The big questions heading into Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address weren't about what he was going to propose; he'd laid out most of his plans over the past week and a half. Rather, legislators questioned how Cuomo would pay for it all, and media types speculated on the speech's tone.
Much of the speech was matter of fact; Cuomo checked off each of the 2015 Opportunity Agenda proposals he'd already rolled out, including infrastructure investments, small business tax cuts, a property tax credit program, a student loan forgiveness program, the Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force, and global trade missions, including a planned trip to Cuba. Cuomo also proposed a slew of education reforms.
Cuomo spent only a brief moment explaining how it all figures into the 2015-2016 budget
, which will have a total spending increase of 1.7 percent he said. Some of the programs will be funded using money from $5.4 billion in bank settlements; $3 billion from those settlements will go to infrastructure and some investment programs under Cuomo's plan. The budget includes a potential 4.8 percent school aid increase and a 3.6 percent Medicaid increase, he said, but state agency spending is rising by less than 1 percent.
The governor only broke from his just-the-facts approach at the end. New York has always been a leader among the states, he said. It led on freedom of religion, on emancipation, on reforms that improved housing conditions, and on property rights for women.
State government is guided by the "power of we" and a statewide belief in community, he said. He drew a distinction between the gridlock in Congress and the ability of New York's state government to work toward common goals.
"When one of us is raised, we all are raised," Cuomo said. "When one of us is lowered, we are all lowered."
The governor's office has compiled news releases
on the Opportunity Agenda.
Senator Rich Funke gave the Republican response to Cuomo's State of the State address. Below is a video of that response.