Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo not only presented his agenda for the final year of his first term–he declared the first three years of his tenure an overwhelming success.
“It’s a year that’s going to be a banner year for the State of New York,” Mr. Cuomo told the attendees at the beginning of his annual State of the State address in Albany. “But there’s an old saying that you don’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”
Mr. Cuomo went on to reflect on how the state’s governance has recovered from its previous status as “literally a joke” for late-night comedians, who had reveled in the resignation of ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer after a prostitution scandal and the struggles of his successor, David Paterson, to maintain order in the State Legislature.
“The State of New York was in trouble. The New York State government was literally a joke at that time on late-night TV. It was about scandals. It was about indictments. It was about dysfunction. But even worse, this was not about a momentary lapse,” said Mr. Cuomo. “These were fundamental, structural problems that had been going on and growing for a long time and were now coming home to roost.”
He went on declare that, “We were on the precipice of an abyss. The state’s future was hanging in the balance–literally,” he argued, citing legislative gridlock, overly high tax rates, late budgets, the dominance of special interests and a sluggish economy. “The cynics and the naysayers said that we were too far gone and there was no way that we were going to turn the ship of state around.”
But, Mr. Cuomo countered: “We knew that fortune favors the bold … We stopped talking and we started doing … And in three years, my friends, you have reversed decades of decline and made dramatic and undeniable progress.”
Mr. Cuomo, who is up for re-election this year, proceeded to tout a wide range of accomplishments: new gun-control laws, casino gaming, a texting-while-driving crackdown, partnerships with Indian nations, a health insurance exchange, a DNA database, college expansions, a more progressive tax rate, same-sex marriage, economic growth and more. (He also taken a fair amount of criticism over some of his initiatives, especially on the gun-control measures currently being challenged in court.)
“The proof is in the pudding,” he argued. “We did what we said we would do. As elected officials, there’s no statement that makes you prouder to say.”
And after that, Mr. Cuomo began to outline his agenda for the new year.