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State of the State champions Cuomo’s accomplishments and plans new ones

Stephon Johnson | 1/9/2014, 11:47 a.m.
Andrew Cuomo Pat Arnow

On Wednesday in Albany, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out his accomplishments in a PowerPoint presentation and virtually puffed his chest at the prospect of addressing his future goals for the state.

In his State of the State address, the governor discussed his desire to continue to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, launch a program to research the feasibility of a medical marijuana program in New York and provide tax relief for renters facing significant housing burdens. But Cuomo wanted to remind New Yorkers that things were looking up with the state.

“We have given New Yorkers a government that costs less, taxes less and actually does more for the people who are in need,” said Cuomo. “The arrows are pointing up.”

The governor also introduced proposals for tax cuts and infrastructure projects during his speech and discussed installing statewide pre-kindergarten programs for all New York children, but didn’t disclose how he would fund it. Cuomo’s also remained mum on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed plan to tax residents who make $500,000 or more to fund his pre-K program.

Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director of the Alliance for Quality Education, called out Cuomo for his education stance in a statement released to the AmNews. She remains skeptical about his approach.

Gov. Cuomo’s promise for universal pre-K is welcome, but it should not become an excuse to block New York City from paying its own way and getting all 4-year-olds in pre-K this year,” said Ansari. “Mayor de Blasio has a plan for how New York City can guarantee full-day pre-K for every child, not as a futuristic goal, but right now.

“Gov. Cuomo has marvelous rhetoric when it comes to education—however, the reality has fallen way short of the rhetoric,” continued Ansari. “Nothing in his speech today suggests that he is going to finally address the inequality between rich and poor school districts.”

In somewhat of a surprise, Cuomo also announced the state’s takeover of the management responsibility for the construction projects at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, usurping that responsibility from the Port Authority.

We’re going to redevelop those airports the way they should have been redeveloped years ago,” Cuomo said.

But one piece of news made some activists and social justice advocates happy: Cuomo announced his approval of the potential raise in the age at which New York state courts are allowed to try a person as an adult. The governor wants to establish a “Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice” to provide recommendations regarding New York state’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. New York remains only one of two states in the country whose age of criminal responsibility is 16.

Members of the Raise the Age advocacy group sent out a joint statement praising Cuomo for this new development.

We applaud Gov. Cuomo for raising this important issue in his State of the State address and making a commitment to reform this outdated law,” read the statement. “We look forward to working with the commission to quickly develop comprehensive legislation that ensures our state finally treats children as children in the legal system, bringing it into line with the scientific research and the 48 other states that recognize it as best for public safety and our children.”