In Annual Address, New York Governor Pledges Lower Taxes and Statewide Pre-K
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, entering an election year with no formidable opponent and an improving economy, claimed on Wednesday to have brought New York State back from the brink of financial ruin and unveiled proposed tax cuts and a promise of statewide prekindergarten classes, telling lawmakers that when he became governor, New York was “literally a joke on late night TV.”
In his State of the State address, which governors have typically used to lay out their past accomplishments and future priorities, Mr. Cuomo sought to put his record in the best possible light. His staff even provided reporters the number of times he was applauded (65). He said the upstate economy had improved, unemployment had fallen in every region and taxes for every New Yorker were down. He mentioned the word tax or taxes about 40 times, mostly to assert that he had managed to drive them down.
The governor, who has strong favorability ratings, ample campaign money and hopes of securing a second term in November, delivered the speech, just over an hour long, to a mostly supportive crowd.
One of the more intriguing audience members was Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, who had traveled to Albany on the first official visit of his administration; Mayor de Blasio met with Democratic leaders and received an admiring reception.
The greeting was not so warm outside the hall where Mr. Cuomo delivered his speech, as protesters opposing issues like hydraulic fracturing, the gas extraction method also known as fracking, gathered amid heavy security.
And many groups had many complaints. Retirees were irritated at the lack of any mention of support for care givers. Environmentalists pointed out that nothing in the speech dealt with sustainability. Advocates for the poor noted there was little mention of antipoverty initiatives. Drug reform groups wanted Mr. Cuomo to talk more about marijuana.
The speech capped a busy few days in Albany. On Monday, Mr. Cuomo announced a sweeping $2 billion tax relief proposal — a grab bag of cuts for renters, property and business owners and upstate manufacturers. On Tuesday, joined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the governor identified the many ways New York would spend over $16 billion in federal disaster aid on items like high-tech weather stations and seals for entrances to subway stations. He also disclosed his support for loosening restrictions on marijuana, saying he planned to use an executive action that would allow limited use of the drug by those with serious illnesses.