Governor Cuomo Outlines 2019 Justice Agenda: The Time Is Now

In 9th State of the State Address, Governor Advances Agenda to Ensure the Promise of Full, True Justice for All

 Governor Cuomo: “On our seal it says the Great State of New York. You know why New York is great? Because New York rejects divide and conquer and we believe in unify and grow. New York is great because we believe in community and mutuality and we believe the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. We are great because we believe the strongest four-letter word is still love. Not hate. New York loves you and what makes us great is we have no tolerance for hate in our state. That’s New York. And that’s who we are. And that’s our message to this nation.”

While Federal Government’s Dysfunction and Shutdown Persists, Governor Cuomo Leads the Way Forward on Every Major Issue Affecting New Yorkers

2019 Justice Agenda: The Time is Now

FY 2020 Executive Budget Protects New Yorkers from Washington’s Devastating Federal Attacks, Strengthens the Middle Class, Safeguards the Environment, Provides Unprecedented Investments in Education, Implements Congestion Pricing, Legalizes Adult Cannabis Use, Protects the Health of Our Communities and Drives Our Infrastructure Forward

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh on Governor Cuomo’s State of the State

 2019 State of the State Book Available Here Page 62 mentions the “Syracuse Surge”

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today delivered his 2019 State of the State Address. The Governor’s 2019 Justice Agenda ensures the promise of full, true justice for all. While the federal government’s dysfunction and shutdown persists, the Governor is leading the way forward. The Justice Agenda protects New Yorkers from Washington’s devastating federal attacks, strengthens the middle class, safeguards the environment, improves the health of our communities and invests in our infrastructure for the 21st century. For the ninth consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth below two percent. In December, in the face of the nation’s biggest social crisis, and with the federal government seeking to undo generations of progress, Governor Cuomo laid out his legislative agenda to enable the Legislature to commence action on these top priorities immediately upon convening. In this State of the State Address, the Governor called on the legislature to swiftly and immediately act on these priorities in the first 100 days of session. More information is available here.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much. Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Happy New Year. This is going to be a great one, isn’t it? It sure is.

First, let’s give our great Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul a big round of applause. She is a superstar. We have our great Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. 32 years of public service and he’s only 36 years old. Tom DiNapoli, thank you very much.

We have our new and exciting and history-making Attorney General Tish James. Pleasure to be with you. General James. General James. I like to salute. I feel as a former Attorney General, I like to salute. It’s our own little Attorney general club.

We have, speaking of history making, the first female Leader of the Senate, the first African American Leader of the state Senate, our Leader of our democratic Senate, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. And let me ask all the members of the democratic senate to stand up so we can give you a round of applause. Stand up!

Thank you. thank you. thank you. welcome. The New York State Assembly for many, many years was the progressive champion in the state of New York. For many years, when it was hard, when we had a republican conservative leadership trying to push the state backwards, it’s the New York State Assembly that stood up and has always shown the way and they’ve shown the way again. I believe they’re the most progressive, advanced legislative body in the United States of America. Let’s give them a round of applause and their leader, Speaker Heastie. Stand up, Speaker Heastie.

Governor Cuomo Outlines 2019 Justice Agenda

A great senator, a good friend, Senate Deputy Leader Joe Griffo is with us today. Stand Joe, please. Thank you very much. We have Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, thank you very much for being with us. Will you stand please, Brian?

And we have the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Janet DiFiore. Pleasure to be with you, Chief Judge. Please stand, be recognized. Thank you.

And point of personal privilege, but this is a combination of the Budget and the State of the State, I want to thank my team, headed by Melissa DeRosa; Rob Mujica, Budget Director; Alphonso David, Counsel; and Dr. Jim Malatras, policy guru. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Today started with a number of bangs. One of them you may not have seen because nothing is ever easy. We built the new Tappan Zee bridge next to the old Tappan Zee Bridge. The old Tappan Zee Bridge became structurally unstable and they literally couldn’t remove it because they were afraid of the instability of the structure. So the contractor who owns the bridge went through a number of options and came up with the best option was felling the bridge. They call it accelerated felling. It means blowing up the bridge, but they like to say accelerated felling, so whatever they want to call it. The danger of the situation, as you can see, it’s very close to the new bridge. So that happened this morning and it happened like this—

If that did not go right, talk about blowing a hole in the budget. That would have really done it. So we’re off with a bang and we have a lot to do and a lot of good news, so let me run through it for you and thank you for providing me the opportunity and I thank the people of the state of New York for, once again, providing me the opportunity to serve as their Governor.

This year, we think it’s the year to fully enact a justice agenda, in the broadest sense of the word justice. Social justice, economic justice, and racial justice. And that this is the time to do it. We face real challenges in the state of New York. We have a federal government that is assaulting our values, our liberties, our rights, and our economy. Literally our economy. The federal cuts to our budget would be devastating and the federal effect on the values and liberties on New Yorkers would be devastating. And this is the moment in government that we are leading. And it is up to us to bring this state forward. We have no allies who are going to help us. The federal government is not going to help us. It’s up to this legislative body to lead this state at this crucial time.

The good news is, as you heard from the Lieutenant Governor, the state has already made great progress. We’ve turned around basic trajectories. It is a functional government. It is competent. We are accomplishment oriented. We’re the most progressive government in the United States of America. We balanced budgets. We have the most socially progressive accomplishments of any state in the nation and it’s not even close. First big state to pass Marriage Equality. First state to pass $15—the highest minimum wage. The most aggressive building agenda in the state. A national champion for organized labor, which is under attack by this administration and has a friend in the state of New York. The nation leading environmental agenda. The first free college tuition program. That’s New York. The best Paid Family Leave program in the nation and a leader on gun safety. That’s the state of New York and that’s what you’ve done.

