Days
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in state law that will ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms, not just handguns. The Governor also announced he is advancing new legislation to extend the waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System from three days to 10 days.
“In a time when gun violence continues to relentlessly torment communities across the country while our federal government refuses to act, New York must lead the charge to end this epidemic once and for all,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this legislation, we can sever the undeniable connection between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence, and continue to build upon the strongest gun laws in the nation.”
“My mother dedicated her life to helping victims of domestic violence and our family started a home to help these survivors,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.“We’ve seen firsthand the fear created when a gun is present in the home of an abuser. This new law today is a dramatic step forward eliminating the vulnerability of these women and their children. While the federal government fails to address the issue of gun violence, we continue to fight to keep guns out of the hands of those who could devastate our communities and our residents.”
Removing Guns from Domestic Abusers
Previously, New York law narrowly prohibited the possession of firearms for individuals either convicted of a felony or a limited number of misdemeanor “serious” offenses, excluding many misdemeanor offenses that are undeniably serious. This bill (S.8121 Phillips/A10272 O’Donnell), which the Governor signed in ceremony today, expands the list of “serious” crimes that require the loss of a gun license and the surrender of all firearms to ensure no domestic abuser in New York retains the ability to possess a firearm once convicted of a disturbing crime.
In addition, this legislation will preclude any individual wanted for a felony or other serious offense from obtaining or renewing a firearm license. Under previous New York law, despite being subject to an arrest warrant, an individual was still legally eligible to obtain a firearm license even as police worked to locate and detain them. This change ensures that the law enforcement who are actively seeking to arrest a wanted individual, as well as innocent bystanders, are not needlessly endangered by a wanted individual who has been able to obtain new firearms.
Extending the Waiting Period
Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation to establish a 10-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Current federal law requires gun dealers to conduct the NICS background check on a potential purchaser prior to selling a firearm, which immediately provides the dealer with one of three possible notifications. These notifications include “proceed”, “denied”, or “delayed”. In the case of a “delayed” response, the dealer must wait three days before the sale is eligible to go through, even though the FBI continues to investigate these individuals past the three-day timeframe. Oftentimes, by the time it has been determined that the potential purchaser was, in fact, ineligible, the individual has already been sold the firearm upon completion of the three-day waiting period. Extending the waiting period to ten days would allow sufficient time to complete the expanded background check and builds on legislative efforts to ensure that only those eligible to own a firearm are able to do so.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said,“Today, New York continues its inspirational leadership in addressing the gun violence epidemic by enacting legislation that recognizes the deadly connection between intimate partner abuse and the tragedy of gun violence. Yet, while New York leads, Republicans in Congress refuse to act. As gun violence and domestic abuse exact a daily toll of horror and heartbreak in communities across the country, saving lives and protecting families shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Democrats know that there is a commonsense, bipartisan path forward and we will continue to press for progress on this critical issue.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said,“I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo as he signs legislation to remove all guns from domestic abusers. These measures will close dangerous loopholes in our gun laws and enhance public safety. There is simply no reason why one who has committed an act of domestic violence should maintain ownership of a firearm. Since the Republican Congress has failed to address the national epidemic of gun violence, I commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership in working to enact reasonable gun safety legislation that will protect New Yorkers.”
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said,“We know that individuals with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is in the house. This bill, to remove guns from domestic abusers, is just commonsense. I was proud to stand with Governor Cuomo today as he signed this important bill that will save lives into law.”
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said,“Gun violence is a plague on our nation and our city that too often shatters lives. The steps being announced today will help keep firearms away from those who should never have access to them. We must do more and Congress must act at the federal level. Nonetheless this effort is a good start and shows New York is leading the way to tackle this horrible problem.”
“Domestic violence affects all communities,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat said. “ commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in New York to ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms. Domestic violence impacts each of our communities, and today we are standing united with victims, survivors and families of domestic abuse to say enough is enough. I vow to continue my work in Congress to end domestic abuse and violence. Today’s landmark legislation is a historic step in our efforts to protect the victims of domestic violence and help keep individuals and our communities safe.”
Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence said, “The connections between domestic violence and gun violence cannot be clearer. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the members of the New York State Legislature who voted to take a strong stand to remove firearms from domestic violence offenders. The urgency to act was irrefutable, and New York has now made a significant step forward in preventing domestic violence homicides. Because of Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will now have a strong safeguard in place for protecting countless New Yorkers.”
Kris Brown, Co-President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said, “The numbers are very clear. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are far more likely to end in death. By requiring domestic abusers to surrender their firearms, Governor Cuomo closed a glaring loophole in state law. I applaud the Governor’s action, as his advocacy for common sense gun laws will help save the lives of vulnerable people all across our state and prevent family fire.”
“As our nation grapples with how to confront the spread of gun violence, we are proud to work and live in a State who has such a leader on this issue: Governor Cuomo,” said Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice. “At Her Justice, where we provide free legal assistance to thousands of victims of partner violence every year, we know all too well how dangerous guns are in the context of abuse in the home. This new legislation will ensure guns are taken out of the hands of more convicted domestic abusers. Thank you, Governor, for moving us forward.”
Cicely Fields, Domestic and Gun Violence Survivor said, “As a domestic violence survivor, I am a living testimony to why the signing of this bill today is so important. I know firsthand the connection between domestic violence and gun violence is undeniable, as my abuser was able to possess a firearm that injured me within inches of my life. The wound may have healed, but I will still be physically damaged for the rest of my life and my four children, who rely on me for support, will continue to suffer due to the actions of this domestic abuser. I thank Governor Cuomo for ensuring the passage of this law.”
June Rubin, Volunteer Co-Leader for the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said, “Today we took another important step towards protecting New Yorkers from gun violence. While this is a meaningful day, we know this legislation is just one of many steps needed to prevent future acts of gun violence. We look forward to working with lawmakers and Governor Cuomo on future steps such as the passage of lifesaving Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation.”
“Under previous law, where people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor were able keep their firearms, the lives of both their victims and the general public were unnecessarily put at risk,” Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, this legislation ensures that everyone convicted of a domestic violence crime is held to the same standard, guaranteeing that these dangerous individuals will lose their gun license and their firearms. This is common sense legislation that was long overdue, and we applaud the Governor for seeing it through.”
“Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when their abuser owns a firearm,” Senator Elaine Phillips said. “I thank the Governor for signing this legislation into state law, which requires the removal of firearms from individuals convicted of domestic violence. This commonsense legislation keeps firearms out of the hands of those who are convicted of domestic violence, closes the gap in federal law, protects women, men and children from their abusers and will prevent further tragedies.”
Senator Diane Savino said, “This legislation continues our work to strengthen New York State’s nation-leading gun laws. We are closing a loophole that allowed people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor to keep their firearms, and by doing so we are further protecting the victims of domestic violence across this state. No one should have to live in fear of their abusers, and thanks to working with Governor Cuomo on this legislation, we are helping to ensure that they no longer have to.”
Under Governor Cuomo, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation and with the passing of this legislation, New York’s gun laws have been further strengthened to ensure that the well-known link between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence can be eliminated. In nine of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in United States history, including Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, the shooter had an existing record of committing violence against women, threatening violence against women, or harassing or disparaging women. In addition, when an abusive partner is permitted to access firearms, the risk that the other partner will be killed increases fivefold. In 2016, firearms were used in 35 domestic homicides in New York.
In addition to continued progressive improvements to New York’s gun legislation, Governor Cuomo led the creation of the “States for Gun Safety” coalition in February of this year to combat the gun violence epidemic in the face of continued federal inaction. Together with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, New York State entered into an agreement to trace and intercept illegal guns, better share information on individuals prohibited from buying or owning firearms, and create the first-in-the-nation regional gun violence research consortium. Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico have also joined the coalition, which now represents over 35 million Americans.
A key scientific advisory committee on climate change, disbanded by the federal government late last year and subsequently reconvened by New York State, will hold its first meeting in New York City this week. The committee, officially titled the Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment, is a group of leading scientists and experts tasked with providing recommendations to help federal, state and local government, communities, and the private sector plan for the effects of climate change. The federal committee was disbanded by the Trump administration in late 2017 and reconvened by Governor Cuomo in his 2018 State of the State address.
