New York State of the State Address 2013
By Stateline Staff
ALBANY, New York -- Jan. 9 -- Following is the prepared text of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) 2013 State of the State Address:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Happy New Year New York!
First, let me acknowledge and thank the greatest partner a Governor could ever have, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, who has been magnificent in the work that he has done for this state. You know the question about can one person make a difference in life? Bob Duffy has made a tremendous difference all across this state and we all owe him a debt of gratitude, let’s give him another round of applause.
To the elected and legislative leaders who have been introduced once before but please indulge me – Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, pleasure to be with you. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, thank you for being here. Co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein, Senators, it is a pleasure to be with you; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. I want to thank them for their leadership because last year and the year before were extraordinary years for this state, and the legislative accomplishments really turned this state around.
And they were difficult and they were challenging because they went to the real heart of the issues, but they did it. And at this time I would ask the Assembly and the Senate to stand so you can be recognized for your great work. Stand, please.
Chief Judge Lippman, members of the Court, welcome to all of you, we thank you. As you heard earlier, and I hope as you can tell, the Capitol looks a little bit different than it did over the past two years. The renovation has been completed. The renovation was accelerated and it was actually extended. It is complete. The building has been refurbished, the skylights are open, it’s in better shape than it has been in many, many years.
I remember the first time I walked into the Capital when I was a young fellow, how I was awed and overwhelmed by the beauty and the majesty of the building and what it represented, and the power and the respect that the building represented. Somewhere along the way it lost that luster, both physically and symbolically. We had a great team of the Office of General Services and the New York State Museum that worked tirelessly to put it together and let’s thank OGS Commissioner Roanne Destito and Joe Rabito and Mark Shamming, we thank you very much for your work.
This year as we all know we’ve had more than our share of tragedies. From Webster to Hurricane Sandy, we saw New York at its worst, but we also saw New York at its best. And you saw a period of unparalleled heroism by people all across this state. Leading with our first responders – police officers, fire officers, New York State police who are here today, we ask them to stand joined by Superintendent Joe D’Amico. Please stand so we can thank you.
Throughout the hurricanes – whether it’s Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Irene from last year – if you ask any community, any elected official, any citizen in any community, who or what was the core of the rescue operation, what was the core of the volunteer operation, they will say nine times out of 10 the National Guard. The National Guard was our main weapon, our main asset in providing recovery for communities all across this state. We’re blessed with great young men and women who believe in this state deeply, believe in their service. They have a great leader in General Murphy, they are with us today and we’d ask them to stand so we can show our appreciation. Thank you.
Through these crises, government worked. New York State government worked. The agency heads deserve credit. People who drive the trucks deserve credit, the people who drive the heavy equipment deserve credit, CSEA deserves credit, PEF deserves credit, let’s give the state workers a round of applause for their great work. You also had some extraordinary leadership by the local elected officials who were in the hardest hit areas, especially during Hurricane Sandy. And I would ask you to join me now in giving a special thank you to truly heroic and accomplished leadership by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City; County Executive Ed Mangano from Nassau County; Executive Steve Bellone from Suffolk County. Please stand so we can recognize you.
And Reverend Mullings, who gave us the invocation had a church in the middle of the Rockaways, told you half of the story. The Reverend to me epitomizes what citizens did all across this state. The Reverend took his church, they removed all the pews, they removed all the artifacts, and they literally turned it into an emergency shelter for state workers, local workers, for the FEMA workers to work out of the church. And I remember speaking to the reverend about it and he said ‘what is a better use for a church during a storm when people are in need than to literally turn it into a shelter?’ It was right and it was true but it was hard to do. He was there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He was the moral support for the community. He represents the best leadership of New Yorkers. I’d ask him to stand so we can give him a round of applause. I was at the Reverend’s church so many times I thought I should put money in the plate, but I owe you Reverend.
Despite all of these efforts – despite all of the efforts of the first responders, the police, the fire, the National Guard, the heroism of citizens – we still lost lives during Hurricane Sandy. We lost 60 of our brothers and sisters who were New Yorkers at the damage of the storm and I would ask us now to give them a moment of silence. Thank you.
The past few weeks and few months have been a blizzard of emotion – incidents from the unimaginable to the unforgettable; from acts of cowardice to acts of heroism; from cause for despair to cause for celebration. It’s almost hard to get your bearings in the midst of all of it.
So let’s take a step back. Two years ago in this room when we did the State of the State, we said the state was at a crossroads, and that the state needed to chart a new course and begin a new journey if it was going to have a different future. We said we had to start by restoring the public trust and by renewing the dream. We had to reverse decades of decline in economic communities all across the state, especially upstate New York, and we had to start a New York comeback. We said our core elements for this comeback were to attract good jobs and economic growth, create a world class education system, establish fiscal integrity and discipline, and restore New York as the progressive capital of the nation once again. Well my friends, we are on our way.