Governor Cuomo Outlines 2019 Justice Agenda “Job Creation”

But, what’s even more remarkable, is we match that agenda for social progress with economic progress. Today, the state has 8.2 million private sector jobs. You know how many jobs that is? That is the highest number of jobs the state has ever had in its history. That’s how many jobs that is. Statewide unemployment rate was 8.4 percent when we started. It is now down to 3.9 percent today. You know how low that is? It is the lowest level in recorded history for unemployment. That’s something to be proud of. And the economic success is not in one part of the state as it has been in many years past. The growth has been all across the state of New York. From the North Country all through the state we’re seeing our efforts bring uniform economic progress. And a big part of it is the building that we have been doing. The building of the economy and the vision that we have had in terms of economic development. And not just talking about it, but actually doing it. Actually making it happen. And the record of what we have built and done is staggering. Starting in buffalo with the Peace Bridge/Gateway project—$57 million, which has been done. New Rochester Airport, which has been finished; new Elmira Corning Airport, which is up and running; new Syracuse Airport, which is up and running; Plattsburgh Airport; the new Schenectady Train Station, which is done; the State Fair Transformation—$120 million—it’s done. Just broke a new attendance record, over one million fairgoers coming to Central New York to go to the fair. New Expo Center at the fairgrounds, one of the largest in the northeast. We have the National Comedy Center that just broke ground. It just opened up about five months ago. Already you have visitors from 49 states going to Jamestown, New York to our Comedy Center. Isn’t that amazing? This Friday and Saturday night, Howard Zemsky will be appearing at the Comedy Center. And tickets will be on sale immediately after this presentation.

The Binghamton Pharmacy School is a reality. We got that done. The Queens Midtown Tunnel is finished. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is finished. Gore, Whiteface, Belleayre, Ski Mountain Resorts have been transformed. That’s done, bringing more tourism up to the North Country. The Long Island artificial reefs, the largest ever. It helps the ecosystem, fishing diving industry. That has been done. The Mario Cuomo Bridge, as you just saw, has been done.

New Ithaca Airport is going to open this year. This year, a new thoroughfare, new transfer station at the Woodbury Road and transit hub, which will greatly alleviate traffic in that entire area. We are going to finish the Kosciuszko Bridge and it’s going to happen this year—the second span, ending that traffic nightmare. The Shirley Chisholm State Park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn. The largest State Park in New York City.

And it will be open this year. We have more underway. The Albany Airport is being totally transfigured. We will be able to get there faster and easier. The new Moynihan Train Hall, which will replace the need to have to go into Penn Station, which is going to be a state-of-the-art facility opens in 2020. We have a new Long Island Rail Road entrance going in on 33rd Street in Manhattan. The Jones Beach revitalization, which is bringing it back to the majesty of Robert Moses. That opens in 2020. Letchworth State Park renovations voted the number one state park in the nation, believe it or not. It is magnificent and it is going to be more magnificent.

The Empire Trail, which is the largest recreational trail in the United States, will be finished in 2020. A new LaGuardia Airport, which is already being open now. It’s going to be finished in 2021. New JFK Airport, which is going to be opening in 2025. The Bronx is getting four new Metro North stations going into Penn Station. Long Island, after 70 years of talking about expanding the Long Island Rail Road, we are putting in second track and a third track and 100 projects along that way to transform the Long Island Rail Road. That’s underway. We are ahead of schedule. The second track is completed this year. The third track will be in 2022.

The cashless tolling is in place downstate. It’s going to be statewide in 2020 with doubling the size of the Javits Convention Center because it opened in 1984. At one time it was the most competitive in the nation. It became literally outsized. We’re doubling it and it’s going to open in 2021. We have Roc the Riverway in Rochester with Lovely Warren, which is a whole revitalization along the water. Don’t make Lovely clap alone. Everybody clap.

And we are going to be the first state to have high speed broadband 100 percent all across the state.

We did all of this work and all of this investment and we have unprecedented fiscal integrity. State debt is down and our credit ratings are the highest levels since 1972. Because we managed government better, we were able to lower taxes, which are now at historic lows. Lowest middle class tax rate since 1947. Even I wasn’t born in 1947. Lowest manufacturers tax since 1917. Lowest corporate tax since 1968. So, a great record of accomplishment. A lot of momentum. But I really believe you ain’t see nothing yet because I believe what we’re going to get done in this legislative session is going to make history in the state of New York. And is going to make history in the nation.  We have great leadership.

Governor Cuomo Outlines 2019 Justice Agenda

We have great leadership in the democratic Assembly. As I mentioned, it has been the progressive legislative body in the nation. We have a great progressive leader. This is the closest picture we could find of a smile for the speaker.

Let’s give him another round of applause, Speaker Carl Heastie. And this year we have a new partner. We have historic leadership and we have a Democratic Senate. And we do have much to do together. The federal government is trying to roll back the Affordable Health Care Act. It has dire repercussions for this state. We want to protect affordable health care. We need to codify the ACA and safeguard the protections for preexisting conditions in our law so the federal government cannot change those protections, period.

