On the State of the State

Governor Cuomo delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday. You can watch it here.

Here are my thoughts on it.

The good:

* Cuomo proposed creating a “New York Greenbank” to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is a great idea, but it should be expanded to include green transportation such as mass transit and operate as a green infrastructure bank as well.

* Cuomo proposed decriminalizing possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana. This is a great idea, but he should go further and fully legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes along the lines of Colorado and Washington.

*He proposed expanding the amount of time students spend in school, as a large part of the problem with American education is that our students spend a ridiculously small amount of time in class compared to other developed countries. To that end, Cuomo wants to pay school districts 100% fo the cost of extending classroom time for students. This is great.

*A number of worthy new gun-control measures:

Number 1: Enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation period.

Number 2: Close the private sale loophole by requiring federal background checks.

Number 3: Ban high-capacity magazines.

Number 4: Enact tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns on school grounds and violent gangs.

Number 5: Keep guns from people who are mentally ill.

Number 6: Ban direct internet sales of ammunition in New York.

Number 7: Create a State NICS check on all ammunition purchases.

These are all great.

*Cuomo is going to push for campaign finance reform along the model of New York City. This is also unambiguously a great idea.

*He wants to create a New York strategic fuel reserve to deal with the next time our ports are shut down by a superstorm or other phenomenon. This is a good idea, with the caveat that it should only contain gasoline and biodiesel. The problem with having conventional diesel is that if it is widely used bu generators, it will great lots of harmful pollution. Almost all diesel engines can run on biodiesel, so that would make all generators a lot cleaner, and of course gasoline can be used for cars. Likewise, the idea for a registry of emergency response volunteers listed by skill is great.

The bad:

*Cuomo wants to allow casino gambling upstate. I’m not a big fan of gambling, and as more localities legalize it, the less lucrative it becomes. If would be better to legalize online sports betting in NY- it could generate lots of gov’t revenue and not have casinos blighting our state.

*Cuomo’s proposals to support solar energy are ok, but why doesn’t he just add a solar-energy portfolio standard? To clarify, Solar is one of several different renewal energy sources that coun’t towards the state’s overall renewable energy portfolio standard, but there is no minimum amount mandated for solar specifically. This has been wildly successful in neighboring New Jersey and would be great for NY.

*Cuomo’s idea for “innovation hotspots,” is errily reminiscent of the failed “Empire Zone” program. It’s better for economic development to just cut tax rates everywhere in the state instead of in a few specific zones.

*Cuomo wants to abolish the Long Island Power Authority. LIPA isn’t perfect, but it is much better than the status quo that preceded it. LIPA should remain in existence.


This speech was big on mostly progressive ideas, and Cuomo is clearly now realizing he has to come back to the left if he wants any chance competing in the 2016 Democratic primary. He may have already burned those bridges with his opposition to the millionaire’s tax and his tolerance of the Independent Democratic caucus, but to the extent he now wants to reinvent himself as a liberal, that is welcomed.


  1. Betsy Malcolm says:

    Did you notice that fracking was not mentioned in the speech? I am afraid that this speech was a big kiss to the left but that the actions will prove otherwise. It is quite clear that Cuomo wants to frack NY and also has a history of citing liberal goals in speeches like this with no follow-through. If we see the moratorium on fracking continued until New Yorkers’ health and safety can be credibly assured, an increase in the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, serious gun control, and the next step on the weak redistricting reform that got through the last session, then maybe I will feel reassured. I will be convinced by actions, not words.

  2. Alan says:

    Promises, as with all political leaders, are easy and evocative. Keeping them is often another story, often not due to opposition, but to financial-lobbying pressures and a lack of genuine political will.

    As a Californian, supporting progressive efforts and ACT, thanks for an interesting update on the issues that are current in NY. I too, worry about fracking – long-term. Are there any indications of the impact of it beyond the immediate benefits of domestic energy production?

  3. Rich Boatti says:

    It was disappointing to see fracking not mentioned. Alan, one of the biggest problems with fracking, beyond all the groundwater contamination, is that this glut of cheap natural gas is undermining the price-competitiveness of renewable energy, further delaying the permanent switch away from fossil fuels.

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