Governor Al Smith liked to say ‘let’s look at the record.’ Well let’s look at the record. Gone is the obstructionist state bureaucratic culture, replaced with a new entrepreneurial government. Gone is the tax capital mentality, replaced with a property tax cap, tier VI, and the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years. Gone is the anti-business mentality, replaced with regional collaboratives and a new public-private sector partnership that is working extraordinarily well. Gone is the political gridlock, replaced with a government that puts politics aside, remembers why they’re here, puts the people first, and makes the government work for the people of the state once again.
Our state capital is restored to its original majesty in many, many ways. We set out two years ago to bridge the divide. We needed to bridge a divide from yesterday to tomorrow; from what was to what can be; from dysfunction to performance; from cynicism to trust; from gridlock to cooperation to make the government work. And we are, literally and metaphorically. And we are building a new Tappan Zee Bridge – it is big, it is bold, it is beautiful, together we did it in one year when they talked about it for 10, and that’s what making government work is all about, producing for the people of this state, and that’s what we’re doing.
Now I would like to be able to say our job is done and it’s over. But we have more to do. As a matter of fact, we have much, much more to do. The national economy is better than it was but it’s not driving recovery at a fast enough pace. Our mantle as the progressive capital is a continuing responsibility. It doesn’t end. Upstate New York needs more investment and more assistance. Our children are not being educated to the fullest.
Women are not treated equally and fairly by this society. And Mother Nature has not been kind to us. And as government leaders, our responsibility means that we have to meet all these needs. Yes, it’s an overwhelming burden, but that’s why we’re here. Our accomplishments over the past two years to me say that one thing is clear: we can defy the odds, and we can deny the naysayers, we’ve done it for two years. We can accomplish anything we want when we work together. So let us begin.
New York’s one-two punch is jobs and education. Economic development is the engine that drives the state. We must expand our New York Open for Business efforts that are all working extraordinarily well. Our macro efforts which brought fiscal integrity to the state, which after years of chaos which is after years of humiliation, we passed responsible budgets and we passed them on time. And we must do it again.
We made a profound pledge to the New New York, a pledge that resonated across the country. And that pledge was no new taxes, and that signaled that it was a new day in New York and we must do it again, no new taxes in the New New York. We have regional economic development partnerships that are a tremendous success and frankly working better than anyone could have anticipated, and they are the foundation of our economic development efforts. We have great co-chairs who have given tremendous time all across the state. I would ask them to stand today so they can be recognized and we can show our appreciation.
The economic challenge that continues is tech-transfer from academia to commercialization. This is still the area where New York has been lagging. New York universities are ranked second nationally in total research dollars spent. California is first, but New York only gets 4% of the nation’s venture capital while California gets 47%. We’re doing the research, we’ve developed the ideas, we have the academic institutions; we’re not making the transference to commercialization.
That gap is what we have to fix and that’s what we have to fill. To help do that, we propose creating new innovation hotspots. An innovation hotspot is a high-tech incubator between the higher-ed and the private sector for startup companies. An innovation hotspot will be a tax-free zone. No business, real property, or sales tax. If a business stays an incubated business; is located in that zone, they will pay no tax. That zone will provide one-stop funding and services – legal services, accounting services, all the services they need to grow their business.
We also want the state to be in a position where the state can invest, through a venture capital fund, in those businesses. We want to pick five winners through the REDCs this year and five winners next year for a total of 10. We need to change the culture in order to encourage tech-transfer and the commercialization of ideas across the board. And we want to set up a new organization called the Innovation New York Network. The Innovation New York Network will be based on the highly successful Connect model from San Diego which has done great things for that city and that region. The network will be a collaboration between venture capitalists and higher education to foster commercialization. It will also inform us as to what regulations are counterproductive. Initial Innovation members will be Jim Simons, David Skorton, and Tim Killeen. Let’s give them a round of applause and thank them for their service.
We must continue to reduce costs of doing business in the new New York. We must reduce the crushing burden of unemployment insurance and workers comp. You will hear this from almost every businessman in New York. We propose a reform of the workers comp program that would streamline the system. We would also reform the unemployment insurance program by ending borrowing to pay benefits for the first time in state history. It will reduce the cost to business while also increasing the benefits to workers for the first time since 1999. And it will save $1.3 billion to business, just think about that.
The economy of tomorrow is the clean tech economy. We all know it, it’s a foot race – whatever state, whatever region gets there first wins the prize, and we want it to be New York. We want to create the New York Greenbank, which is a $1 billion bank to leverage public dollars with private sector matched money to spur the clean economy. We want to extend the New York’s sun solar jobs program at $150 million annually for 10 years to increase solar panel installations for home and business. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for the economy. We want to create the Charge New York program. This is the future, my friends, and we want to invest in an electric car network to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, installing a statewide network of charging stations and have New York be one of the forerunners in this race all across the country.
