On Thursday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Marist College in Poughkeepsie to deliver his State of the State speech, the latest stop in a barnstorming tour designed to stir up popular support for his reform agenda.
“It’s really not really your obligation to come to government,” Mr. Cuomo told the crowd. “It’s government’s obligation to come to you. I want to bring my State of the State to you.”
Mr. Cuomo was introduced by Republican state Senator Steve Saland.
“By the time the budget is over, I’m going to look like the senator,” Cuomo joked of the conspicuously bald legislator.
And, in a ritual that came to define his campaign, the speech was organized on short notice.
Marist College had only been notified of Mr. Cuomo’s wish to deliver the address on Tuesday, leaving little time for publicity and notification of the event to the masses.
Still, a campus theater that seats 330 was overflowing with Marist students, local business leaders, elected officials, professors, Chamber of Commerce members, and students from three local high schools.
“Everything hit into high gear on Wednesday,” said Tim Massie, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Marist College. “About 600 people were here for the Governor.”
That included quite a few representatives from the local and national media.
“The Poughkeepsie Journal, The New York Times, National Public Radio; I lost track after a while,” Massie said. “This was the one time I didn’t have to do the press work.”
Assisting Mr. Cuomo was a PowerPoint presentation, designed to illustrate the state’s fiscal problems.
“It’s a daunting task and he’s doing the right thing by backing what he said up with data and images,” said Marist College President Dr. Dennis Murray. “I applaud his effort to get around the state to talk about the issues that confront New York, and I applaud what the governor has done.”
Mr. Cuomo must release his budget proposal on February 1, and his recent travels are designed to drum up popular support for some of the more controversial proposals before he begins his battle with the Legislature.
The college audience strongly applauded his call for a new approach towards education.
“More money, more money, more money, does not mean better services, better services, better services,” Mr. Cuomo said “Are we better educating the kids with more money? No. I want more performance. I want more for the kids.”
But the loudest applause was reserved for his repeated calls to clean up Albany.
“We have to transform the ethical environment in Albany and we have to clean up Albany,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We like to say well, issues are complicated and there’s a lot of gray. That’s often true. Sometimes it’s not true and sometimes it’s black and white and when it comes to this issue, my friends, it’s black and white. People of this state have lost trust in their government. Their government has lost credibility. They have to pass ethics reform and clean up this government and they have to pass it now.”
Mr. Cuomo concluded with an appeal to the people, stressing that the government will change only when the citizens make their voices heard.
“I will do my part,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But, a strong governor gets the strength from a galvanized population behind him or her. If you are behind me and you are behind me actively, we will get change. If we get this government to act and reform and do what it needs to do and understand the reality and stop playing politics-if we stop this gridlock in Albany and we unleash the ability of the people of this state, you’re going to see this state reach a level that you’ve never seen it reach before. We just need a government that is as good as the people of this state.”
The speech can be viewed in its entirety here: http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=marist