I believe we should pass a constitutional amendment. Not just a Roe v. Wade law. A constitutional amendment. Let’s write the rights of Roe v. Wade into the state constitution so it can never be changed. No matter what happens politically. And pass the Reproductive Health Act and the Contraceptive Care Act. We need to reform our criminal justice system by eliminating cash bail once and for all. And enacting speedy trial. And discovery reform. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Let’s standup. Let’s do it. Let’s lead the way.

Let’s pass a democracy agenda. Talk about voter disenfranchisement—why do the polls open at noon in a primary in upstate New York but 6 a.m. in Downstate New York? Let’s give every person the right to vote. Make it easy to vote. If we want people to vote, why not make Election Day a holiday and give them the time to come out and actually vote?

We passed the SAFE Act. Today this is the anniversary of the SAFE Act. At that time people said to us, ‘oh you don’t need gun laws. The Sandy Hook Massacre was a once in a lifetime.’ Which had just happened. We were right and they were wrong. And history proved us right. We have more mass shootings, more gun violence, more student deaths. New York led the way. Let New York lead the way again and pass the Red Flag Law. Ban bump stocks, extend the waiting period from three days to 10 days.

Pass the Child Victims Act. It has been too long. This is the year we need to do it. Pass the Dream Act. It has been too long. This is the year we need to do it. Pass the Dream Act. It’s been too long. Dreams deferred are dreams denied. We are going to pass it this year.

Legalize adult-used cannabis. Stop the disproportionate criminal impact on communities of color. And let’s create an industry that empowers the poor communities that pay the price and not the rich corporations who come in to make a profit.

Implement real campaign finance reform. Close the LLC loophole. Ban corporate campaign contributions. Let’s overhaul the campaign financing system. Let’s pass campaign finance and let’s reform independent expenditures because the abuse is outrageous.

It is our generational obligation to make sure we leave this place better than we found it. We need to invest in clean, safe drinking water. We have a $2.5 billion investment to replace infrastructure all across the state, and let’s launce the next phase of the Green New Deal mandating 100 percent power by 2040, the fastest in the United States of America, and lead the way, and lead the way to eliminating our carbon footprint. We know the future. Let New York lead.

We invested in upstate casinos. Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos. It’s here. It’s a reality and it will help generate activity in those casinos.

And let’s enact the most aggressive the most aggressive pro-labor protection agenda in the United States of America.

Our middle-class are the ones who are suffering. Our middle-class are the ones who took it on the chin. Let’s protect our progressive tax code, and let’s cut taxes for the middle-class so they know we’re on their side and let’s do it this year.

Let’s provide and protect more affordable housing by finally enacting aggressive rent-regulation reform. With the democratic senate we can get that done.

And let’s continue our Build New York program which is the most aggressive in the United States and invest another $150 billion in rebuilding our infrastructure and our transit system.

And let’s overhaul the MTA and pass congestion pricing so we have reliable funding stream for the MTA once and for all.

It’s a lot. No doubt about it. But there’s been a lot that has been bottled up for many, many years that we couldn’t get done. And in many ways I feel the state is now liberated with the senate democratic caucus and we can get these things done and we can get them done together and pass a new budget and I believe we can get them done within the first 100 days to show this state a new reality.

Now on the finances for the state, we start with the $3 billion hole, largely because of the federal policies. The revenues have slowed. We believe it’s attributed to the federal SALT program which we all predicted was going to have a dramatic effect on New York. What the federal government did with SALT, was it penalized New York more than it did any other state. New York State is the number one donor state in the United States of America. We send more money to Washington than we get back, and we send more money that we don’t get back than any other state in the nation. 40 states take more than they give. So, we have a federal government that is against redistribution of income among people, but they have no problem redistributing income from some states to other states and what they did is they took from the republican democratic states to give to the republican states and we’re feeling the pain. And that’s a $3 billion hole. At the same time, we have priority investments we want to make. So we have a negative $3 billion and we want to invest more in targeted priorities and this budget tries to balance them.

The four largest cost priorities are education, health care, MTA, infrastructure and a middle-class tax cut. On education, we should be very proud of the money we spend. We spend the most money per pupil in the nation. We spend two times the national average. The problem with our education system is the inequity in the funding and the differential in funding between rich schools and poor schools. This has been a topic we have been talking about for 30 or 40 years. And we’ve been talking around and around and around and in truth, my friends, we have missed the mark and we haven’t accomplished the goal. The assumption we had, was if we fund the poorer school districts, they would turn around the poorer schools in their districts. That was our assumption. It was a bad assumption.

New York State provides 70 percent of its funding to the poorer districts. 70 percent to the poorer districts. We believed that meant we were funding the poorer schools. Well, you weren’t. You were funding the poorer districts. And then, the districts turned around and decided how to distribute the funds. And they did not distribute the funds to the poorer schools. That assumption was flawed. Last year, to your credit, we demanded school-level transparency on 76 major districts representing half of all the students in the state. We’re increasing it this year. The findings are worrisome. We gave 70 percent of the funding to the poorer districts but it never found its way to the poorer schools.

City of Buffalo, for example, poorer school — $15,000, wealthier school – $17,000. Rochester – poorer schools, we’re spending about $18,000 per student, $26,000 in the wealthier school district. Syracuse, 18 and 22. New York City, 21 and $26,000 in the wealthier school districts. Yonkers, 17,000 and 21,000 in the wealthier school districts. I believe the exact opposite is what should be happening. The needs in the poorer school districts and the poorer schools are greater. I spent my whole life working in low-income communities working with the homeless. Those children have more obstacles than the children in the richer schools. It’s the child who’s going home to a New York City public housing project and whose mother is working or whose father is working and is going home alone, that student needs more help than the student who is going home to a two-parent household where they’re getting tutored. The additional resources, the additional need has to go to the poorer school, and the poorer student. That’s education equity. And that’s what we’ve been talking about for 40 years and we haven’t achieved it. Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing, and let’s actually have a law that accomplishes what we want to accomplish. We want to make sure that this state can say a quality education regardless of income, race, or zip code and that’s how our funds should be distributed.