We want to create a cabinet level energy czar to marshal all the assets and do this in a comprehensive, holistic way and we want to attract a national star to lead our efforts and we did. It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Mr. Richard Kauffman, former senior advisor to the United States Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu. He's leaving Washington. He's coming to New York. He's going to lead our efforts. We couldn't have a better man in the country. Mr. Richard Kauffman, welcome aboard.
One of our other challenges is to have a ready workforce. Our workforce training is still from a different era. We've talked about this for many, many years, but we haven’t made enough progress. We must match and train our workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We must change and reimagine the way SUNY and CUNY community college systems work. A generic job training program just doesn’t cut it anymore. We need a job linkage program.
Jobs are coming back from overseas. That’s the good news. What the employers found out was that more than low-paid workers, employers needed high-skilled labor. They learned that lesson and they're coming back and we see them coming back to New York. That's our opportunity but we have to be ready for it. There are 210,000 unfilled jobs in New York because the companies can't find workers with the skills we need. Our next generation New York job linkage program will change the paradigm. It will work with employers to identify the job, define the skill set that that job needs, train to that skill set and place the person in that job.
We want to base the state funding of colleges on a pay for performance model. Colleges will be getting paid for the placement of students as opposed to just the training of students. This has worked well. We have successfully models in New York - Monroe and Finger Lakes, it's worked well across the country. With all of this, we need an additional focus on upstate New York.
There have been decades of decline in upstate New York. When you look at the job growth in upstate New York, frankly it is sad and it is troubling. Over the past ten years, upstate New York 5% while the state as a whole 11%, double the growth of upstate, New York City 16%, and the nation 9%. The nation's growth led upstate New York’s growth. That is just unacceptable. We've implemented a number of programs to revitalize upstate. It’s been a priority for the past two years as you know. OUR Buffalo Billion program, the REDCs, regional economic development councils, the majority of which are upstate New York. The energy highway, property tax cap made a major difference in upstate New York, agriculture initiatives.
Today's new initiatives will also work for upstate New York. The hot spots, the clean tech, the workers comp that we talked about, the training linkages, but we want to do even more. Currently there's no real marketing plan for upstate New York. We'll start the market in New York which will be a multifaceted marketing plan to bolster upstate growth. First we'll have a coordinated marketing plan around New York products, wine, beer and yogurt. We’ll start a taste of New York program which will aggressively market these products. They’re excited to be here. They're expanding. We've developed a strong relationship with them. We want to invest with them. We will also create duty free stores, all across the nation to promote, all across the state, I’m sorry, to promote New York grown and produced products. Next year the duty free stores will be expanding to a national chain.
Second, we will market regional attraction. Currently what the state does is we fund county tourism boards, which has caused counties to compete with one another. We want counties being part of regions and developing regional synergies. So we'll have a competition among regions that will actually bring the counties together to come up with a coordinated marketing plan to develop and market those assets in those regions. We will hold the five-million dollar annual competitions to develop the best marketing plans and we have the assets, we just need the marketing. From Niagara Falls to the Finger Lakes to the Thousand Islands to Hudson Valley, we have it all.
Third, we will have marketing campaigns around special events to attract special events because our challenge is to reintroduce people to the beauty and the assets of upstate New York. I believe that if they see upstate New York, they will come back but we need to make that introduction. We now have great special events across upstate New York. This is the balloon festival in Glens Falls. It's magnificent if you haven’t had a chance to be there before. Give Glens Falls a, don't just have Betty clap for Glens Falls.
For example, New York has some of the best whitewater rafting in the nation. I bet you maybe you didn’t even know that. So this year we are going to sponsor a national whitewater rafting competition called the Adirondack Challenge.
We are going to have a special part of the Adirondack competition which can be between government officials. And we are going to start a politician division actually, and we are going to have a set of rules that were very carefully drafted and reviewed by counsel. First rule is you must have all, you must have at least six people in the raft. The teams must be co-ed, preferably evenly divided. Rafters must be bona fide government employees for at least six months and they must have been hired before today. All rafters must paddle. No freeloaders, this is not government. Identical rafts and identical equipment will be provided among all the teams. Of course except for necessary security reasons.
There will be a number of challenges. The first challenge will be the Executive to the Assembly challenge and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, avid outdoorsman, mountaineer, will be the captain of the Assembly raft if he so chooses. Next challenge will be the Senate challenge with co-leaders Skelos, guys you have to paddle the same way, guys. Paddle the same way. We’ll have a New York State-New York City challenge, and we have the SS Bloomberg, and Mayor Bloomberg always looks good doing whatever he’s doing. I will have my own team. I will have my Brawny Paper Towel Man shirt that I’m wearing. I will have an identical raft that is identical in all ways, except the State Police insist that because I respond to so many emergencies on such a frequent basis now, my raft needs an engine. Otherwise it will be the same. That is the Adirondack Challenge; it is scheduled for this year. I hope the challenge is accepted and I hope that we are all successful.
