Governor Andrew Cuomo does not lack ideas for New York State. In fact, he’s got a 300-plus page book full of them.
During his State of the State address this afternoon, Cuomo laid out his agenda for the next year. He listed off new initiatives for economic development, incentives for state school districts to extend the time children spend in the classroom, and called for women’s equality legislation. He also made a forceful push for the Legislature to raise the minimum wage. And in no uncertain terms he said he wants the state to enact the strictest assault weapons ban in the country.
His speech included passionate bursts, underscoring the issues about which he feels strongest. As he elaborated on the 10 points — everything from equal pay laws to laws banning housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence — he wants covered in the Women’s Equality Act, his voice began rising. And as he called for the Legislature to enact a law guaranteeing reproductive rights, he was essentially yelling.
“It’s her body, it’s her choice,” he said, twice repeating himself.
His emotion peaked again at the end of the speech. As he reiterated his call for new gun laws, he said New York can lead the nation on common-sense reforms. (It’s worth noting that Cuomo didn’t specify what criteria the ban would use to define assault weapons, but he also called for a stricter ban on high-capacity magazines.)
“Forget the extremists,” he said. “It’s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle.”
During his speech, Cuomo also:
· Directly acknowledged that climate change is real. And he called for a lower — stricter — cap on power plant carbon emissions via a Northeast region cap-and-trade program. He proposed new programs and incentives for renewable energy.
· Called for campaign-finance reform. Cuomo said he wants a package that lowers contribution limits and requires prompt disclosure of all political spending in the state. He said he wants a public financing system modeled on New York City’s.
· Proposed creating “innovation hot spots.” The centers would be high-tech incubators serving as one-stop-shops for tech startups. They’d include legal and accounting services and funding assistance. And they’d also be tax-free zones.
· Advanced the idea of a bar-exam style test for teachers, which was a recommendation from his New NY Education Reform Commission. He offered little detail on that proposal.
· Proposed locating up to three casinos Upstate. The idea is to get people, including downstaters, to visit Upstate.
· Called for decriminalizing marijuana. He said he’ll propose a law that makes possessing 15 grams or less of marijuana in open view a violation.
The governor did not make any mention of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).