Tag Archives: Governor Cuomo

Many Cheers But One Big Jeer for NYS Governor Cuomo: Local Control

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo takes aim at local control and public schools © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo takes aim at local control and public schools © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

There is much to cheer in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, one of which he delivered at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island. His agenda for infrastructure, mass transportation improvements, water quality, affirming women’s reproductive rights,  support for immigrants and refugees, free tuition at public colleges for those who qualify, and how he couples the need for aggressive climate action with vigorous sustainable economic development, giving his blessing leading to LIPA’s landmark decision for a 90 megawatt off-shore windfarm to supply the East End, the first utility-scale project in America and making Long Island a leader in a new American industry, put Cuomo in line another New York Governor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which FDR brought to the White House as the New Deal (and it is clear Cuomo is jockeying for an eventual run for president).

The one jeer? His renewed assault on local control, which he casts as the culprit for unceasingly high property taxes, which is a not-really-veiled attack on public education.

Each year, Cuomo has used a different mechanism to make the property tax cap – which limits the amount a municipality can raise through property taxes to 2% or the CPI, whichever is less – an offer that can’t be refused. This year, Cuomo has unveiled a “groundbreaking” proposal which mandates the county executive “to develop localized plans that find real, recurring property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services and proposing coordinated services to enhance purchasing power, such as jointly purchasing and coordinating use of expensive transportation or emergency equipment. Taxpayers will then vote on these cost-saving plans in a referendum in the November 2017 general election.” If the referendum fails, well then, the plan would need to be reworked and resubmitted in November 2018. (Notably, New York City is exempted.)

But the argument begins with a flawed argument that we spend 2.5 times on property taxes than state income taxes. Doesn’t that spending differential reflect how much we pay for the services we actually receive locally? Plowing snow. Repairing roads. Treating sewage. Picking up garbage. Delivering water. Maintaining police, fire and emergency services. Keeping street lights on. And yes, public education.

Though people like to charge that Long Island pays the highest property taxes in the country, that isn’t true. Nor do New Yorkers pay the highest taxes in the nation, When all taxes are tallied –real estate, income, sales taxes and fees, New York comes in 6th (behind Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Rhode Island).  Nor are the taxes out of line to the incomes earned and home values. But most importantly, for the quality of municipal services including public schools, we want in our community.

Question for Cuomo: before you forcibly consolidate local governments, how much money would be saved by the exercise and how would consolidation actually work? North Hempstead already promotes intermunicipal cooperation; the school districts already participate in joint purchasing and shared services (BOCES) wherever practicable. Indeed, Great Neck public schools now earn a tidy sum in revenue from other districts for tuition paid into programs such as SEAL (rather than paying out $1 million in tuition). If there is waste and duplication, voters can show their ire at the ballot box or make their better-government suggestions known at public meetings.

But the real target of Cuomo’s assault on local governments and property taxes is public education, since 60-65% of the property tax bill goes to fund schools.

Talk about wasteful duplication. If he were so concerned, Cuomo wouldn’t be pushing for a second tier public school system – for-profit charter schools – without the same financial or academic accountability or subject to the same state mandates, to divert money from public schools.

Indeed, Long Islanders wouldn’t pay so much in property taxes if we weren’t so shortchanged in state aid for our public schools – though Long Island has 17% of NY’s student population, we only receive 12% of  state aid. It is a lot more obvious when you compare the percentage of school budgets funded by state aid: New York City, where property taxes are low and just about everybody gets some sort of tax holiday, gets 50% of its school budget paid by the state; in comparison less than 5% of Great Neck’s school budget comes from the state. Also, new enterprises, like Avalon Bay residential development, are getting a PILOT by Nassau County’s IDA, reducing the taxes they contribute to the school district as well as Village of Great Neck; the difference is made up by homeowners.

Governor Cuomo has made property taxes, and particularly school taxes, the enemy, falsely claiming that the taxes inhibit growth. But the services that are funded through property taxes contribute to economic growth and activity (an educated workforce, lighted roadways) as well as quality of life.

“Economic theory expects people to consider taxes when deciding where to live, but most studies show taxes only tangentially influence these decisions,” explains Stephanie Hunter McMahon, professor of law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, in a WalletHub report. “Taxes are, therefore, more influential for what they do or do not provide rather than the rate itself…these taxes are really payments for the goods and services state and local governments provide to the taxpayer and other members of the community.”

