Declaring New York at a crucial crossroads, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday outlined during his first State of the State Address an action plan to fundamentally transform New York State’s government and economy by getting the state’s fiscal house in order, radically redesigning our governmental structures and operations, and restoring integrity and performance to state government.
Shortly after his address – or even during, as it was broadcast live via web – our Evening Sun email boxes were filled with responses from various elected representatives and state officials. Here’s a sampling of their reactions.
Senator James Seward (R/C/I - Oneonta)
“The governor’s state of the state message was a slam dunk. Styled more like an upbeat high school pep rally than a monotonous political speech, he hit on all the right themes and seemed to energize legislators and all New Yorkers on hand.
“The message of fiscal responsibility rang through and is one I have been promoting for some time. The state has been spending too much, and needs to cut back through the use of a hard spending cap, Medicaid reform, and state agency consolidations.
“I also applaud the governor’s call for private sector job growth. In order to resurrect our state’s economy we must put people back to work, and ensure that our young people can find a job here at home.
Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch (R/I - Guilford)
“After listening to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address, I am encouraged that we share common ground as we go forward to face a state budget deficit of over $9 billion and many other growing challenges. Tough choices will have to be made, but based on some of the governor’s first actions we can already see a good start toward positive change in Albany. Many of the governor’s ideas – capping property taxes, creating jobs, cutting government waste, and changing the way Albany leaders operate and run state government – are areas of common interest that I have been advocating for since being elected. As part of this new cooperation, the Leader of the Assembly Republican Conference, Brian M. Kolb (R/C/I - Canandaigua), recently reached out to Governor Cuomo and extended the invitation that we are willing to partner with him to accomplish our mutual agendas. To that end, I am looking forward to working with Governor Cuomo to resolve these challenges and ensure a firm foundation and fresh outlook for New York’s future.”
William J. Ryan, President of the NYS Association of Counties
“Governor Cuomo is correct in saying New York State is at a crossroads. After decades of over-spending, over-taxing, over-regulating and over-mandating, the State is facing a $10 billion deficit and must now make very difficult decisions.
“Counties, which deliver and fund Medicaid and other State health and human service mandates that cost county property taxpayers $4 billion a year, support cuts in spending and increased local flexibility that would result in lower property tax bills.
“We applaud the creation of two committees designed to reform State mandates. After all, currently 9 state mandates consume 90 percent of the county property tax levy Statewide.”
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
“As I’ve pointed out for years, New York is facing great budget and fiscal challenges. Bad times call for bold action, and I welcome Governor Cuomo’s forceful leadership.
“The old way of doing business has to become just that; it’s time for a new direction. The state is facing a budget deficit of up to $10.5 billion. The state has to end irresponsible fiscal gimmicks and overspending. New Yorkers have been tightening their belts and adjusting to the economic realities we all face. New York’s government has to do the same.”
Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau
“Governor Cuomo’s property tax cap plan is a much needed New Year’s resolution for New York State farmers. Because of our land holdings, property taxes are killing us. We love the governor’s plan to cap taxes at two percent. Also, we love the cap because it’s coupled with a recognition that long term restructuring is needed to Medicaid, government consolidation and education reform.
“Equally exciting is his mandate relief program, which will help shrink the massive tax burden local municipalities are forced to levy against its residents and businesses. The governor made it clear today, as he did throughout his campaign last fall, that agriculture will be a central factor in his effort to revitalize the economy.”
Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York
“Fixing our government isn’t easy, but our leaders in New York have been making excuses for too long. The solution to putting our government back in the hands of the people, ending government corruption, and restoring trust is through a system of public financing of elections.
“Governor Cuomo made it clear today that New York needs public financing of elections so ordinary New Yorkers can once again play an active role in our democracy. Without public funding of elections, the public will continue to be shut out of state government - while the corporate lobbyists call the shots. We’re proud to work alongside our new Governor to make sure public financing of elections is enacted in 2011, and we commend him for making it a priority.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
“After listening to Governor Cuomo’s inaugural speech – I anticipate that his State of the State address is going to be a realistic and tough message of cuts, restraint and sacrifice. But it’s a message that everyone needs to hear because the end result of our efforts will be a new hope that we can turn New York around and restore the people’s faith in those elected to serve them. The fiscal crisis we face is an opportunity for dramatic action to change the way New York has budgeted in the past and actually reduce spending and taxes.”
Mike Elmendorf, State Director of National Federation of Independent Business
“Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a strong and compelling message of fiscal responsibility and reality in his first State of the State Message; one we hope both houses of the Legislature received loud and clear. Given the perilous state of our state, the Governor’s bold fiscal reform agenda is both right and necessary.
“The Governor’s common-sense agenda includes several measures small business has long strongly supported--including a property tax cap and state spending cap. We also commend Governor Cuomo for standing with small business through his continued opposition to additional tax and fee increases--including his call for an end to the so-called ‘Millionaire’s Tax,’ which increased taxes on many small businesses in New York.”
Daniel Sisto, Healthcare Association of New York State President
“We all understand New York is facing a very difficult financial challenge and we are encouraged by the Governor’s willingness to work with HANYS and other Medicaid stakeholders. We agree that a fundamental restructuring of the program is overdue and that better coordination of care for individuals with complex needs can produce both savings and better care.
“The Governor said ‘the planets have aligned,’ providing an opportunity to address longstanding, fundamental problems. We agree very much with that assessment and urge him to resist the past practice of damaging across-the-board Medicaid cuts, and instead institute reforms that address the real issues. For too long, short-term solutions have been pursued that were designed simply to hit budget targets, while doing nothing to fix these core problems. We are hopeful that Governor Cuomo has ushered in an era where we can now focus on necessary long-term strategies that will yield a more sustainable and more effective system.”
Michael Lovenheim, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University
“The governor’s speech was lacking in detail about how a property tax cap would work, but it sounds like the plan is going to combine a property tax cap with mandate reform to reduce the financial burden of the cap on local governments.
“While better than a pure tax cap without a revenue offset, it is unclear why the state does not simply enact mandate reform and let localities choose their own property taxes. If it is indeed the case that our property taxes are so high due to these mandates, then cutting them would lead to lower taxes without the distortion of state caps.”