This budget raises the total education budget to $27 billion but it introduces a new formula called the Education Equity Formula which would distribute the money not just to the poorer districts, but to the poorer schools in the poorer districts. And let’s end those funding disparities once and for all. The breakdown of the education funding you see—expanding Pre-K afterschool, an early childhood, master teacher program in community schools. Higher education, we’re providing $7.6 billion for higher education. It’s a $1.6 billion, or 27 percent increase, since 2012. Our Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program, no program like it in the nation. It says to every student, every child tonight who puts his or her head on the pillow, I don’t care if your mother or father can pay for college. If you can get in, you’re going because there’s free tuition to state schools and we’re raising that threshold today, this year, to $125,000 family threshold so the middle class families. What we call the middle class, at $125,000 don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for their kids’ tuition because the state will pay for their tuition to a SUNY or a CUNY school. Today, 55 percent of all SUNY and CUNY students are going to tuition free, and you should feel good about that.

We talked about education. The second need is healthcare and I think they go hand in glove. Everyone needs education, everyone needs healthcare. We are under attack by the Federal Government, especially when it comes to healthcare. We’re looking at about $2.5 billion dollars in what they call DSH cuts, which are to distressed hospitals. About a $1 billion loss in cost-sharing. Medicaid cuts have been proposed, have been threatened, we don’t know what they’re going to be. And we have on top of that, the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, including promoting plans that don’t really cover pre-existing conditions. We need to fund education and we need to fund healthcare. If you look at what we’ve done over the past years, the healthcare funding has been about at the inflation rate. Education funding has been over the education inflation rate. Over the past years, since I’ve been here, we’ve actually put $13.6 billion more into education than its inflation index rate, and healthcare has been about flat. This year I propose 3.6% increase to both healthcare and education. It will give the healthcare industry the help they need to stabilize while we fight off these federal cuts in the meantime which are, long-term, unsustainable for us.

On the MTA and infrastructure, we need to fund NYCTA, which is the New York City Transit Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. And continue building our program in the rest of the state, downstate and upstate. I don’t know why only one person would clap for that. I say to my team all the time. It’s M&M’s, not the candy. It’s always about management, and then it’s about the money. When it comes to the MTA, we have a system that was designed in the 1960s that nobody would design today. The MTA has 17 members on the board, six are appointed by the state, four by New York City, seven by the counties. If the board ever manages to pass anything, the Governor then has a unilateral veto over the capital budget, with no override. It’d be great if I could have that in Albany. You veto it, and there’s no override. The Mayor of the City of New York has a unilateral veto over the capital plan. The Speaker of the Assembly, unilateral veto. The Senate Leader, unilateral veto. So it is an unmanageable process. When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.

Was it a dumb idea when they set it up? No. Was it diabolical? Very. It was purposefully designed so that everyone can point fingers at everybody else, and nobody’s responsible. Why? Because no politician wanted to be responsible. You’re talking about trains and subways and fare increases. And no politician wants to be the one who suggested a fare increase. No politician wants to be responsible for late trains. So they came up with the MTA so everyone could point fingers at somebody else! I can say, it’s not me, I don’t have majority over the board and the capital plan can be overridden by the Mayor or the Speaker or the Senate Leader. The Mayor of New York can say, I only have four, so I don’t control—Speaker Carl Heastie can say, all I get to do is veto, I don’t have anyone on the board. Everybody can point fingers, but nobody has responsibility and nobody has authority. I am telling you, that is the fundamental problem with the MTA. If there is not someone’s name on the line, the bureaucracy governs and fills the void and that’s where we are with the MTA.

It is at a crucial period with the MTA. We have a lot of big projects going on, and it is a crucial point in terms of operation. We’re doing the Long Island Rail Road Transformation, which is a very complicated plan. We’re in the middle of the L-Train Tunnel restoration, which was a very complicated program which just underwent significant changes but, would have impacted 225,000 riders if it was done incorrectly. We have to expand the Second Avenue Subway, we have to finish the new Moynihan Train Hall, which is across the street from Penn. We have to finish the Eastside Access Project in our lifetime. I promised my daughters they would not have to worry about the Eastside Access. But it has been long overdue. It is very complicated and it has to be seized and it has to be finished. And day to day, the train operations are failing. The stations are not clean, the trains are late, they’re not moving quickly enough. And it can be a major impediment to the entire region’s growth. That’s what the MTA could be. 9 million MTA riders, almost half the people in the state of New York ride the MTA, believe it or not.