Another major potential to bring people to upstate New York is to increase tourism through destination resort casinos.
Now, some people will say New York is not in the casino business, we’re in the racino business, they will say. I would say those people are in a different state called the state of denial because nobody knows that we’re not in the casino business - especially the casinos. If you look at how the casinos advertise, what they say they are, what it says on television, what it says inside the casino, we are in the casino business. We may technically call it the racino business, we may not regulate it the right way, we may not get the right revenues from it but we have backed into the casino business, through the name of the racino business.
We now have 17 facilities across the state operating, holding themselves out as casinos. And we say in this town we say no, no, they’re all wrong, they’re really racinos. No, they’re operating as casinos. We’re also surrounded by casinos, 39 close to the border where we’re losing revenue every day because people are going to those casinos to play. We propose a casino gaming plan to boost upstate development.
There are now 8.2 million residents about in New York City. There are 50 million tourists to New York City every year. A major challenge for us and a major opportunity for us is to get that traffic from New York City to upstate New York. As I said before, I believe if they visit, they will come back and they will stay, but we have to get them there. And I believe casinos in upstate New York could be a great magnet to bring the New York City traffic up. They now go to New Jersey, they go to Connecticut, why don’t we bring them to upstate New York? We propose a casino gaming plan to boost upstate New York.
We propose phase one, three casinos all in upstate New York. No casinos in New York City because the plan is to bring downstate New Yorkers to upstate. If you put a casino in New York City, they’ll go to the New York City casino. The people who come in from out of town will go to the New York City casino. We want them going upstate and using this as a magnet to get people upstate. We propose a revenue split of 90% of the funds for education, 10% for local tax relief.
We believe the local government and the communities should have a right to support or not support and that should be a factor in the selection of the facility at that location. We believe we should hold a national competition. I have reason to believe the best casino companies in the country and the world will come in to compete but I believe we should keep the politics out of the decision and leave it to the gaming commission to pick the best on the merits. This would require a November referendum.
In terms of education, Governor Seward said the standard of education ought to be elevated. It is the highest; education is the chief of our responsibilities. He said that in 1839; it is true today. When it comes to education, I say two words: more and better. We need more learning time in this country. Not just in this state. Secretary Arne Duncan put his finger on this a long time ago. We are still providing education as if we were an agrarian economy and an agrarian society and we needed the children home to work the fields.
That’s why our school day and school months is what it is. The advantages of more education are clear. When you look internationally, countries that are beating us educated their children more – just more days on education. 200 for Korea, 190 for Canada, 179 for the United States. We need more learning time, my friends, if we really are serious about improving education. There are three options for more time.
Option A is longer days, extend the school day beyond 3 o’clock or start the school day earlier. Option B is to have a longer year, less summer vacation or fewer vacations during the year. Or you could do a combination of both. Now, these are big decisions, they impact families, they impact neighborhoods. There’ll be different opinions on these options. Our proposal is that we, the state, makes it an option for every school district in the state, if they want to opt in and how they want to opt in - longer day, longer year, combination. It’s up to them. But if they do it, the state would pay 100% of the additional cost to give them the incentive to actually do it.
We need more early education. Every expert will tell you that early education makes a difference and it makes the difference for life. The statistics are overwhelming. Children who receive early education perform 25% better on math by the second grade, 20% better on English, 30% are more likely to graduate from high school, 32% are less likely to be arrested as a juvenile. We should provide real pre-k for all our children. Currently we have universal pre-k but it’s only provided by 67% of the school districts and on average, they only offer two and a half hours per day. We will expand the pre-k program to full-day pre-k, five hours. And we will start with students in the lowest wealth school districts. Let’s do it today.
We need better teachers. Teaching is one of the most important professions in society. We must attract and incentivize the best to become teachers. We need to overhaul the teacher training and certification process, increase admission standards, and we should implement a bar exam type test that every teacher takes and must pass before we put them in a classroom to teach our students. We’ve been working to change the culture in education and create a performance culture. For a performance culture, first you need an evaluation mechanism. You need to know what’s working, what’s not working, what teachers are working, what teachers are not working. Incentivize the teachers that are and help the teachers that aren’t.
We started last year a teacher evaluation system, after years and years and years of dallying and opposition and lack of progress, we said last year we agreed on an evaluation system and then we said to the school districts across the state, we want you to adopt it, we want you to adopt it by the end of the year, and if you don’t, you’re not going to get the increase of 4% that we promised in the budget. Well my friends, the 4% agreement worked; 99% of the school districts have submitted a teacher evaluation test already ahead of the deadline, congratulations. We want to keep it going; more than 90% of the plans that have come in last only for one year. We want to keep in the model that in order to get the additional aid, you have to continue the evaluation process.