“Denial is no life strategy and pretending that climate change doesn’t exist is harmful to the very future of this planet,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.“The work of these experts must continue without political interference and we’re proud to host this group in New York.”
The reconstituted group, formerly known as the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, will carry on its vital work advising on how to provide decision-makers the ability to better understand the impacts of climate change on their organizations and communities, and what they can do to plan for those impacts. The 19-member Independent Advisory Committee, chaired by Richard Moss, Visiting Senior Research Scientist at The Earth Institute of Columbia University, is meeting in New York City from May 1 to May 3. The committee will collaborate to develop strategies for deeper engagement by states and cities in the National Climate Assessment, a federal government interagency effort on climate change science mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. To learn more about the Independent committee’s work, please go to climateassessment.org.
Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said,“Under Governor Cuomo, we are once again picking up the mantle of leadership by ensuring scientists and climate change experts can convene to do their important work to combat climate change. I’m proud New York is supporting the Advisory Committee and look forward to their recommendations.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “While the federal government is willfully ignoring science, New York is embracing it. We stand ready to provide leadership in responding to the critical challenge of climate change and work with these experts to strategically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster the resilience of our communities. At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York is redoubling our efforts to reduce emissions and speed our transition to renewable energy, which will benefit our state with cleaner air, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and provide new jobs for New Yorkers.”
Richard Moss, Visiting Senior Research Scientist at The Earth Institute of Columbia University and Chair of the Independent Advisory Committee, said,“We know that many states and cities are looking for better information to advance their climate preparedness. Scientists are improving knowledge that can support climate action, and our advice is designed to help the National Climate Assessment better evaluate and make that information available. We are extremely grateful that Governor Cuomo, on behalf of NY State, is joining with Columbia University and the American Meteorological Society in the continuation of the committee’s work.”
Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is taking bold action to meet the challenge of climate change. On June 1, 2017, when the federal government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, New York joined with California and Washington State to form the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the goals of the agreement. The U.S. Climate Alliance has grown to include 17 governors representing nearly half U.S. gross domestic product.
New York has also established a Clean Energy Standard for half of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, complementing Governor Cuomo’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency. The REV strategy is ensuring New York State reduces economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.
Independent Advisory Committee on
Applied Climate Assessment
Richard Moss*, Chair, Columbia University
Susan Avery*, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
New York State has launched the second solicitation for large-scale renewable energy projects under the state’s Clean Energy Standard. The solicitation for up to 20 projects will accelerate New York’s transition to a clean energy economy and is expected to spur up to $1.5 billion in private investment and create more than 1,000 new well-paying jobs for New Yorkers. The solicitation is expected to support 1.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power 200,000 homes, and advance New York’s nation-leading commitment to secure 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
“This administration continues to champion renewable energy projects across New York, and this is a major step forward in our efforts to create clean jobs and set an example for the rest of the nation,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “With this action we will continue to capitalize on our natural assets, expand economic opportunities and lay the groundwork for a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.”
The state is issuing this solicitation as the second in a series of major procurements that are expected to result in the development of dozens of large scale renewable energy projects by 2022 under the Clean Energy Standard. Community engagement and on-the-ground support is crucial for the successful development of renewable energy projects, and the RFP released today includes new standards and requirements for effective community outreach and planning. The RFP also ensures that good-paying jobs will be created by requiring the prevailing wage for applicable positions.
Notable new provisions in this solicitation include:
Requiring that workers associated with the construction of any awarded facility be paid the applicable prevailing wage, a standard set by the New York State Department of Labor, ensuring that the projects will result in quality, good-paying jobs for New Yorkers;
Preserving and protecting New York’s valuable agricultural resources by providing bonus points for renewable energy projects that avoid overlap with land of agricultural importance to New York State;
Ensuring that communities that would host successfully awarded projects are fully aware of the development process, proposers will be required to demonstrate that they have engaged with those communities and have also commenced the associated permitting processes; and
Continuing to encourage proposals that cost-effectively pair renewable energy with advanced energy storage technologies to help meet Governor Cuomo’s commitment to deploying 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025.
The announcement maintains a predictable pace of annual solicitations for renewable energy developers and will support continued development and investment in clean energy projects across New York State.
