NY Gov. Cuomo State of The State addresses his reform agenda for a new term

Posted by on January 25, 2015
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivering his State of the State address.

 

ALBANY, N. Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday combined with his budget proposal focusing heavily on tougher education improvement reforms as well as criminal justice that is seen as easy to address but harder to solve as a whole. Much of the reforms proposed by the governor will be encountered by a divided legislature of Republican control of the Senate while an assembly is dominated by Democrats.

The governor’s 90 minute rushed speech with the reliance of PowerPoint slides to emphasize his policy priorities, was delivered in the Capitol of New York that had no surprises, as much of the addressed proposal was leaked during many news conferences prior to the address this month. Combination of the budget proposal and reforms overall calls for the spending plan totaling $150 billion, an increase of 5 percent from previous years with mixed reviews on both sides of education reform and criminal justice reform.

On education, Cuomo wants to overhaul teacher evaluation formula by increasing tenure to five years straight of high marks instead of three years as well as making it easier to fire ineffective teachers. Reforming the 3020-A of teacher’s removal, something Cuomo has been trying to push will face push backs from many democrats in the assembly as well as the teachers union.

The current formula found that only 1 percent of teachers are to be ineffective as only 38 percent of high school students are ready for college. Calling the evaluation “baloney”, Cuomo wants 50 percent of teacher evaluations to be based on standardized tests. He’s also calling for a 50 percent measure of an independent evaluator to observe the performance of teacher’s performance in a classroom.

On charter schools, Cuomo touted a proposal of increase funding of the number of cap allowed to 560 from 460, an increase of 100 as well as remove restrictions to charter sites where New York City is reaching its limit of reservation sites. The governor has also proposed $25 million funding into universal Pre-K programs to continue on in order to prevent increasing taxes. Last year, a feud over funding this program began with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initiated increasing taxes as Governor Cuomo promised not to increase any, especially during his re-election bid.

The DREAM Act, a legislation that failed to pass last year was brought into the proposal. Cuomo’s budget includes providing tuition assistance to illegal immigrants as well as education tax credits for individuals and corporations. The proposed measures will be linked together forcing state lawmakers to take on both measures or none as democrats are opposed to the education tax credit for corporations, while Republicans are opposed to the Dream Act.

Expectations to bring reforms to criminal justice in the wake of the controversy over the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, Cuomo’s laid out a seven point agenda on reforming the criminal justice system. With only a small mention of this reform lacking specific details in his speech, both sides of the ongoing tension believe the agenda proposed isn’t enough. A proposal such as giving district attorney the power to release information of grand jury decision despite an indictment or not can give “people to know what actually happened” Cuomo stated. Instituting an independent monitor in cases of fatal episodes between police and civilians as well as recommended a special prosecutor to oversee such cases is told by the governor to help improve the system and confidence to “restore trust and respect between police and community.”

Police reform activists believes this isn’t enough and accountability is still lacking as they want the governor to do more to hold police accountable. Police unions on the other hand, believe that adding new equipment such as new bulletproof vests as well as bulletproof patrol car windows to help protect officers will not ease the tensions concerning police officers. “The tools to be horse-traded for criminal justice reforms designed to disrupt law enforcement due process rights.” said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.

Cuomo’s closing remarks were a national tone that ended with an emotional tone from his passing father, Governor Mario Cuomo’s famous 1984 Democratic National Convention speech as well as the late governor’s 1983 first inaugural address: Don’t let me forget what makes New York, New York.”


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Mona Salama

Social Media Director / Journalist at ANM News
Mona Salama is a journalist and Social Media Director for ANM News. A young Republican by way of New York City, Mona is a Grad Student studying Public Policy and Administration at John Jay College. A self-described “girl who loves politics”, Mona is also as a political consultant and operative in NYC. She is well versed in field operations and strategies, working for numerous campaigns in the past four years.