Reaction to Cuomo’s State of the State address

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2021 at 9:04 pm

‘NY has had a tax-and-spend problem and population exodus way before this virus hit it.’ – Assemblyman Michael Norris

Photo from Governor’s Office: Andrew Cuomo delivers his 11th State of the State Address today in Albany.

State legislators and organizations have issued statements to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address. Here are some of the responses:

Bob Duffy, CEO and president of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and former lieutenant governor:

“It has been a long and challenging 11 months for the Finger Lakes region, and yet as the Governor alluded, the fight is not over. We need to conquer COVID-19 and reopen our businesses. We need to address inequities and disparities to ensure safety and opportunity for all. We need to revive and reinvigorate our economy.

“Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce supports the Governor’s ‘Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew’ agenda and its proposals to address the critical issues facing New York, create new opportunities for employment and revenue, and safely reopen and reenergize our regional economy.

“We agree with the Governor that this is a critical time for New York State and the Finger Lakes region to learn and grow from the challenges that we have faced, and take strategic action to prepare for what the future might hold. We look forward to working with the Governor and his team in the coming year to jumpstart New York’s economic resurgence, and create a safer, more just state.”

Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York State Conference of Mayors:

“New York’s cities and villages are suffering through tremendous fiscal pain caused solely by the Covid-induced economic slowdown. NYCOM is happy to hear Governor Cuomo’s call in his State of the State address for additional transportation infrastructure funding and increased efforts to avoid urban decline.

“We also fully support his oft-stated belief that the federal government should not shift its burdens down to local and state governments. Nor, may we add, should state governments push their problems onto the government closest to the people. Therefore, we call on the Governor to release the more than $250 million in municipal aid the Division of Budget has withheld from aid payments included in the 2020-21 state budget. Only by working together will New York State and its local governments be able to crush Covid and renew our economy.”

David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau president:

“New York faces daunting health and economic challenges, many created by the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to impact our rural communities, farm families and employees. Governor Cuomo’s State of the State overview address highlighted many needs including vaccinating our population quickly and effectively while also being creative in boosting our economy.

“Investment in infrastructure and affordable rural broadband are important steps. We also look forward to hearing more from the Governor in the coming days on his plans for green energy, economic development and support of our local food system that was affected greatly this past year. Our farm communities play a valuable role in strengthening this state, and New York Farm Bureau looks forward to working together with the Governor to move New York forward.”

Robert Schneider, New York State School Boards Association executive director:

“We look forward to hearing more about Gov. Cuomo’s proposals for public education in 2021, but we are heartened by his commitment to achieving educational equity in New York. The coronavirus pandemic has furthered the digital divide and exacerbated existing inequities. The governor’s proposed investment to make broadband more affordable is a critical step. With proper funding, schools may be able to provide laptops and tablets for students, but if students don’t have reliable access to the Internet, these devices are of little value.

“It will be important, however, that any plan for bringing more support and opportunities to the state’s most vulnerable students does not drain resources from other students, who also need and deserve our support and encouragement to pursue bright futures.

“The governor is right to emphasize the federal role in helping New York students recover and thrive in the wake of this pandemic and the economic hardships it has provoked. NYSSBA stands ready to work with our state leaders to ensure that all of our schools receive adequate financial support for their recovery, for the sake of all of our students.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia:

“Today during the State of the State the governor talked a lot about his solutions, his ideas, and how he knew better than anybody else the pain New Yorkers have endured. The response was characteristic of the governor’s handling of this pandemic, as he’s now for months clung onto his emergency powers while everyday New Yorkers have been left voiceless as their communities wither. This pandemic is too great a challenge for one man to take on alone, and the people of our state deserve to have their concerns brought to light by the representatives they elected to do so.”

Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport:

“Here are the real facts before Covid-19 even existed: New York has led the nation in population loss, with over one million people leaving over the past decade for greener pastures, our debt is second in the nation only to California, and our state budget with mounting deficits every year continues to be larger than states like Florida and Texas.

“Now with the COVID-19 crisis, the state faces a $15 billion deficit, small businesses and restaurants have been forced to shut down due to no fault of their own, thousands of workers are unemployed and employers struggling to survive, and many parents are attempting to educate their children from home with no access to broadband.

“Covid-19 has shaken our state and its economy, but New York has had a tax-and-spend problem and population exodus way before this virus hit it. There is no question that the virus has pushed New York even closer to the brink.

“We don’t need any more talk. We need action. We need to get our restaurants and small businesses currently restricted or closed opened safely and provide them real relief to recover. We need to ensure the allocated vaccinations are being distributed promptly. We need broadband access available at every home, business and farm, now. Lastly, we need to be bold and reimagine how we operate this state’s finances so hardworking taxpayers and families are no longer forced to leave because of high taxes and burdensome state regulations.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, Minority Leader in Senate

“I’m glad to see the Governor is focused on reopening the economy. We’ll see what that looks like. There wasn’t a lot of details to a lot of the proposals.”

“He failed to recognize we had a $6 billion deficit before the pandemic. He talked about the $15 billion and all these other issues, but there was no real mention of the $6 billion hole that we were in absent of the pandemic. I think that is important to take into account and how we are going to address that.”

Will Barclay, State Assembly Minority Leader from Pulaski:

“This year’s State of the State Address should have been a moment focused on New York’s recovery, with specific plans, details and optimism that 19.5 million New Yorkers have been waiting for. While we’re told additional information will be forthcoming, we hope to receive more substance than a compilation of previous briefings and additional finger-pointing at Washington, D.C.

“Fortunately, Gov. Cuomo acknowledged the need for fiscal recovery and greater commitment to infrastructure, improving broadband access and reinforcing the state’s health care preparedness. Certainly, I agree with him on these goals. But he presented far too little on help for small businesses, direct assistance to families, future logistics on state’s slow vaccination roll-out or how he plans to address New York’s mounting debt and precarious budget deficit.

“The governor has chosen to provide three more presentations this week, and I look forward to future proposals containing more substage than we heard today. After all they endured in 2020, New Yorkers don’t need more words from their elected officials — they need immediate action.”

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli:

“Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State message outlined a strong agenda for New York as we navigate through unprecedented challenges. I commend the Governor for his emphasis on beating the Covid-19 pandemic and on improving public health.

“The Governor properly underscored the urgency of federal assistance to address the economic and revenue damage New York has suffered. In the coming days, I look forward to hearing his proposals on other key issues, including racial equality, criminal justice reform and improving the election process.”