Second we must pay for performance and incentivize high performing teachers. You have to say to a teacher if you work harder and you do better and your students do better, you will do better and you will have a higher award. So we propose a program where high performing, what we call master teachers, will receive $15,000 in supplemental income annually for four years and they will then become mentors and teachers for other teachers. If you want teachers to do better, pay teachers and incentivize teachers to do better. Not every teacher gets paid the same no matter what happens.
Education in distressed communities is a totally different exercise in my opinion. A school in a poor district is not just a school. A school in a wealthy district has one set of needs. A school in a poorer district has a totally different set of needs. We want to create community schools in distressed communities, where that community school becomes the hub of all the services that that child and that family needs to survive. It's not about just providing an education; it’s about health care, nutrition, family counseling, a medical clinic. Put it all in that school and call it what it is. These are distressed communities. These are high need pupils. Let's get them the services they need. There are all sorts of successful models to follow.
Our NYSUNY 2020 is a success. Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is doing great work. We want to build on it and do a third round of NYSUNY 2020. We want to expand it to apply to the CUNY system and have a NYCUNY 2020 this year.
While education and economic opportunity are the engine, there is more to New York. There is a social compact because we are a community based on progressive principles, and we must remain that progressive capital of the nation. It's about principles, it's about fairness, it's about equality, it's about decency. Teddy Roosevelt - "No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living."
The current minimum wage is unlivable. It's only $14,616. The annual cost of gasoline is $1,200. The annual cost of electricity is $1,300. The annual cost of auto insurance is $1,400. The annual cost of groceries is $6,500. The annual cost of childcare is $10,000. The annual cost of housing is $15,000 on a minimum wage of $14,000. My friends, it does not add up. Nineteen other states have raised the minimum wage; we propose raising the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. It's the right thing to do. It's the fair thing to do. It is long overdue. We should have done it last year. Let's do it this year.
We are one New York, and as one New York we will not tolerate discrimination. There is a challenge posed by the “stop and frisk” police policies. Roughly 50,000 arrests in New York City for marijuana possession, more than any other possession. Of those 50,000 arrests, 82% are black and Hispanic. Of the 82% that are black and Hispanic, 69% are under the age of 30 years old. These are young, predominately black and Hispanic males.
These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It's not fair. It's not right. It must end. And it must end now. The problem is the disconnect because marijuana on a person is a violation, marijuana in public view is a misdemeanor. There must be parity. Decriminalize the public view with 15 grams or less so there is fairness and parity in the system and we stop stigmatizing these people, making it harder to find a job, making it harder to get into to school, making it harder to turn their lives around at a very young age.
We need to ensure fairness in the justice system. The problem is mistaken eyewitness identifications contribute to approximately 75% of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence and false confessions contributed to approximately 25% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA. Remember, this is not a numbers game for a prosecutor. It's not the more convictions the better. A wrongful conviction protects no one, and you are still innocent until proven guilty in this system. And let's make sure the system remembers that and the system provides that.
We propose innocence protections in the justice system. We propose requiring blind administering of eyewitness photo IDs and videotaped confessions for suspects in violent crimes and related offenses and sex offenses. This will give us more certainty that the convictions we obtain are actually fair and justified.
I have been working in the area of affordable housing all my life. I started when I was in my twenties. I would like to say we actually completed the task, but the truth is the exact opposite. New York still has a terrible affordable housing need that has gone unaddressed for too long. New York State is going to step into the affordable housing program business big time with a $1 billion program to produce or preserve over 14,000 units over the next five years.
New York State is the equality capital of the nation, but we still have more to do. Because as you heard from the Rabbi, not everyone has reached full equality in our society.
[VIDEO: These two babies were born in the same hospital on the same day at the same time. They will both go home to loving families and good homes. They will attend good schools, get the same grades, and earn the same degree. They will enter the same profession, but their lives will be much different. One will earn on average $11,000 less per year and $500,000 less over a lifetime. The other is 32 times more likely to become a CEO or serve on a corporate board. One is five times more likely to be sexually harassed or become a victim of domestic violence, and more than twice as likely to be a victim of housing or lending discrimination. One is twice as likely to be a single parent in poverty, and twice as likely to live out old age in poverty. Why? Because one is a girl. It's not right. It's not fair. It's time for a Women's Equality Act.]
We passed marriage equality. Let's make history again and let's pass a Women's Equality Act in the State of New York. Women's Equality Act would have a ten point agenda.
- Shatter the glass ceiling by passing a real equal pay law - treble damages for underpayment or discrimination.
- Have zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace period.
- Strengthen employment, lending, and credit discrimination laws.
- Strengthen human trafficking laws.
