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Cuomo doing the right thing

Elinor Tatum | 2/27/2014, 4:38 p.m.
Elinor Tatum

Every week, a surprise seems to come out of Albany. And for the most part, they are surprises that are positive for our communities. Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out in support of universal pre-K, with the state putting its money where its mouth is.

Last week, his prison education initiative showed us his commitment to changing the status quo and helping to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Now he has come to the aid of over 300,000 New York families to help preserve the over $450 million a year that would have been cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the new federal farm bill.

This action by the governor will help alleviate the average $127-a-month cut to families receiving SNAP benefits. This action will keep families from having to choose heat versus food versus medicine. This initiative preserves the level of assistance that our most needy get and shows us that this governor has a focus on our communities.

Many may say the governor is doing this because he is running for office again. They say it is because it is politically expedient, that he wants to be president. Few have said it is because he just wants to do the right thing, but does that really matter? What matters is that our communities are getting fed, that they have heat.

The men and women that will be released from prison will have had an opportunity to get a degree while incarcerated, and our children will get a head start with universal pre-K. The motive is secondary, the action is primary, and actions speak volumes.

So now, Mr. Governor, while you are on a roll, there are many other items we would like for you to continue working on. We need more employment opportunities for our young people to provide them with skills and keep them out of harm’s way. Funding needs to be expanded for anti-violence initiatives in the state, and those programs that work need to be recognized and replicated. Our mom-and-pop businesses need more help. While creating new businesses is tremendously important, we have to preserve the jobs we have and the entrepreneurial spirit that these families have worked so hard to create and maintain.

And lastly, Mr. Governor, we need to see you. We need to see you in our schools, at our churches and community centers. We need to see you walk our streets. We need to feel your presence. Please take some time and get to know us. Don’t be a stranger!