Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision for New York is big, so big that it requires six State of the State speeches.
The governor delivered the first of six speeches Monday at One World Trade Center and touted an ambitious agenda focused on support for the middle class, while proclaiming New York a bastion of progressive governance and defender of human rights.
In giving six State of State talks, Cuomo is breaking with long-held tradition of giving the annual address to the state legislature in Albany.
“Let the great state of New York serve as a safe harbor for the progressive principles and social justice that made America,” he said during the hour-long speech. “We will hold the torch high to light the way. That is New York’s promise.”
“New York knows that our progressive principles of acceptance and diversity are not the enemy of our middle class and we know that the middle class success is not the enemy of our progressive beliefs. In fact, it was the progressive policies that created the nation’s middle class in the first place,” he said.
To stimulate the growth of a life science research center in New York, Cuomo announced a series of public-private partnerships. One includes a $17 million project called JLABS @NYC, a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson and the New York Genome Center.
Cuomo’s other key initiatives for New York City include expanding access to affordable healthcare with a $50 million investment in the Bronx’s Montefiore Health System, reforming the criminal justice system with such measures as raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, and establishing Brooklyn as a center of community health and wellness with several pilot programs.
In the realm of education and youth, the governor said he has budgeted $35 million to create 22,000 slots in after-school programs for children in the poorest neighborhoods, while increasing enrollment in high-quality, after-school programs by 36 percent.
But much of the speech was devoted to ticking off a list of accomplishments and wishes for the state and the city.
Among the most recent and dramatic is the announcement that the Indian Point nuclear power plant will be closing in four years — 14 years ahead of schedule.
Cuomo also cited his recently-announced Excelsior Scholarship, which would provide free tuition at SUNY, CUNY and community colleges. If approved by the legislature, it would benefit the 80 percent of New York households that make no more than $125,000 a year.
He heralded the recent opening of the Second Avenue Subway line on Manhattan’s East Side, and reaffirmed his commitment to improving infrastructure, maintaining Staten Island resident-pricing at the Verrazano Bridge, as well as the planned multibillion-dollar renovations at JFK and La Guardia airports.