The move builds on the Governor’s announcement with Vice President Al Gore in March when the state reaffirmed its commitment to cleaner, smarter energy solutions, including the announcement of large-scale renewable energy project awards and a formal request to the federal government for an exclusion from the new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
This solicitation supports NYSERDA’s 2017 solicitation through which a $1.4 billion investment dedicated to renewable energy projects was announced earlier this year. That investment included 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydroelectric project. One of the wind farms features an energy storage component, marking the first time a large-scale renewable energy project has done so in New York State.
The request also builds upon a New York Power Authority solicitation announced last June in concert with NYSERDA’s first solicitation, that will procure 1 million MWh. This investment in large-scale clean energy supply will further expand NYPA’s leadership role as the state’s largest supplier of renewable electricity. NYPA received more than 130 proposals from 51 clean energy developers in response to its RFP. NYPA plans to announce selected developers and customers once contracts are signed, which is expected to be this summer.
These projects will advance the Clean Climate Careers initiative announced by Governor Cuomo in June 2017. The initiative focuses on accelerating renewable energy and energy efficiency to make New York home to 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020. According to the 2017 New York Clean Energy Industry Report, 146,000 New Yorkers were employed in the clean energy sector, including 22,000 in renewable energy power generation.
Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance said, “Investment in clean energy has been a proven catalyst in jump-starting the economy and providing jobs throughout the State. The significant interest the state is seeing from companies to invest in New York’s clean energy agenda is testament to our resolve to ensure generations to come can enjoy the natural resources which surround us.”
Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Making progress in the battle against climate change requires a sustained commitment to supporting clean energy projects that will make our communities stronger and more resilient. Governor Cuomo has set the stage for New York to lead this effort through his bold commitment to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and we expect that this solicitation being announced today will help us maintain the early momentum we witnessed in the last round, and to pick up our pace in the march towards a cleaner future.”
Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO, NYPA said, “Renewable energy is a priority for New York State. With these latest sizeable investments in clean and green energy projects and jobs, we are making great progress toward Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard. Through large-scale renewable projects, we are changing the energy landscape in New York, and ensuring that our energy mix is viable and affordable now and into the future.”
Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee Chair Senator Joseph Griffo said, “The development of renewable resources is crucial to New York’s efforts to become more energy efficient. This announcement is a significant step forward and will support the state’s investments in a clean energy economy and job growth across the state.”
Assembly Energy Committee Chair Michael Cusick said, “While fighting climate change, the State is also investing in our economy by providing jobs for New Yorkers. With this plan, Governor Cuomo is ensuring opportunities for businesses to participate in the State’s agenda to have 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. Once again, New York is leading the nation in creating clean energy.”
Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright said, “I am thrilled to see New York taking more aggressive steps towards meeting our renewable energy goals, and in turn, our climate change mitigation goals. The state must rapidly move to produce clean power for homes and business and create well-paying, stable jobs for New Yorkers. Renewable projects, in concert with smart, economy-wide policies, will show that New York is a trendsetter in climate action.”
The Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds said, “The renewable energy industry is committed to investing in New York to create jobs and help achieve Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals. We applaud the Governor for his commitment to clean energy and for the release of the second solicitation for projects under the Clean Energy Standard. Our member companies look forward to competing for the opportunity to serve New Yorkers and provide pollution-free power.”
Climate Jobs NY Executive Director Ya-Ting Liu said, “New York has become a model for the rest of the country on how to tackle climate change while creating good, middle-class jobs with benefits. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s ongoing commitment to build a robust clean energy economy in New York that supports working families.”
The Nature Conservancy in New York Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer Stuart F. Gruskin said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds Governor Cuomo for continuing progress on New York’s ambitious renewable energy goals and is thrilled to see a new approach in this solicitation to begin to consider land use. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to proactively address siting concerns to ensure clean energy for all New Yorkers while reducing impacts to our critical natural resources.”
Independent Power Producers of New York President & CEO Gavin Donohue said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in moving the Clean Energy Standard forward using competitive auctions. It is important to recognize the benefits of in-state energy resource development to local economies, and a diversity of resources is essential to electric system reliability.”
Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York’s economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven growth of more than 1,000 percent in the statewide solar market, improved energy affordability for 1.65 million low-income customers, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit rev.ny.gov, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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 unveiled the 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity and released the Report on the Status of New York Women and Girls: 2018 Outlook. The Agenda consists of 30 proposals addressing health, safety, workplace, girls and family to advance equality and promote opportunity.
Health: pass comprehensive contraceptive coverage; codify Roe v Wade into state law and Constitution; improve access to IVF and fertility preservation services; launch a multi-agency effort to combat maternal depression; establish the Maternal Mortality Review Board to develop policies that will save lives; add experts in women’s health and health disparities to the State board of Medicine
Safety: Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the state’s constitution to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex; remove firearms from domestic abusers; end sextortion and revenge porn; extend the storage timeline for forensic rape kits a hospitals from 30 days to at least five years or when the victim turns 19; extend human rights law protections to all public school students.
Workplace: combat sexual harassment in the workplace, including a uniform code binding on state government; prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements; cal on the NYS common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership; reauthorize the Minority Women Owned Business Enterprise Program; create a new Women Lead Fellowship; close the gender wage gap; support women returning to or advancing in the workforce with training and job placement services; close the financing gap for women-owned businesses; make NYS as a model employer for working parents.
Girls: Close the gender gap by giving youngest learners access to computer science and engineering ; launch a new program to enable young girls to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields; continue the NYS mentoring program; create a new a K-12 learning module on healthy relationships; ensure access to menstrual products in public schools;
Family: invest $25 million to expand pre-K and after school programs; increase state funding for child care subsidies; continue the enhanced child care tax credit; establish a Child Care Availability Task Force; ensure equal access to diaper changing stations in public restrooms.
The full Report on the Status of New York Women and Girls: 2018 Outlook reflects the feedback, voices and opinions of women all over the state and is available here.
“From the birth of the women’s rights movement at Seneca Falls to the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation, New York leads the nation in championing women’s rights and breaking down barriers to equality,” Governor Cuomo said. “In 2018, we will build on this progress and continue to advance equality across all areas of life. While the federal government seeks to roll back women’s rights, New York State looks toward the future, with this bold set of proposals to create opportunity for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life.”
Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said, “I know how demoralizing the 2016 election was for many of us. But in many ways it was also the empowering wake-up call we needed. It helped us find our voice, and our backbone. And for our mothers and grandmothers who came before us and our daughters and my nieces who come after, I promise you this: we will not let this moment pass us by. We have an obligation to ourselves and to them. We will be the change required by this moment: in policy, in practice, in the workplace and all across society. With words and with action. If last year was a reckoning, this year is a battle. And in that fight, New York will lead the way.”
“New York State is serious about changing a culture that enables sexism and violence against women,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the New York Women’s Suffrage Commission, said. “As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, New York just marked the centennial of women’s suffrage and we are using this moment to bring about our vision of a world where women’s and men’s lives and potential are equally valued.”
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Legislative Ambassador to the New York State Council on Women and Girls said, “Everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream, and Governor Cuomo has shown his dedication to achieving that promise for all of New York’s hard-working women and girls. By implementing this all-encompassing agenda to ensure every woman has the opportunity to earn an education, attain a decent job and lead a quality life – New York is setting an example for the rest of the nation and the world on the true worth and value of every citizen of this state.”
Many of the policies and laws that Governor Cuomo has already set in motion to advance women’s equality and opportunity will go into effect in 2018, including Paid Family Leave, raised minimum wage and regulations to protect access to contraception no matter what happens at the federal level.
Here are more details about the specific proposals:
Pass the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to codify access to contraception, including emergency contraception, into New York State law, by passing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.
Codify Roe V. Wade into State Law and Constitution: This year, the Governor will again call for the passage of legislation to ensure the right of women to make personal health care decisions to protect their health in addition to their life and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Governor will also continue to champion a constitutional amendment to codify these protections into the state constitution.
Improve Access to IVF and Fertility Preservation Services: Governor Cuomo will direct the Superintendent of Financial Services to evaluate the best approach for incorporating coverage for in vitro fertilization into New York’s infertility mandate and update New York Law to ensure individuals have access to fertility preservation services when appropriate.