Now, we propose a reliable funding stream so we don’t have to fight about this every year and they can plan it. I propose first, what’s called congestion pricing. Congestion pricing is—some people actually know what it is, I’m surprised. Congestion pricing has electronic tolling for vehicles that enter what we call the Manhattan Central Business District. 60th Street and south is the Central Business District. It provides toll equity, meaning everybody pays the same toll when you go into the zone. It stops what we call “bridge shopping.” Now, I’m a Queens boy. You can take the 59th Street bridge and not pay a toll or you can go through the Queens-Midtown tunnel and pay a toll. I’m cheap, so I go through the 59th Street Bridge. But literally you are directing traffic by where there’s a toll-free bridge and where there’s not a toll-free bridge. This would say, basically, everyone pays the toll if you’re going into the Central Business District. There would be no toll on the FDR. So if you’re just coming into Manhattan to go north or south there’s no toll on the FDR. We estimate that would raise about $15 billion in capital through congestion pricing. The next question is, is that enough money, the $15 billion, to solve the problems? We don’t think so. Especially with the New York City Transit Authority. We think there’s going to be a shortfall. Facts on the New York City Transit Authority, this was all done in the 60s. New York City owns the New York City Transit Authority, the trains, the stationleases it to the MTA. The law on the books said that as New York City owns it, they should pay for the capital funding, but allowed New York State to contribute to the capital funding starting when New York City had a fiscal crisis in the 1980s. New York State funding over the years – the past 30 years, if you look at how we paid for capital funding: New York City paid about 60 percent of the capital cost, New York State paid about 40 percent. That changed dramatically in the last capital plan where the state put in about 75 percent of the capital. We funded a record level of capital at $8 billion, and we’re proud of it.

Underfunding capital for the past 30 or 40 years has brought us to where we are. That’s how you have subway cars that are 40-50 years old, and electric switches that are 100 years old. So this is an investment that has to be made. If there is a shortfall in the funding after congestion pricing, I propose a 50-50 revenue split between New York City and New York State on the additional capital. Last year we had something called the Subway Action Plan which the legislature had to find. We split that 50-50 between New York City and New York State. I think it’s fair to New York City; I think it’s also fair to Long Island and Buffalo and Westchester and I don’t have a problem saying to anyone across the state keeping that system running helps the entire state. And it is worth splitting the cost with New York City, to make the investment we should’ve made for decades to keep that transportation system vital. And more than anything we have to do it this year, because the status quo has got to go. Riders are fed up, the situation only gets worse. It’s like the old commercial: you can pay me now or you can pay me later. The system is just continuing to deteriorate and if we don’t invest now we’re going to pay more later and suffer in the meantime. Let’s address the MTA. Let’s do it this year.

We also have to make progress all across the state. Keep building the economy. We’ve done $70 billion in construction in the first term, $100 billion in the second. I want to do $150 billion in this third term. We would be leading the nation of all the states in actually building a new transportation system and infrastructure. The economy comes to the state with the transportation and infrastructure. And that’s why it’s coming to New York and we should keep doing that.

We’ll provide $4.4 billion for upstate roads and bridges. That’s part of the $29 billion, five-year plan. $568 in non-MTA transit systems, upstate transit systems. Also $750 million for the REDCs which have been doing great work all across the state. $100 million for our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which ESD and Howard Zemsky have been promoting around the state. It’s been marvelous all across the state, especially in upstate New York with those upstate areas are being revitalized.

Middle class tax cuts: fight SALT, fight SALT, fight SALT. It is a 30 percent tax increase for many New Yorkers. 30 percent tax increase. We pay the highest property taxes in the nation. We pay the highest property taxes in the nation in upstate New York, as a percentage of home value. This says anything over $10,000 you can no longer deduct. I believe not only that’s why we saw the $3 billion hole in our revenues, I believe you’re going to see a revenue crisis in this state and I believe you’re going to see a housing crisis in this state. Because if I can’t deduct my property taxes and it’s going up 30 percent and I’m already paying the highest property taxes in the United States, that is a significant disincentive. And I believe the federal government knew exactly what they were doing. They put us in a position where we are not economically as competitive as the other states. We have to reverse SALT. We made legal changes to find ways around SALT. They don’t want to. We’re suing the federal government, and that’s the only way we’re going to get this done.

We have a democratic delegation in the Congress – I met with them last week – and I said this has to be on the top priorities. In the meantime, as our middle class homeowners are feeling this pressure, and middle class taxpayers, I want to give them some relief and show them that we hear them and know the pain that they’re under and let’s lower the middle class tax rate from 6.85 percent to 5.5 percent, and 6.85 percent to 6 percent. Remember, we’ve already made the tax code much more progressive with more brackets and more tranches and you see it in the numbers. The top earners now pay 20% more and the middle class burden has dropped by 27 percent. So we have a real progressive tax code, but I think lowering taxes for the middle class is a very positive signal to send and I would make permanent the local property tax cap at 2 percent. That is the only that is going to tell people. I understand if New York City does not feel the property tax cap issue the same way Long Island and upstate does. Because it’s not the same issue. They don’t have that same burden of property tax. Between Nassau and Westchester, you’re number one and number two in the nation. You have property taxes of $20, 30, 40,000 in those counties. It makes a real difference, and that SALT lack of deduction makes a real difference. At least if we can say the 2 percent is going to be adhered to, I think it will help give people confidence in the system. That property tax cap has saved the typical homeowner $3,200 already, so it’s making a difference in people’s lives.

We have an opportunity to stand up and be the most progressive state in the United States on women’s leadership issues and we should do it. Let’s start with a constitutional amendment on Roe v. Wade, pass RHA, CCA. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Ensure access to IVF and fertility preservation coverage. Reduce the maternal mortality and morbidity rate, and address the racial disparities that are disgusting. Outlaw non-consensual revenge porn. Eliminate the statute of limitations for rape and modernize the pay equity laws. And let’s be the first state and let’s show this nation what real women’s equality means. And not just talking the talking, but we’re going to walk the walk and we’re going to do it this year.

