Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out a sweeping agenda for 2015, in today’s joint State of the State and budget address. The two yearly presentations were combined following the death of Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo on Jan. 1.
Many of the proposals the governor emphasized in his speech, have been rolled out in recent weeks, like the $1.7 billion tax relief proposal, and the $500 million project to expand broadband across the state.
Cuomo offered a shout-out to one central New York institution, the New York State Fair, which he said needs a state-supported update.
"Let’s reimagine the state fair. Let’s invest in it. Let’s be proud of it,” said Cuomo. “Let’s get a private sector company to come in and partner with us and invest $50 million and turn around the state fair the way the state is turning around.”
On the more controversial issue of education, which has pitted the governor against the state teachers unions, Cuomo proposed a revamped teacher evaluation system that he says should incentivize and reward good teachers. He also wants the legislature to approve more slots for charter schools, and early education programs starting at the age of three.
And Cuomo says if lawmakers can stand up to political pressure and pass these reforms, there will be more state aid for schools.
Other proposals included ideas rolled out in recent weeks, including an upstate economic development competition for $1.5 billion, a $1.7 billion property tax relief bill, and a $1 billion project to bring broadband to all parts of the state.
Cuomo will hand off the proposals he made in his speech in his $141.6 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year. That’s up about $4 billion from the current budget. Lawmakers have until April first to approve a budget.
The speech was tinged with a bit of sadness, as the spirit of former Gov. Mario Cuomo hung over the room filled with lawmakers from around the state, and the Cuomo family.
There was a moment of silence for the former governor at the start of the almost 90-minute speech. And at the end, Andrew Cuomo quoted his father as he emphasized that all parts of the state can work together, and embody the “family of New York."
“And pop, where ever you are, and I think you know where, for all the ceremony and the big house and all the pomp and circumstance, please don’t let me forget what makes New York, New York.”