Launch Multi-Agency Effort to Combat Maternal Depression:To strengthen and support the ability of New York’s health care providers to deliver care to mothers experiencing maternal depression, Governor Cuomo will advance an aggressive strategy to ensure that all new mothers have access to screening and treatment.
Establish the Maternal Mortality Review Board to Save Lives:The Governor will launch a Board that will implement an enhanced multidisciplinary analysis to review each and every maternal death in the New York State and to develop actionable recommendations to improve care and management.
Add Experts in Women’s Health and Health Disparities to the State Board of Medicine:The Governor will propose legislation to require that one of the doctors on the State Board of Medicine be an expert on women’s health and one of the doctors be an expert in health disparities.
Pass the Equal Rights Amendment: Nearly a century after it was first proposed, New York State has still not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex in our State constitution. To right this decades-old wrong, Governor Cuomo will push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class.
Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers:To ensure that no domestic abuser continues to possess a firearm, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to update the list of prohibited offenses to include those domestic violence misdemeanors which are shockingly absent from current law.
End Sextortion and Revenge Porn:Governor Cuomo proposes a two-pronged approach that will criminalize disclosing or threatening to disclose sexually compromising images or videos with the intent to cause material harm to the victim’s mental or emotional health or to compel the victim to undertake some sexual act; and compelling a person to expose him or herself or engage in sexual conduct by threatening to harm the victim’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
Extend the Storage Timeline for Forensic Rape Kits at Hospitals: Governor Cuomo will advance new legislation to extend the length of time sexual offense evidence collection kits are preserved from 30 days to at least five years, or when the victim turns 19.
Extend Human Rights Law Protections to All Public School Students Statewide:New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, affording every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” However, the law does not currently protect public school students due to a court ruling. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students from discrimination. All students in the State of New York must have the right to pursue an education free from discrimination.
Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:The Governor proposes a multi-pronged plan that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements against individuals relating to sexual assault or harassment and to ensure that individual harassers are held accountable; propose a uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all State branches of government, agencies and authorities; and propose legislation to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government—State and local—unless it is the express preference of the victim.
Call on the New York State Common Retirement Fund to Invest in Companies with Women and Minority Leadership:Governor Cuomo will call for the New York Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with adequate female and minority representation in their management and on their boards of directors. The Governor will work with Comptroller DiNapoli to put in place processes and standards to systematically invest in companies that invest in women and minority leadership.
Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation and Expand the MWBE Program to All State-Funded Contracts:The Governor will advance legislation that will seek the reauthorization of the State’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program, which is due to expire this year, and increase the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in all levels of State contracting—both prime contractors and subcontractors, and propose legislation during the 2017 session that will expand the MWBE Program to more contracts entirely funded by the State.
Establish the Women Lead Fellowship for Women in Government: To recruit more talented women to work in the highest levels of New York State government, the Governor proposes creating the new Women Lead Fellowship. Ten new fellows will be placed alongside some of the most senior female officials within the Executive Branch.
Close the Gender Wage Gap:In 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Labor to launch a gender wage gap study to identify the root causes of the gender wage gap—as well as strategies to close it. To review the causes, scope and economic impact of the gender pay gap in New York State, DOL held hearings and stakeholder discussions across the State and solicited testimony from a diverse array of academic experts, women’s groups, workers, business owners and the public. In 2018, DOL will unveil the results of their analysis, as well as a comprehensive suite of policy recommendations to help close the gap.
Support Women Returning to or Advancing in the Workforce:As part of a new Fund for the Future, Governor Cuomo will pursue a new Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, supporting female-headed households and providing training and job placement services accompanied by the critical wrap-around services women need to move toward economic self-sufficiency.
Power Women-Owned Businesses by Taking Steps to Close the Financing Gap:At the Governor’s direction, New York State’s Innovation Venture Capital Fund will set a goal of investing $20 million to support women as they grow and scale their businesses.
Establish New York State as a Model Employer for Working Parents:Recognizing that a 21st century workforce requires a 21st century workplace, Governor Cuomo will take new actions to establish New York State as the best employer for working parents, including issuing a memo about increasing the use of flexible work schedules and establishing permanent, private, nursing mothers’ rooms and designate priority parking spots for pregnant people at all OGS buildings with dedicated parking lots.
