ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An ambitious, aggressive 2016 agenda with a tone of, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” was unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Cuomo vowed to tackle corruption, homelessness and a host of other issues following nearly two weeks of headline-grabbing announcements. Cuomo also unveiled his $145.3 billion budget proposal.
There is so much that Cuomo wants to accomplish this year that it required 504 pages to type out.
Cuomo opened his annual state of the state address with a moment of silence in honor of New York’s first female chief judge, Judith Kaye, who died last week.
He then moved on to laud New York and its legislators for making great strides as a state.
“We stand stronger than at any point in recent history,” Cuomo said. “The Empire State is poised to grow and to lead.”
But as the governor delved into his speech, Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) began heckling and shouting at Cuomo.
“This is not real. This is not real. Come to the neighborhoods where the poverty is high. He has a billion-dollar surplus and the poverty is high,” Barron can be heard yelling in a video posted to Twitter.
The governor responded at first, saying “All right assemblyman, sit down. Everybody heard you; everybody saw you,” and “Just because you yell doesn’t mean you’re right.”
Barron said outside of the convention hall that he believes Cuomo is ignoring the needs of poor New Yorkers and should propose at least $2 billion more for public education, particularly for high-need schools. He admitted that he planned the interruption and said Cuomo is a hypocrite who doesn’t care about the true state of the state.
Cuomo went on to vow action to fix the homelessness problem in New York City
He proposed $10 billion to build 100,000 units of affordable housing, and $10 billion for housing for the homeless – including 20,000 units of supportive housing and 1,000 emergency shelter beds.
Cuomo also called for an audit of homeless shelters; those found unsafe would be required to add police protection. Otherwise, Cuomo said, they would be closed or taken over by a receiver.
“We will not allow people to dwell in the gutter like garbage,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo met with Mayor Bill de Blasio ahead of the speech. The two men have had a contentious relationship, most recently centered on homelessness.
Cuomo’s administration has faulted the mayor for not doing enough, but on Wednesday Cuomo thanked the mayor for assisting on the administration’s plan.
“The governor and I talked for about a half hour,” de Blasio said. “It was a productive conversation.”
Still, in a move that some might see as a slap at the mayor, Cuomo asked city Comptroller Scott Stringer to audit and inspect all New York City shelters to make sure they are safe and clean, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.
Stringer said he will also have the power to close shelters not only that pose a crime threat, but also that are dirty or have hazardous conditions.
“Shut them down,” Stringer said. “If you have children and families living in deplorable, dangerous conditions, we have an obligation to either clean it up or get people moved out of these shelters.”
There will also be a similar monitor in Buffalo.
Homeless advocate George McDonald said Cuomo was on the right track.
“I think that that’s an excellent approach,” he said. “I mean, we’re paying over a billion dollars a year in the city of New York to run a shelter system.”
Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio also likely will not be happy about a $600 million state cut in funding for Medicaid and the City University of New York system, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
Cuomo also called for raising the minimum wage to $15, cutting small-business taxes and boosting the environmental protection fund.
Many of the proposals detailed Wednesday had already been rolled out by Cuomo in the past two weeks in a series of appearances around the state.
Cuomo again called for gradually raising the current $9 minimum wage to $15, an increase that would be phased in in New York City in 2019 and the rest of the state on July 1, 2021.
“We can show this nation what real economic justice means,” Cuomo said. “We won’t stop until we get it done.”
But some critics have asked how the governor plans to pay for it all.
“Some will say he needs to discuss where the money is going to come from, but no he doesn’t,” democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
Cuomo’s budget further details plans to revamp Penn Station and expand the Javits Center in Manhattan, add a third rail line for the Long Island Rail Road, redesign 30 New York City subway stations, revitalize upstate airports and spend $22 billion on highways and bridges.
Tolls on the Thruway and the Tappan Zee Bridge would be frozen until 2020, and drivers who spend at least $50 annually on Thruway tolls could get a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the tolls paid.
Other proposals include pardons for young offenders who don’t commit new crimes, more municipal contracting with minority and women-owned businesses and adding college courses in prisons.
Cuomo is proposing to increase state aid to public schools by $1 billion to $24.2 billion, and a $350 million cut in Medicaid funding, now $63.6 billion, which covers almost one-third of New Yorkers. The state Regents have called for $2.4 billion more in school aid, and advocates want even more.
Scores of people rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to increase education funding to $30 billion, while lobbyists for renewable energy, charter schools, food banks and other interest groups worked the hallways of the state Capitol hoping to advance their budget priorities with lawmakers.
To boost the economy Cuomo recommended cutting the income tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to as little as 4 percent effective next year. Cuts would apply to businesses with less than 100 employees and net income below $390,000.
Just this week, the U.S. attorney announced there won’t be charges in Cuomo’s premature shutdown of the Moreland Commission. Dick Dadey, with the good government group Citizens Union, called it a stroke of good timing.
“He now has a bit of a stronger platform to make the case for stronger ethics reform,” Dadey told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
And after the corruption convictions of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Cuomo called for numerous ethics reforms.
His plan, modeled after restrictions placed on members of Congress, would restrict a lawmaker’s outside income to 15 percent of the legislature salary, currently $79,500. The governor also wants to close the so-called LLC loophole, which allows limited liability corporations to skirt campaign finance limits.
They plan also included forcing corrupt politicians to forfeit their pensions.
There were also two highly personal initiatives. Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, underwent surgery for breast cancer last year, and on Wednesday, Cuomo unveiled a new $90 million plan to expand breast cancer screening.
Meanwhile, the death of Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, just over a year ago led to a call for a 12-week paid statewide family leave program.
“I have kicked myself every day that I didn’t spend more time with my father at that end period, but it was my mistake — a mistake I blame myself for every day,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo aides said employers will not get stuck for the cost of family leave. The money will come out of a special fund employees will pay into.
The governor is also calling for a new pre-kindergarten program that will include 3-year-olds.
A year ago, Cuomo proposed a $141.6 billion budget for the current fiscal year, which ends March 31. That was up about $4 billion and subject to negotiations with the Legislature before a final plan was enacted.
He called then for new spending for economic development projects, raising the minimum wage, property tax relief, expanded broadband access and funding for the new Tappan Zee Bridge over the lower Hudson River.
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