Protect New Yorkers from emerging health risks. The more we know about chemicals in water and food, the more frightening the situation is. There are 1,000 known carcinogens that are in products that are used every day. We want to pass a consumer right to know act that labels those products that have those carcinogens. I believe we will save lives by raising the smoking law from 18 to 21 years old. I think we should invest $200 million in fighting the scourge of the opioid crisis. It is rampant across the state. It is moving like fire through dry grass. We spent $1.5 million over nine years. If I had more money, I would quadruple it. We’re losing young people every day. We have to do everything we can, and $200 million for comprehensive care, I believe, will save our young people’s lives.

We’ll lead the way with the most aggressive environmental agenda, while the federal government is taking us backwards from the Paris Accords and so forth. We’re going to go the exact opposite direction of the federal government. $2.5 billion in clean water infrastructure. A record high $300 million EPF. The Grumman Plume on Long Island, the discussion has gone on for decades. It is a toxic chemical that is moving through Long Island and steadily moving towards the coast. It is poisoning the wells as it goes. It’s been left by the Grumman Corporation when they were manufacturing. We’ve been talking for decades. Grumman doesn’t want to pay, the Navy doesn’t want to pay. Let us say we’ll do the remediation and then we’re going to sue you to get the money back, but we have to keep our people safe.

I want to invest another 3.6 million in the shellfish restoration program, which is Mother Nature’s way of cleaning and filtering the water. Oysters, shellfish, especially in the downstate area. We’ve had great success with that and Stony Brook is doing a great job at their hatchery. Let’s give them a round of applause. The federal government wants to allow offshore drilling off the coast of Long Island and off the coast of Manhattan. One spill and you would poison the entire harbor. We have to pass a law that stops that and we have to do it this session. Sometimes there’s just a common sense issue.

You look at the damage done by plastic bags, it is everywhere. Hanging from trees, in water, in every community across the state. Let’s once and for all step up. I know it’s not easy, I know everyone has an opinion. Let’s expand the Bottle Bill and let’s ban plastic bags once and for all. And let’s take the next step on the Green New Deal which tackles climate change and starts building the green economy for tomorrow. We know it’s coming, let the economy be here.

Let us set the goal: 100 percent clean power by 2040. Highest in the United States of America. The Climate Action Council to eliminate the state’s carbon footprint and let’s get SUNY ESF to work with the REDC’s to come up with that next little generation of technology and train our workforce for those jobs. Offshore wind has potential, we know it, the industry is moving that way. We want to locate the industry in this state and we want to use it as an alternative. Let’s invest $1.5 million, it’s a real source for renewable energy, and let’s do it this year.

We have communities that are closing old, inefficient power plants. It causes a problem because they lose the property taxes from those old plants. We want those old plants closed, we want more efficient plants, but let’s provide a fund that gives the communities the transition from the loss of that property tax revenue and that’s a $70 million property tax compensation fund so those communities don’t shoulder the burden themselves.

We have record tourism in this state and it’s nice that people come to see us and it makes me feel good about ourselves and who we are. But even more it brings money to this state, not that I’m money conscious. 2017, a new record in tourism. 244 million visitors, it’s a $100 billion industry. More visitors to our State Parks than ever before in history and that’s part of the tourism number. Why? Because we’re investing in our parks, we’re investing in our assets. People have something to see. Let’s continue that with another $110 million on our New York Parks 2020. Hudson River Park, State Park is magnificent. It’s on the west side of Manhattan. It was started by Governor Mario Cuomo and Mayor David Dinkins. Let Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio finally finish that park and $23 million to make it a reality.

Our focus on craft breweries and wineries has worked with tourism. It has been an explosion in activity – quadrupled the number of breweries, the number of wineries up by about 40 percent. That’s because we’ve been promoting I Love New York and our taste products. We should continue doing that. They’re selling, they’re delicious, they’re healthy, and it’s also great for the economy. So it’s a win-win.

At this time, in this nation, let New York stand up for immigrants. Let’s pass the Jose Peralta Dream Act, as an honor to Jose Peralta and his leadership and his memory. God bless him and God bless his family.

We have the first in the Nation Liberty defense project, which is a state lead public-private project to assist immigrants regardless of status in obtaining legal services and resources. We want to continue that and expand it. We should codify, what I did by executive order because I couldn’t get it passed by the senate. Executive Order number 170—state agencies cannot inquire about immigration status. It prevents ICE arrests.

We sued the federal government on their family separation policy and I want to continue that lawsuit because that was a disgusting political abuse of power. And just today, the courts have decided that the citizenship question that was in the census was illegal. Congratulations to the Attorney General’s office that lead the suit. Now let’s go out there and count every New Yorker so we get what we deserve in the state of New York.

Homelessness and affordable housing very simply $20 billion which is the largest commitment to affordable housing this state has ever made. But let’s – you should keep applauding I didn’t mean to interrupt you – this year, this year, we have the opportunity to finally reform the rent regulation program, including eliminating vacancy decontrol, ending preferential rent limits, limiting building and apartment improvement charges, and strengthening the tenant protection unit so we actually enforce those laws.

When it comes to our labor unions, they are under attack by the Supreme Court. They are under attack by the federal administration. Our state Department of Labor will aggressively protect the right to organize and collectively bargain. Let’s extend the Janus protection to all local governments in the state of New York and project construction with public subsidies should be subject to the prevailing wage so they’re built right, they’re built fairly, they’re build union. And that’s long overdue and let’s get it passed this session and let’s show our brothers and sisters in organized labor who may be timid, who may be quiet, who may be shy, but we’re with you anyway. I still can’t hear you, you’re still too shy for me. I love doing that.