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

NYS Governor Proposes Constitutional Amendment Codifying Women’s Right to Choose

 

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes constitutional amendment to enshrine women’s right to choose. “We have fought very hard for the progress that we have made. Great organizations like Planned Parenthood have brought us forward step by step and we are not going backwards.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes constitutional amendment to enshrine women’s right to choose. “We have fought very hard for the progress that we have made. Great organizations like Planned Parenthood have brought us forward step by step and we are not going backwards.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is proposing to once and for all guarantee a woman’s right to choose in New York by codifying the protections established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade into the state constitution. This would ensure these protections remain in place in New York in the event this decision is overturned, or altered by a new U.S. Supreme Court.

“As Washington seeks to limit women’s rights, we seek to protect them, and as they threaten reproductive rights, I propose a constitutional amendment to write Roe v. Wade into the New York State Constitution to prevent any attack on the right to choose,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will not allow the progress of the women’s movement to be stopped, and we must seize this opportunity to bring the state and the nation forward and stand up for women’s health. Make no mistake, we will always protect the right to choose in New York.”

The Governor made the announcement at the “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” rally and Family Planning Advocates’ Day of Action, in front of a crowd of 1600 activists and Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. A video of the Governor making the announcement is available on YouTube here .

Roe v. Wade

The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, held that the United States Constitution protects the right of a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy prior to fetal viability or throughout pregnancy when it is necessary to preserve her life or health. In the 40 years since the decision, its core ruling has been continually upheld and the right to an abortion has been affirmed as constitutionally protected.

Securing Reproductive Health in New York

This announcement follows Governor Cuomo’s recent actions earlier this month to secure reproductive health services in New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state took regulatory action to ensure that insurers:

  • Provide coverage for all contraceptive drugs and devices and coverage for at least one form of contraception in each of the FDA-approved contraceptive delivery methods without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles, regardless of the future of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Provide coverage for the dispensing of an initial three-month supply of a contraceptive to an insured person. For subsequent dispensing of the same contraceptive prescribed by the same health care provider and covered under the same policy or renewal, an insurer must allow coverage for the dispensing of the entire prescribed contraceptive supply, up to 12 months, at the same time.
  • Provide coverage for abortion services that are medically necessary without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles (unless the plan is a high deductible plan).

New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward

The proposed amendment is the latest in a series of actions by Governor Cuomo to champion women’s rights, known as “New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward.”

In the past two years alone, the Governor has signed legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses through the Enough is Enough Act; prevent sexual harassment in the workplace regardless of the size of the employer; end pregnancy discrimination; establish the longest and most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation; and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (To learn more about New York’s Promise to Women, visit here.)

“Roe v. Wade handed down one of the most important legal rulings in our nation’s history, and it is imperative that we uphold the right to choose,” Kim Atkins, Board Chair, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. “With that federal protection under threat, it is more necessary than ever before that states stand up for reproductive rights, and Governor Cuomo is leading the nation by proposing this amendment in New York. With a constitutional amendment, that right will be guaranteed by the state constitution, so that it cannot be stripped away, no matter what happens at the federal level. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for standing tall for the right to choose in New York.”‎

During remarks at the Family Planning Advocates’ Day of Action in Albany, Governor Cuomo did not just stand up for women’s rights, but for immigrant rights and against the Trump ban on travel, immigration and refugee sanctuary.

Here are highlights of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:

My daughters are frightened and they are not alone. They look around they wonder what happened to the America that they believed in. But here’s the fact also – we will not lose this nation’s soul and we will not stop the progress of the women’s movement and we will not allow disrespect of any American female, male, black, white, gay, LGBTQ because we have come too far my friends and we are not going backwards, we are going forwards. 

Now, for many years, this state was paralyzed. It didn’t assume its role as a national leader. But that changed. New York State has stood up and over the last few years we have made tremendous progress. 

We passed the first women’s equality act outlawing employment and housing discrimination against women. 

While the Congress in Washington stood frozen, we passed the “enough is enough” law that provides the greatest protection for women against campus sexual assault in the United States of America. 

We passed the best paid family leave bill in the country. 

We raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars, the highest in the United States that predominately helps women. 

Last month we furthered equal pay by ordering salary blind state hiring.

And last week on the day of the Women’s March, we signed an order mandating insurance companies to pay for birth control without deductibles, without copays and it doesn’t matter what Congress does on Obamacare. Women are entitled to birth control. 

The truth is we have come a long way. And the truth is that my daughters and all young women have rights today that my sisters didn’t have, that my mother didn’t have – There is a new generation of rights for women and that’s why we can’t go back.

I’m not saying everything is done, there’s certainly still more to do. There is an inherent sexism in society that exists and we will not stop fighting until we have total equality and parity.

