Governor Cuomo's 'Ambitious Agenda' For 2012

cuomo sosny Governor Cuomo's 'Ambitious Agenda' For 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Getty)

In his annual State of the State address today, Governor Cuomo outlined his ambitious vision for the future New York State including sweeping campaign finance reform, massive construction projects, an entirely new neighborhood built from scratch on the West Side of Manhattan, legalized casinos and a slew of new social programs. Governor Cuomo described his strategy for 2012 as an effort to build on a first year in office where he changed the culture of Albany from partisanship to constructive cooperation.

“By all accounts, last year was a tremendous success. There are many reasons why, including one simple one: We changed our attitude,” Governor Cuomo said. “By the end of the year, we were not first Democrats and Republicans, we were first New Yorkers and we acted that way. We put the politics aside and put the people first. And it worked. And we worked. We delivered for the people. … Today, I am telling you this: we are going to reach even higher”

Governor Cuomo said his goals for next year fall into three main categories; growing the state economy, launching programs designed to maintain New York’s status as “the progressive capital of the nation” and creating a “re-imagined government” through reforms designed to reduce costs and corruption.

The centerpiece of the governor’s plans for making over state government is a set of broad campaign finance reforms including a statewide program of public financing for elections modeled after New York City’s system, tighter limits on political donations, stricter regulation on contributions from public contractors and lobbyists and the creation of an enforcement unit in the State Board of Elections that will be tasked with investigating violations of campaign finance regulations.

“These and other reforms to our campaign finance laws are necessary to empower New Yorkers by giving them an equal voice in our elections,” Governor Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo also wants to enact mandate relief and pension reform.

“By next year,pension costs for schools and state and local governments will have increased 100 percent since 2009. We need to reform the pension system and create a Tier VI,” said Governor Cuomo.

On the economic front, Governor Cuomo hopes to bring revenue to the state through a series of large-scale construction projects created through public/private partnerships including a new Tappan Zee Bridge and “the largest convention center in the nation.” Governor Cuomo said his office is pursuing a joint venture with a gaming company called the Genting Corporation to build this convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack and raze the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Governor Cuomo said the site of the Javits Center could then be used to create an entirely new Manhattan neighborhood.

“We will follow the highly successful Battery Park City model, which has resulted in housing, hotels, museums, and over 10 million square feet of Class A office space,” Governor Cuomo said. “We estimate over $2 billion in private sector development in creating a new 21st century neighborhood for the West Side.”

The governor also reiterated his desire to revoke the state ban on commercial gaming and bring casinos to New York.

“When it comes to gaming, we have been in a state of denial. It’s time we confronted reality. It’s not a question of whether we should have gaming in New York — the fact is we already do,” said Governor Cuomo referencing the state’s abundance of electronic gaming machines, Indian casinos, racinos and the legal casinos in nearby states and Canada.

Governor Cuomo also wants to give the economy a boost by investing over a billion dollars in public funds to local governments including $200 million in regional economic development awards and $1 billion in development incentives for the city of Buffalo.

“While we build on our strength in New York City, we must also invest in the struggling areas of our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “The State of New York is ready to invest $1 billion in a multi-year package of economic development incentives. That’s a “B” — for $1 billion and for Buffalo.”

Governor Cuomo said he expected the Buffalo investment to yield “$5 billion in new investment and economic activity.” The governor also plans to invest state money to fund a series of infrastructure improvements and alternative energy initiatives.

Socially, the Governor said he wants to cement New York’s status as America’s “progressive capital” by launching programs designed to help farmers secure loans, aid immigrants transitioning to American life, double the number of minority and women-owned businesses that obtain state contracts, protect tenants from abusive landlords and foreclosures, ensure “reproductive rights” for women, and improve public education with $60 million in challenge grants to SUNY campuses.

