New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his 10th State of the State address, marking the beginning of the 2020 legislative session, to push for the state to continue its history of "pragmatic progressivism."
The annual address Wednesday in Albany followed weeks of announcements by Cuomo's office of many of the priorities that he would promote.
Cuomo acknowledged challenges facing the state, including a $6 billion structural deficit and overall lack of trust in government. Included in his plan for 2020 are efforts to combat climate change, legalize recreational marijuana, battle hate crimes and more.
When it comes to climate change, he called it the “transcendent threat of our times,” one that “our children will hold us accountable for.”
“I am proposing this year an ambitious $3 billion bond act, the ‘Restore Mother Nature Bond Act,’ to be on the ballot this November to fund natural restorations and resiliency programs all across the state,” Cuomo said.
The governor also proposed cutting the tax rate for small businesses in the state from 6.5 percent to 4 percent. He suggested cutting income taxes to 6.09 percent for individuals making up to $150,000 a year and 6.41 percent for those making up to $300,000 a year.
At the same time, Cuomo wants to see more capital projects come to fruition in areas of the state such as Upstate New York. He said in this portion of the state “we need more investment in roads, bridges and mass transit.”
“Let’s redevelop Buffalo’s beautiful waterfront and re-imagine the Erie Canal,” Cuomo said. “And let’s build more new Upstate airports. … Let’s do a second round of airport renovations.”
In August 2018, Cuomo awarded Albany International Airport $92 million for renovations and new projects.
As anticipated, Cuomo proposed that New York legalize “adult use of marijuana.”
“And I propose creating the first of its kind, global cannabis and hemp research center for science and education with our State University of New York, so New York can lead the way,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo touched on additional matters of social concern, such as ending what he and others call the “pink tax” in the state by ending gender-based pricing discrimination.
The governor also said he wanted to focus on ending hate crimes. In light of recent hate crimes such as an attack inside a rabbi’s home in a New York City suburb that wounded five people, Cuomo proposed passing “the first in the nation domestic terrorism law to include ‘mass violence, motivated by hate.’” He also wants to provide additional resources to the New York State Police to “increase the capacity of the Hate Crimes Task force.”
Unlike last year, the budget presentation was not part of the address. The date for that presentation hasn't yet been announced.