Now as you know our rights are under attack in Washington and as they seek to limit women’s rights we in New York seek to protect them. As they pull on women’s rights, we’re going to push back on women’s rights. And as they threaten this nation with a possible Supreme Court nominees who will reverse Roe v. Wade – I want them to know today, if that’s what they do we’re going to protect Roe v. Wade in the State of New York. I propose today, I propose today, a constitutional amendment to right Roe v Wade into the New York State constitution so that nobody can change it. No supreme court nominee, because we’re going to protect a women’s right to choose in the state of New York. And let’s put in on the ballet and let’s let the people decide because this is still a democracy and New Yorkers want to protect a women’s right to choose.” 

But as Cecile Richards said, our challenge is even greater. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not just women’s rights that are under attack it’s the rights of foreigners and immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. 

The new Washington philosophy is against people who are different than they are. That’s what it comes down to. 

The administration wants to control access to our nation because they fear radical Islamic terrorists.  We fear terrorists too. This is the state of New York. It was the blood of New Yorkers that spilled on 9/11 we understand the fear of terrorism. But while we are afraid of terrorism, we also fear an extreme right wing agenda that will infringe on our rights. And my friends we will protect our borders from terrorists, but we’re also going to protect ourselves from an extreme right wing agenda that will trample on our rights.  

And the new administration in Washington forgot something – When they tried to slam the doors shut on America there was a piece of paper that actually got caught in the fray and it keep the doors open. That piece of paper is called the Constitution of the United States of America. 

And that piece of paper says, that individuals have rights, the right to due process, the right to equal treatment under the laws and I want you to know that the state of New York is going to enforce every legal right of every person who’s detained, every person who’s victimized by any policy from that administration. 

They forgot, they forgot that there’s a state named New York and they underestimated us. We’ve worked very hard for the place that we’ve achieved. We stand on the shoulders of great leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and Geraldine Ferraro and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We have fought very hard for the progress that we have made. Great organizations like Planned Parenthood have brought us forward step by step and we are not going backwards. 

They forgot that we are New Yorkers and we will stand in solidarity one with another. Because that is who we are. And that as a New Yorker I am a Muslim. And as a New Yorker, I am Jewish. And as a New Yorker, I am a refugee. And as a New Yorker, I am black, and as a New Yorker I am gay, and as a New Yorker I am poor, and as a New Yorker I am homeless. And as a New Yorker I am a child who needs an education. And as I am a New Yorker I am a family living in poverty. And that we are all connected and we are one. And if you infringe on the rights of one, you infringe on the rights of all. And if you attack one of us, you attack all of us. And we are going to stand in solidarity and we are going to push back and we are going to galvanize resistance like this nation has never seen. And we’re going to take this moment to bring this state and this nation forward. 

Next Step of New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward – More Information Available Here

 

 

 

NYS Launches Hotline to Assist Refugees Believed Detained by Trump Ban

Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of a confidential toll-free hotline for New Yorkers to report family members, relatives, friends or colleagues believed to be passengers on flights coming into the state, but are missing or believed to be detained. The toll-free hotline, 1-888-769-7243,  bolsters the state’s efforts to protect the rights of New Yorkers, their families and loved ones and allows those left in extremely vulnerable situations to notify the Department of State. The Governor made the announcement at a press conference in New York City.
 
“As New Yorkers who live in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, we welcome new immigrants as a source of energy and celebrate them as a source of revitalization for our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will ensure New York remains a beacon of hope and opportunity and will work to protect the rights of those seeking refuge in our state.”
 
New Yorkers who have experienced issues relating to love ones who are detained, missing, or travel restricted as a result of recent federal actions are encouraged to call the Department’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-769-7243. The hotline will be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will offer translation services.

The launch of this hotline follows action the Governor took yesterday regarding refugees who were detained at airports across the state. The Governor directed the Port Authority, the Department of State, and his Counsel’s Office to jointly explore all legal options to assist anyone detained at New York airports, and ensure that the rights of refugees are protected under the law.

 
The Governor also recently launched the formation of a New York State Hate Crime Task Force with members from the New York State Police and the New York State Division of Human Rights, to investigate hate crimes and conduct community outreach to educate New Yorkers of their rights.  The Task Force will also coordinate with local District Attorneys to provide necessary support during the prosecution of hate crime cases. Some of the investigators have already been involved in the investigation of recent reported hate crimes including swastikas found in different parts of the state.

In addition, the Governor announced earlier this month the formation of a new Interfaith Advisory Council, led by Cardinal Dolan, to help achieve a greater understanding and tolerance of all religions and cultures, promote open-mindedness and inclusivity, and bolster the state’s efforts to protect all New Yorkers.