When it comes to public safety, over the past two years we spent a hundred millions dollars to fight MS-13 the fight goes on, let’s invest another $45 million dollar in anti-gang operations, violence prevention, and school base support. We have a growing problem of online sexual offenses against children. We want to launch a specialized police unit to prosecute these predators, nothing could be worse. Let’s pass the New York City speed camera laws and stop playing politics that they did last year.

And the Child Victims Act. The Child Victims Act has been too long denied. I am fully aware of the position of the Catholic Church and the opposition of the Catholic Church. I happen to be Roman Catholic. I’m a former altar boy and my relationship with the church is important to me and I’ve found the differences painful over the years. The difference on marriage equality, the difference on a woman’s right to choose, and the difference on the Child Victims Act. But a wise man said, “the abuse of minors is an offense so brutal, the church cannot remain indifferent to this, and the church must punish such priests, and that includes to support the legal action. There is no other way out of this because it’s a crime. No worse, it’s leaving them alive, but destroyed.” That is a true statement, and the Catholic Church should understand that, and that statement was made by Pope Francis and I say we stand with Pope Francis and we pass the Child Victims Act this year because if you believe in justice for all, then you believe in passing the Child Victims Act and follow the leadership of Pope Francis.

When it comes to criminal justice agenda, you should all be proud. Since 2011, we have closed more prisons than any administration in the history of the state of New York, period. This year we are going to eliminate cash bail. We have to enact speedy trial reform, we have to pass discovery reform, and we need to do more services for re-entry for those transitioning from incarceration back to the community. We also have to invest $100 million to make our Raise the Age reform a reality and we have to do it this year.

And New York has to establish a regulated adult-use cannabis program. We had an expert group—State Police, Department of Health come together. They did a report. They said the benefits outweigh the risks. Now we just have to put it in place, and we have to do it in a way that creates an economic opportunity for poor communities and people who paid the price, and not for rich corporations that are going to come in to make a buck. It reduces the impact of criminalization on communities of colors. It will automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records. It implements quality control. Counties and large cities can opt out so we’re not telling them what to do, but they have to affirmatively opt out of the program. No one under 21 years old. It generates approximately $300 million in tax revenue and creates good union jobs that we need.

This is the outline of the overall statewide investments. These are the various offices. This is the overall budget. What’s called the “all funds” budget, brings our budget up to $175 billion. The percentage change is 1.9 percent. School goes up 1.6. State Medicare goes up 3.6. The remainder of the agencies are basically flat. How much each priority costs us. Education is 27 billion dollars, that’s a 3.6 increase. Health care is a $19 billion investment, that’s a 3.6 increase. $15 billion is congestion pricing. $150 billion is our statewide construction initiative. The middle class tax cut is $1.8 billion, but I believe if we don’t keep our middle class and we don’t control their taxes, we’re going to have an issue long term.

Last issue is insuring the public trust. If you read the headlines over the past few years, they have been continuous and they have been disappointing, and they have been disgraceful, and they have been widespread. It looks terrible and it is terrible. Now, we will never stop venial, greedy, ignorant, behavior by people. And we shouldn’t be expected to do that, but we should be expected to do everything we can to have a system in place that safeguards against fraud or theft, and there it is a continuing battle, but there I believe we can do more to ensure the public trust.

We want to enact a public Code of Conduct for lobbyists that stops self-dealing and conflicts of interest so everybody knows who they’re working for. We want to have in the code, we ban the revolving door between a political consultant, who then becomes a lobbyist, to go back and lobby against or for the person that he or she just elected. That is a clear conflict of interest. We expand the lobbying ban for all policy makers and elected officials who would then lobby before their own agency or administration. Disclose conflicts of interests. Require lobbyists to disclose campaign contributions to JCOPE and increase penalties for lobbyists who fail to file to disclose. If the legislature doesn’t want to enact this code of conduct, the executive will unilaterally impose it upon itself. So those lobbyists who do not agree to that Code of Conduct cannot lobby the executive.

Contract procurement review must be performed and government must function on a timely basis. I don’t believe one is the enemy of the other. Yes, review contracts, but yes let’s get it done quickly because government has to function and we have to get things done. Comptroller DiNapoli and I have agreed on a new process to implement procurement reforms. I will direct SUNY, CUNY and OGS to allow the Office of the state Comptroller to pre-audit contracts in excess of $250,000, but the pre-audit must be done in 30 days and for the first time the office of the state Comptroller provides its contracts in excess of $250,000 to the state IG to audit for fraud and hiring practices. I want to publicly thank, the Comptroller for his good work and his cooperation. Thank you.

The State will also require new legal certifications for contracts between a grantor and a grantee. Any state agency that is assuring or issuing a grant has to certify that there was no occlusion, there was no political interference. Disclose any payments they may have received. Disclose any prior relationship. For non-competitive contracts it would be the same with the agency official and the legislature if there’s one involved. Today I’m issuing an Executive Order, number 192, to stop what we call bad vendors. Any contractor or vendor who is deemed barred, or deemed non responsible by one agency

—that will be binding on all other agencies and all other entities.

