After just one year as the chief executive in New York, Andrew Cuomo’s tenure has already been marked by several significant pieces of legislation, including a property tax cap, legalizing same-sex marriage, and more recently, amending the state income tax.
Today, Governor Cuomo issued his State of the State Address for 2012, outlining several agenda items for the upcoming year, including “reimagining government.” “We have to fundamentally reimagine how government operates,” said Cuomo, “[w]e need a government that performs better and costs less.” Cuomo proposed several items to achieve the “reimagining” of government, including: abstaining from new taxes, mandate relief, reforming the pension system, establishing a “Virtual Capitol Online” to give citizens direct access to state government, reforming the public education system, and redesigning the state’s emergency management system in the wake of the 2011 Hurricanes.
Other highlights of the Governor’s address included:
- Proposing to build the largest convention center in the United States at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, and then redevelop the aging Jacob Javits Convention Center into a mixed use facility, featuring housing, office space, hotels, and museums.
- A $1 Billion dollar revitalization program for the City of Buffalo.
- A second round of Regional Economic Development Awards, to follow up on the popularity of the awards given out in 2011; as well as a second round of “Challenge Grants” to State University (SUNY) Research Centers, following 2011’s NYSUNY 2020 Program.
- Beginning the process of amending the State Constitution to legalize casino gambling.
- Rebuilding State infrastructure, including bridges, highways, state parks, and dams; and additionally establishing an “Energy Highway” from upstate and western New York, as well as Quebec to assist the growth of other regions of the state.
- Creating an “All-Crimes DNA Database” through legislation that will require the collection of DNA from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor.
- Expanding the State’s solar energy programs while improving and developing energy-conservation techniques statewide.
- Strengthening New York’s agricultural economy through low interest loans and upgraded farm infrastructure.
- Instituting campaign finance reform through a system of public funding of elections, lowered contribution limits, pay-to-play rules to restrict out of state lobbyists, and creating an enforcement unit for the State Board of Elections; additionally the Governor pledged to support independent redistricting.
- Establishing a Tax Reform and Fairness Commission to propose long-term solutions to the State’s Tax Code.
- Continued protection of reproductive rights, including women’s right to choose.
- Establishing a New New York Leaders Initiative to train the future leaders and policymakers of the state through two educational programs: the Student Intern Program and an Empire State Fellows Program.
The 2012 State of the State Address can be accessed here.