- End family status discrimination.
- Prevent landlords from denying housing to qualified tenants based on the source of funds, Section 8 families.
- Stop housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence.
- Stop pregnancy discrimination once and for all.
- Protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening the Order-of-Protection laws.
- Protect a woman's freedom of choice. Enact a Reproductive Health Act because it is her body, it is her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice.
I have been blessed with three daughters: Cara, Mariah, Michaela. Many of you know them. As a matter of fact, my parents blessed with 14 grandchildren, 13 girls of the 14 grandchildren.
So, the Cuomos have been significantly blessed with women, so we feel a special obligation.
Maybe it’s a man's world, but it is not a man's world in New York. Not anymore. We are going to pass this Women's Equality Act. We are going to change the lives for my daughters and your daughters and your sisters and your nieces and your wife and your significant other and every person in this room. Every person in this room. And we’re going to do it this year.
In the area of public safety - gun violence - has been on a rampage as we know firsthand and we know painfully. We must stop the madness, my friends. And in one word it is just enough. It has been enough. We need a gun policy in this state that is reasonable, that is balanced, that is measured. We respect hunters and sportsmen. This is not taking away people's guns. I own a gun. I own a Remington shotgun. I've hunted, I've shot. That's not what this is about. It is about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles. That's what this is about. We have a seven point agenda.
- Enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation period.
- Close the private sale loophole by requiring federal background checks.
- Ban high-capacity magazines.
- Enact tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns on school grounds and violent gangs.
- Keep guns from people who are mentally ill.
- Ban direct internet sales of ammunition in New York.
- Create a State NICS check on all ammunition purchases.
New York State led the way on guns once before. It was Sullivan's Law of 1911, which was the first in the nation gun control law - a model law that required a permit for possession of a handgun. New York was the first; it's still on the books. New York led the way then, let's pass safe and fair legislation and lead the way once again in saving lives.
When it comes to government reform, we all believe in government, otherwise we wouldn't be in this room today. But for government to be effective, we must be trusted and the more we're trusted the more effective we are because it's all about the relationship that we have with the citizens of this state.
We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates. New York currently has the highest contribution limits among all states, third lowest rate of participation. I want to propose the Disclose New York plan, which is very simple. It's the nation's most aggressive disclosure law period. What it says is disclose all political and lobbying contributions within 48 hours electronically period.
Right now – Right now the disclosure law says you can disclose sometimes every six months, sometimes a year, sometimes never. We would apply this to all political and lobbying organizations - PACs, 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4)s that do lobbying, political committees, political party. Any contribution within 48 hours is disclosed over $500. There is nothing like it in the country. Implement a public finance system based on New York City. It works well in New York City, it will work well in New York State. We need to lower the contribution limits for all offices, political parties, housekeeping accounts because the limits are just too high.
And government reform also has to be brought to local governments, which like the state are facing difficult financial difficulties. We propose setting up the Financial Restructuring Assistance Program, which will be a joint effort - a joint task force with the Comptroller, the Attorney General, the Division of the Budget and private sector financial restructuring consultants to help work that locality through its financial problems.
There is no one size fits all. I've been looking at a number of counties, a number of cities - they are all in different situations. Some have too much debt, some have high expenses, some have short-term cash needs. Let's bring them in individually if they're in financial distress. We'll sit with them, come up with a restructuring plan that makes sense and then we'll work with them on their restructuring plan.
Responding to the crisis. We have to do everything we've outlined above but we also have the added responsibility of needing to address Hurricane Sandy. And let's start by learning from what has happened. We empaneled four commissions right after Hurricane Sandy to look at the various aspects of the storm and lessons learned. They did extraordinary work and I'd ask us to give them a round of applause now and recognize the chairmen who worked very hard.
First thing we have to learn is to accept the fact - and I believe it is a fact - that climate change is real. It is denial to say this is - each of these situations is a once in a lifetime. There have been - there is a 100 year flood every two years now. It's inarguable that the sea is warmer and that there is a changing weather pattern, and the time to act is now. We must lower the regional greenhouse gas emission cap. And let's make a real difference on climate change by reducing the CO2 cap. We must also increase our use of local renewable power sources. We propose increasing the use of alternative power, distributed generation of electricity, which will reduce the reliance on the large power plants.
We must understand the needs of coastal communities. Because they pose special challenges and many of them are manmade. Let's take a look at lower Manhattan. This was lower Manhattan in 1609. This is lower Manhattan now, all man-made filled areas. This is lower Manhattan with the Sandy storm surge. You can see that the man-made areas are the vulnerable areas to the storm surge. It's the way they were filled; it's the way they were constructed.
We propose the Recreate NY-Smart Home Program, where rather than just rebuilding a home today - that we may very well rebuild two years from now, three years from now, four years from now - we build it back once but we build it back once right and we mitigate for the environmental damage and disaster. I'd rather pay more and put a house on high links today than rebuild that house three times.