Governor Cuomo also hopes to improve quality of life in New York by fundamentally changing the state’s food stamp system and criminal DNA databank. With food stamps, the governor said he wants to “increase participation in the food stamp program” by removing “barriers to participation” including New York City’s current practice of requiring applicants to submit to electronic fingerprinting. Governor Cuomo also promised to propose a bill that would expand the DNA databank to include samples from “any person convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor.”

“This databank helps establish guilt and innocence; it has provided leads in over 2,700 convictions and — just as important — led to 27 exonerations of the wrongfully accused,” Governor Cuomo said. “Currently, DNA is collected only from those convicted of less than half the crimes on the books in New York State.”

Education will also be a major focus for the governor next year.

“I learned my most important lesson in my first year as Governor in the area of public education. I learned that everyone in public education has his or her own lobbyist. … The only group without a lobbyist? The students,” Governor Cuomo said. “This year, I will take a second job— consider me the lobbyist for the students. I will wage a campaign to put students first, and to remind us that the purpose of public education is to help children grow, not to grow the public education bureaucracy.”

Though he acknowledged his plan for 2012 is an “ambitious agenda,” Governor Cuomo sounded confident he can make his vision a reality.

“We are the state of infinite possibility — because we are New York. There is nothing that we can’t do when we are together. Because we are New York.”

Comments

  1. I hope the New York will stay without casinos and will find other ways to solve economic problems.

  2. Joe says:

    “We need to re-focus where it should be-on the victims. We need to find them; we need to help them; they are our children…When it comes to the safety of children, there can be no margin for error, no hesitation to act.” – Gov. Tom Corbett
    Governor Cuomo and the legislature have made enormous progress in New York State over the past year. This year, there are a few different areas they are hoping to continue their success; pension reform, holding schools accountable, improving the ethical standards of our government,  and thanks to the debacles at Penn State and Syracuse, consider updating the states archaic laws about child abuse. While these appear to be completely separate goals, I would like to suggest a starting point where there is significant overlap.
    There is a Special education teacher in Nassau County in New York State whom pleaded guilty to possessing over 200 child pornography videos on his computer and is now a registered level one sex offender. The titles that were found on his computer cannot be printed but clearly indicate the perversity of this individual. Between the time he was arrested and ultimate resolution of his case, he “retired” and now receives a New York State pension of close to $60,000 a year. In addition, I was stunned to learn, that as far as I know, there are not any requirements for a school to do an investigation to identify any victims. As is often the case, it turns out, this perpetrator spent his lifetime putting himself in a position to have access to children but there was never any attempt to identify victims. Given that a typical perpetrator can abuse 100 victims, this is a scary thought. 
    This is one of many horrific cases that never reached the level of notoriety as some of the recent ones, although it raises a number of specific questions.  When it comes to pension reform, has anyone looked at how many convicted child sex offenders are collecting money from the New York State pension system? Can anyone say we are living up to our moral and ethical obligations when victims of sexual abuse suffer an entire lifetime while perpetrators live off of tax payer money? If we are going to increase school accountability, how about developing guidelines of how an investigation must be conducted and potential victims identified after a school employee has been convicted of a sexual offense so they can get the help they desperately need?  Why not take the money we are currently giving convicted child sex offenders via public pensions and use it to offer treatment to the innocent victims?
    As Governor Corbett said, when it comes to the safety of our children, there can be no margin of error or hesitation. Our Governor and State Legislature will hopefully have the strength to live begin consideration of these issues, which are in fact more aligned with their stated goals than even they may realize. 
     

    1. Robert Owen says:

      To the best of my knowledge, one foregoes one’s N.Y.S. teachers’ pension if convicted of a felony.  Such a conviction can certainly be grounds for revocation of tenure, and & I do think it can also be grounds for other penalties. 

    2. Robert Owen says:

      To the best of my knowledge, one foregoes one’s N.Y.S. teachers’ pension if convicted of a felony.  Such a conviction can certainly be grounds for revocation of tenure, and & I do think it can also be grounds for other penalties.