We also have to combat big money in politics. We will ban corporate contributions to candidates. Close the LLC loophole. Create a public financing system with a six to one match. Reduce the various contribution limits for statewide and local offices. Candidates for legislature should disclose five years of taxes. Bring sunlight and sunshine. Statewide office I think should be 10 years of taxes disclosed. We also have to address the issue of IE’s. I understand the federal case law. But, this now a loophole that is swallowing the law. It is a joke to talk about a $4,000 limit, a $5,000 limit in public finance but then an IE, Independent Expenditure Committee, dark money can come in and spend millions in that race and overwhelm everything. You have PACs who launder money to IE’s which is illegal. You have 501(c)(3)’s that donate to a 501(c)(4). You have dark money that makes a number of contributions to a number of 501(c)s—which are tax exempt. They get the tax deduction—and then contribute it to the 501(c)(4). These loopholes make the entire campaign system fraught for a lack of integrity. You want to talk about franchising individuals who now feel disenfranchised—a corporation a large contributor with a $10 million check can buy an election and nobody knows who he or she is. First of all, it’s a tax fraud. And the State Department of Tax and Finance has to get on the stick and do its job. Second, we have to pass laws that clean up this system and close these IE loopholes.

The old Senate wouldn’t pass a Freedom of Information Law that was binding on the legislature. it’s been proposed before by a number of legislators. They were right and they were visionary. Let’s apply a Freedom of Information Law to the Executive and to the Legislature.

My friends, we can make history. I believe that. I believe we can have the most productive first 100 days in state history. I believe we are in a fundamentally different space and in the old days too many good ideas went to the state Senate to die. Now we’re going to have good ideas going to the state Senate to be born. And I think we should take advantage of this opportunity. I was having a conversation with Leader Stewart-Cousins this morning and she said we have a moment in time, we have a moment in time. Which is true. And if you think about it, that’s all we really have. A moment in time. 40 years, we haven’t had a democratic Senate, Assembly and Governor. Besides one brief period. 40 years. We have a moment in time to change the state. We can do it. It’s just us. We are in control. There is no one else. And I believe that together, we can do it.

For my younger friends, I’m sorry you missed the opportunity to have the counsel of one of the real great public servants. And one of the things my father said was—in campaigns, it’s about what you say. In government, it’s all about what you do. And the great ones know the difference. The great ones know the difference. The great ones know the difference. The time for talking is over. It is the time for doing. Government’s credibility comes from accomplishing. From performing. Nobody wants to hear “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. I think this, I think this, I think this.” Have you done anything that would lead me to suggest that you can do anything that’s going to help me, right? And that’s where we’re running into frustration with the body politic. People have real problems—they haven’t had enough help in their life. And that’s what government is supposed to do. And that’s what the great ones do. And I believe in this moment with this legislature, I believe we have great ones at the table. And I believe great ones can actually make this a moment in history.

And leadership, by great ones, is about passing all the bills and balancing the budget. But it’s also about something else. It’s about providing leadership in the moment. And leadership at a time of turmoil and loss and this nation in this moment is lost. It is freighting what is happening. The number of anti-Semitic attacks are up 90 percent in New York State. In New York State, 90 percent. Neo-Nazi groups up 22 percent. Hate crimes up every year. Think about that. After all we’ve gone through. The social fabric is unraveling. Yes, we have to do something practically about it and we’re going to spend more money for our non-public schools making sure they’re safe. A diversity agenda in schools. We’ll increase the penalty on hate crimes. But it’s more than that.

New York is different than the other states. We are the laboratory for the American experiment in democracy. It all started here. They got off the boat, they were brought in chains. They came here first. We are 19 million people. From every spot on the globe in the most dense location in the country if not in the world. And we are more sophisticated and we have gone through this situation. We get it. We know it. We know what is going on out there. People are angry, people are frustrated. And that anger turns to a fear. And the fear turns to a division. And people are now angry one at another. And we have a federal government that is fanning the flames of fear. Why? Because they believe it works for them. They believe it works for them. Divide and conquer. Divide by race. Divide by religion. Divide by income. It’s not a new or novel tactic. It’s an old and ugly tactic. And what happens is you’re spreading an American cancer where one cell in the body attacks other cells in the body. And the body consumes itself. It has to stop.

And this is not just anti-New York. This anti-American. The motto of this nation—that is on the seal of the nation, that is on the flag behind the President’s desk—says E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. That’s the concept that founded the nation. Bring all these different faces, bring all these different people from all these different places together as one. That’s what founded the country. And the hypocrisy—I did my inaugural at Ellis Island just to make this point. You know who came through Ellis Island? A gentleman named Richard Cawley. A poor Irish immigrant who came during the potato famine. You know who his grandson is? Vice President Michael Pence. You know who else came through New York harbor? Frederick Trump, grandfather of Donald Trump. The greatest arrogance is when you forget where you came from, and where you started, and this is the greatest arrogance. We all came from somewhere else. We are all immigrants. Unless you are a Native American—you are an immigrant. Why, you’re not an Immigrant, Joe? You were here on the Mayflower?

Governor Cuomo Outlines 2019 Justice Agenda

My friends, my friends—they call us on our seal. It says the Great State of New York. The Great State of New York. You know why New York is great? Because New York rejects divide and conquer and we believe in unify and grow. New York is great because we believe in community and mutuality and we believe the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. And we believe in shared success and cooperation. And we believe when one is lifted we are all lifted. We are great because we believe the strongest four-letter word is still love. Not hate. And we are strong enough to say it. We are great because our motto is I Love New York. But that New York loves you. New York loves you if you are L or G or B or T or Q, if you are black or white or brown, if you are a Christian, a Muslim, or if you are Jewish. If you are a new immigrant or an old immigrant. New York loves you and what makes us great is we have no tolerance for hate in our state. That’s New York. And that’s who we are. And that’s our message to this nation. Thank you and God bless you.