We propose a Recreate NY-Home Buyout program. There are some places where people may choose not to build back. I've talked to home owners who have dealt with serious floods three, four, five times over the past few years. Many of them are saying I don't want to have to do it again. I'd rather buy out the parcel and move on.
There are some parcels that Mother Nature owns. She may only visit once every few years, but she owns the parcel and when she comes to visit, she visits. We want to run a program that will provide the funds to buy out those homeowners who don’t want to rebuild and want to move on to higher ground literally, and that would be smart.
We must harden our infrastructure, we must harden the New York City Subway system. Manhattan is a marvel because of how high it builds. Manhattan is a marvel also because of how deep it builds. Parts of Manhattan are 15 stories deep with infrastructure. Subway tunnels, water tunnels, electrical conduits etc. You can’t allow those 15 floors below grade to flood. It would debilitate the city for a long time. We must harden the city subway system so that flooding doesn’t occur. It’s closing tunnels. It’s closing vents. It’s roll down doors. It’s inflatable bladders. The technology is there, it’s expensive but it’s necessary.
We must harden our airports. We can’t close our airports every time there’s a storm, we need to put in submersible pumps, tide gauge et cetera. We need to harden our fuel delivery system, we saw in downstate the chaos that the fuel system caused. That was the reduction of supply for a day and a half, that’s all that was, a day and a half break in supply caused weeks of chaos. We have to have a program that requires gasoline stations that are strategically located to have backup generators, and the state should have a strategic fuel reserve to protect New Yorkers short term in case of a fuel reduction.
We must harden our utilities and really get ready for the next storm and have a PSC that’s going to require the utilities to come up with a real plan. We need to redesign our power system. We empowered the Moreland Commission, which said basically and I quote “put real regulatory enforcement teeth into the Public Service Commission, which has for too long been a toothless tiger.” When it comes to the Long Island Power Authority, it has never worked, it never will, the time has come to abolish LIPA, period. And they’re all from Queens those people. We want to privatize the Long Island service, which will be regulated by a new and empowered PSC that will happen simultaneously. And we want to do it in a way that protects the rate payers, and freezes the rate for a period of years. So there’ll be no increase to the rate payer, there’ll be a better regulator and there will be a better provider.
We want to establish a world class emergency response network. We’ll have a uniform training system and protocols run by SUNY and CUNY. We want all emergency personnel in this state to receive the same training, so we all have the same protocols, we all have the same understanding, and there are no communication issues in the midst of a crisis. We want the state to have a certification program, where it actually certifies emergency workers who went through this course. We want the state to establish a stockpile, so next crisis we have what we need, we have the generators, we have the water supply, we have the meals, and we don’t have to worry about trying to locate them in the middle of a crisis.
We want to capitalize on the New York spirit of volunteerism. We want to create a statewide volunteer corps, which will have people from all across the state who will receive light training and will be able to volunteer if a disaster hits another part of the state. We’ll also organize them by skill set. We need it on Long Island desperately, electricians and we couldn’t find them, and we were trying to find electricians from all across the state. We want to have all that work done and organized before. That’s County Executive Ed Mangano by the way carrying that heavy bucket. Thank you Ed.
We want to establish a statewide not-for-profit network to help coordinate the emergency response. We want to have a citizen education campaign to prepare citizens because they’re all in-home first responders, and every family and every mother and every father should know what happens, what should happen, if God forbid, they’re in an emergency situation in their home.
Superstorm Sandy was the largest storm to hit the northeast in recorded history. We need and we deserve federal assistance. First I want to tell you that I’ve worked extensively with our congressional delegation, and the government in Washington for New Yorkers is working the same way that the government in Albany is working for New Yorkers. We’re not Democrats, we’re not Republicans, we’re not independents. We’re not conservative, we’re not liberal. We’re New Yorkers, and we’re working together as New Yorkers for the good of New York, and that is exactly what the delegation is doing. I am so proud of them.
I’ve asked them to stand so we can recognize them: Congressman Peter King, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Jose Serrano, Congressman Paul Tonko, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, thank you for your service, thank you for your work, thank you for all your effort.
We’ve requested $60 billion of storm aid for New York and New Jersey. So far Congress has appropriated $9 billion. My friends, that is just too little and it is too late, and it has nothing to do with the way that Congress has acted in the past, this has long been established that in the face of a disaster, the national government comes in to help. Why? Because it would add insult to injury to say to the damaged area, you now have to finance your own reconstruction. The area is injured. The federal government comes in, provides reconstruction funds, the area gets back up on its feet. That’s good for the area and that’s good for the entire country.
