Governor Andrew Cuomo said budget cuts alone will not help New York State reclaim its post as the Empire State, as he called for a transformation of the way the state does business and helps businesses.
In his first State of the State address, Cuomo said change was inevitable. “The old way wasn’t working,” he said.
He wants to make the state more business-friendly, mainly by lowering the state’s highest-in-the-nation business taxes while also cutting property taxes. “New York is taxing people to death,” he said.
Cuomo also called for immediate ethics reform and announced the creation of teams to work on combining or eliminating some state functions.
His speech drew praise from Democrats and unusually warm praise from opposition Republicans, who reacted positively to Cuomo’s message of fiscal conservatism and of working with Republicans to make change happen.
Below, you can read comments submitted by State Senator Patty Ritchie and State Assemblyman Will Barclay on the speech, and you can hear Cuomo’s entire 45 minute speech in the slideshow player.
Statement from State Senator Patty Ritchie:
State Senator Patty Ritchie (R,C-Heuvelton) today applauded Governor Cuomo’s candid and realistic assessment of the “State of New York State,” and promised to work closely with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get New York back on the right track and restore trust in government.
“It’s refreshing to have a Governor who recognizes that it will take more than just tough talk to get us out of the fiscal crisis the Empire State is facing. We have to make tough choices, and I stand ready to work with Governor Cuomo and colleagues from both sides of the political aisle to make the tough choices, help restore the public’s faith and trust in state government, and get New York back on track,” said Senator Ritchie.
Senator Ritchie said she was pleased with the Governor’s promise to oppose new taxes and borrowing, a commitment she has already made to taxpayers.
“If we hope to end New York State’s terrible image as the worst place to do business in the nation, and create the good jobs that our citizens need, we need to engrave that promise in the granite of the capital building,” she said.
Senator Ritchie said that while she understands the need to reduce spending, she will work to protect the communities of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, to ensure that the region is treated fairly in upcoming budget negotiations.
Statement from State Assemblyman Will Barclay:
“I’m encouraged by the Governor’s remarks today on creating a new beginning, and letting people be proud of being a New Yorker again.
“My colleagues and I have long advocated for reducing state government. We can also improve Medicaid efficiency by eliminating fraud and abuse. It is true that in restructuring government, more can be accomplished with fewer resources. I hope to see this come to fruition.
“The Governor mentioned that people have acted with their feet on how they have been adversely affected by New York’s policies; in the last decade, we’ve lost 2 million residents who have found other states more inviting with lower property taxes and better-paying jobs. Another 800,000 remain jobless. Meanwhile, in the last decade, we’ve solidified a reputation for having the highest taxes in the nation and being unfriendly to business. I liked his reference to recreating our state so that the heart of our policy is focused on business again—returning New York to the Empire State. That’s a motto our whole state can get behind. My colleagues and I have long advocated for a business-friendly state, however, we must undo a good deal of damage that has been done in order to accomplish this monumental goal. In the last two years alone, taxes and fees have increased by $10 billion. Those are hard numbers to argue with. The people have spoken over and over again: ‘reduce spending and taxes’ and ‘make do with what we have.’
“I’m encouraged also by the bottom-up economic development plans and the restructuring of job creation to work more with the private sector as well as our universities. Many regions, including Central and Northern New York, have seen success with this model.
“I look forward to learning more in detail of his plans in February when his budget is presented to the Legislature. I’m also hopeful that this budget session will be uncharacteristically Albany—in that it will include rank and file members rather than three men in a room whom do not pass each other’s ships in the night.”