Close the Gender Gap by Giving the Youngest Learners Access to Computer Science and Engineering: This year, Governor Cuomo will launch the Smart Start Computer Science Program, New York’s largest state investment to expand high-quality computer science education and create model computer science standards.
Launch “If You Can See It You Can Be It,” A Day for Girls to See What is Possible: As part of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, born over 25 years ago in New York, New York State will enhance internal programming and partner with top New York companies to give more young girls the opportunity to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields. The State will also be working to connect homeless youth, youth in foster care and young people from low-income areas to programming where they live.
Continue the Successful New York State Mentoring Program: Recognizing the importance of the role of a supportive adult in a child’s life, Governor Cuomo relaunched the New York State Mentoring program in 2015. In 1984, at the request of her husband, Governor Mario Cuomo, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo created and implemented The New York State Mentoring Program, the nation’s first statewide unique school based one-to-one mentoring program to prevent school dropout. Today, the New York State Mentoring program serves 1,766 students in 97 school-based sites across New York State.
Create the “Be Aware-Be Informed” Learning Module to Empower Young People to Forge Healthy Relationships:Governor Cuomo proposes that State Education Department and the Department of Health coordinate to create a K-12 learning module on healthy relationships. Such curriculum will include the same definition of consent used in the successful Enough is Enough law to foment a common understanding for all students.
Ensure Access to Menstrual Products in Public Schools: Governor Cuomo will propose legislation requiring school districts to provide free menstrual products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12. This important step will make New York State a leader in addressing this issue of inequality and stigma, ensuring that no girl’s learning is hindered by lack of access to the products her biology demands.
Invest $25 Million to Expand Vital Pre-K and After-School Programs:In order to fulfill the promise of universal pre-kindergarten, and alleviate the child care burden on working families, Governor Cuomo will invest $15 million to continue to expand universal pre-kindergarten for high-need students around the state, creating 3,000 new slots. To ensure that as many students as possible have a safe and supportive place to go after-school, the State will launch an additional $10 million round of Empire State After-School Grants to create 6,250 new slots in high-need areas—especially communities with high rates of homelessness.
Increase State Funding to Provide Working Families with Affordable Child Care: Child care subsidies help parents and caretakers pay for some or all of the cost of child care. Families are eligible for financial assistance if they meet the State’s low income guidelines and need child care to work, look for work or attend employment training. This year, Governor Cuomo will increase State support for child care subsidies by $7 million above FY 2018 Budget funding levels, restoring recent cuts and sustaining a record level of funding.
Continue the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for Middle Class Families:In 2017, Governor Cuomo created the Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit to reduce child care costs for working families. This expansion more than doubled the benefit for 200,000 families. This year, Governor Cuomo will continue the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families to continue to alleviate costs for families and support the needs of working parents.
Establish the Child Care Availability Task Force:To build on his investments in child care and the development of safe, accessible, and affordable child care, the Governor is establishing a new Child Care Availability Task Force. This task force, which will include representatives from the child care provider community, the advocacy community, representatives of the business community, unions that represent child care providers, representatives from several state agencies and local departments of social services, will be responsible for examining access to affordable child care; availability of child care for those with nontraditional work hours; statutory and regulatory changes that could promote or enhance access to child care; business incentives to increase child care access; and the impact on tax credits and deductions relating to child care.
Ensure Equal Access to Diaper Changing Stations in Public Restrooms:Governor Cuomo proposes to change New York’s Uniform Building Code to require all new or substantially renovated buildings with publicly accessible restrooms to provide safe and compliant changing tables. Changing tables will be available to both men and women, and there must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor.
Senator Catharine M. Young, Legislative Ambassador to the New York State Council on Women and Girls said, “I am honored to work with the strong, principled and extraordinarily dedicated women of the Council to address the everyday challenges faced by women in communities across this state. We bring to our discussions, varying viewpoints and ideas on how best to advance the equality and opportunities that we all want for women and girls across New York. The Governor’s 2018 Women’s Opportunity Agenda unveiled today reflects a shared commitment to these ideals and new ideas for building on New York’s historic record of fighting for the rights of women in this state and nation.”
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.