This is an unprecedented situation in modern times, where the federal government had not been responsive in the face of a disaster. And Hurricane Sandy, after Hurricane Katrina, is one of the worst disasters in political history in this country and look at what they’ve done in the past: San Francisco earthquake 1989, they had funding 8 days later; Hurricane Andrew in Florida 30 days later; Northridge Earthquake 1994, 26 days later; Hurricane Isabel 49 days later; Hurricane Katrina 10 days later; Hurricane Gustav 7 days later. Hurricane Sandy 68 days later, they’ve appropriated the $9 billion. This is day 73 and still counting.
That is not acceptable my friends. Our message to Congress is clear: New York is united. Deliver the aid we need and deserve, do not play politics with the State of New York. Do not bring your political Washington gridlock to New York. Do not play politics while people need to be back in their homes and small businesses need money to open their door. Remember New York because New York will not forget, I promise you.
So in closing, what is the State of the State? The answer is my friends, we have work to do. Look at all the initiatives that we laid out today. You get a sense. We also have a 300 page book that we’re going to give you as a going away present to read tonight in case you missed any of them.
The agenda that we lay out today is clearly the most ambitious agenda of the three that I’ve outlined in State of the State. I would like to say it was just an ambitious government. It’s more of a function of the need of the time.
We need to do everything we’ve been doing, with the economy, with education, etc. We also need to address the plague and scourge of gun violence. We also need to address Hurricane Sandy. So yes, it is an aggressive agenda. There’s a lot of work. But they elect us to lead, my friends and we will. They elect us to perform and we will. We have proven that we can lead and we have proven that we can perform. And we know that with these challenges at hand, that’s exactly what we must now do.
We have daunting challenges, no doubt, but these challenges also pose exciting opportunities. Yes it’s hard to reform education. I know the politics of it. I know the problems. I know the issues. But can you imagine how smart this state would be? When we actually educate all our children to the best of their God given potential, when every black child and every white child and every urban child and every rural child is educated to their full potential?
I know helping the upstate economy is hard, I know it’s been decades of decline, but can you imagine how successful our economy is going to be when that upstate economic engine is running at full speed? And Utica and Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester and Albany are at their full game.
I know women have been treated unfairly for a long time. I know it’s cultural, I know it’s historic, I know it’s difficult. But can you imagine what this society could achieve when our women fully participate as equal partners in everything that we do?
I know, I know that the issue of gun control is hard, I know it’s political, I know it’s controversial. But we are proposing today common sense measures. And I say to you forget the extremists. It’s simple; no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs ten bullets to kill a deer. And too many innocent people have died already. End the madness now! Pass safe, reasonable gun control in the State of New York! Make this state safer! Save lives! Set an example for the rest of the nation! Let them look at New York and say this is what you can do and this is what you should do! This is New York, the Progressive Capital. You show them how we lead. We can do it. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.
I know, I know that the Sandy reconstruction is going to be hard. I know that we have paid a dear, dear price. I know that families are continuing to pay a dear, dear price. But I also know we have an extraordinary opportunity to not just rebuild but to build back better. We can rebuild a better society than we had. We can rebuild thousands of miles of roads. We can improve homes. We can get control of utility companies that have been out of control for too long. We can rise back from the ashes, and we can be smarter and stronger than ever.
We can modernize, and I know that there is a silver lining to this storm. And that is the way that New Yorkers came together. That in our darkest moment, we shine the brightest. That in the worst of times, the best in people came out. And there was an outpouring of support, upstate and downstate. The first responders were heroes, yes, but average citizens showed up. One after the other after the other after the other. And they were there just because they wanted to help, just because they cared, just because they loved, just because they were New Yorkers, and they saw other New Yorkers in need. And they saw the commonality amongst us and they didn’t see the differences.
We weren’t black and white and upstate and downstate and rich and poor. We were just New Yorkers. We were united, we were one. Somos uno. And there is energy in that unity. That is New York at its best, that is New York fulfilling its potential, that is New York fulfilling the dream, that is New York, the laboratory of the American experiment of democracy, that’s New York honoring the lady in the harbor.
The Statue of Liberty who holds the torch and says ‘you are all invited.’ You are all invited, and I don’t care the color of your skin and I don’t care how much money you have in your pocket. You come here and we will invest in you, and welcome you, and work with you, and we want you to do well, and we’ll educate you, and we’ll give you healthcare because we believe in community and we believe when you are raised, we are all raised. And that is New York at its finest.
So my friends, what is the state of New York State? The state of New York State is that New York State is rising. New York State is rising because it is more unified than ever before. New York State is rising to build back better and stronger than ever before. New York State is rising to build a smarter, stronger state than we’ve ever had before. New York State is rising with a passion and a commitment to make this state better than it’s ever been with a brighter future than it’s ever had for your family and for my family. And New York is rising with us together, as one committed to that vision and making it a reality this year. Thank you and God bless you.