New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo Unveils his 2019 Justice Agenda

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Governor Cuomo, in a speech hosted by the Roosevelt Institute, urged the legislature to act in the first 100 days of the next year, on the following agenda:

  1. Ensure a Progressive Tax System:While the federal government prioritizes tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, Governor Cuomo believes in a just, progressive tax system that taxes its citizens based on their ability to pay. The Governor will maintain the state’s progressive income tax with a millionaire’s tax, while permanently capping regressive local property taxes at 2%.
  2. Cut Middle Class Taxes while Fighting to repeal SALT: The federal government’s cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions was a devastating and targeted assault on New York that has increased taxes on New Yorkers and reduced home values. Governor Cuomo will continue to lead the fight to repeal the cap on SALT while in New York continuing tax cuts for middle class families.
  3. Protect Quality, Affordable Health Care: While the federal government and radical judges continue to roll back the Affordable Care Act and tear away health care from millions of Americans, Governor Cuomo will take action to make sure New Yorkers are protected. The Governor will work to codify the health exchange into law and pass a law to ensure pre-existing conditions continue to be covered by insurance companies regardless of what happens at the federal level.
  4. Codify Reproductive Rights:In the face of the federal assault on women’s reproductive rights, including a Supreme Court that threatens to roll back Roe v. Wade, Governor Cuomo will fight to pass the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act within the first 30 days of the new session. Note: Codification embeds these rights in the State Constitution.
  5. Enshrine Gender Equality into Law: Nearly a century after it was first proposed, New York State has still not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex in our State constitution. To right this decades-old wrong, Governor Cuomo will push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class.
  6. Combat Gun Violence: 2018 was by far the worst year for school shootings in American history. To once again lead the nation on gun safety, Governor Cuomo will push to pass the Red Flag Law, ban bump stocks and extend the waiting period for purchasing a gun from three days to 10 days.
  7. Launch a $150 Billion Infrastructure Plan: While the federal government fails to make progress on an infrastructure plan, Governor Cuomo will expand on New York’s nation-leading $100 billion infrastructure plan — building new airports, bridges and train stations all across the state — by investing an additional $150 billion in our infrastructure that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  8. Fund and Restructure the MTA While Easing Traffic in New York City’s Business District: After decades of neglect and diffused responsibility, the MTA is in dire need of funding and reorganization. Governor Cuomo will fix the MTA by passing congestion pricing and overhauling the outdated structure of the authority in order to build a reliable, state of the art mass transit system with a steady funding stream and a structure that supports operational excellence.
  9. Ensure Education Equity: After requiring data on how local schools distribute funds in last year’s budget, it’s clear that poorer schools too often do not receive an equitable share of funding from their school districts. Governor Cuomo will fight for an education system where districts distribute funding based on need and fairness to ensure that every child receives a quality education.
  10. Pass the Dream Act: While the federal government has declared war on new immigrants, New York is standing up for our immigrant communities. This year, New York will pass the Dream Act once and for all to ensure a higher education system that opens the door of opportunity to all of our children.
  11. Launch the Green New Deal: A call to (1) legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and (2) make New York 100% carbon free by 2040 putting the state on the path to eliminating its carbon footprint.
  12. Ban corporate contribution in political campaigns: I intend, as already deemed in federal law, to close loopholes’ that let individuals magnify their donations by using multiple limited liability companies.

The Governor’s Summation: “Let this agenda be New York’s Declaration of Independence. We declare independence from this federal government’s policies. We disconnect from the nationalism, and the racism, and the chaos, and the xenophobia, and the misogyny, and the discrimination, and the dissembling of this Washington administration, we proclaim our Federal Government’s policy not only regressive, not only repugnant to New York values, we declare it un-American. Let us pass this ambitious progressive agenda as New York’s restoration of true democracy, restoring fairness, progress and pride.” Let us be inspired by FDR’s 1933 New Deal and do it in the first 100 days.

My Assessment: The governor ’s closing remarks are startling to say the least. We need to “declare independence from ‘this’ federal government’s policies” i.e. xenophobia – racial intolerance, misogyny – mistrust of women etc. doesn’t even qualify as political bombast. His answer, his platform, a 100-day recital of “Happy Days Are Here Again” debuted at the 1932 Democratic Convention.

What’s lacking! Any mention of the need to address systemic political corruption in state politics, spending that is one cause of our taxes being the 2nd highest in the nation, waste and inefficiency in government, serious gun control, and, last but not least debt that is close to exceeding statuary limitations. Note: His presentation does mention banning bump stocks and extending the waiting period to purchase a gun from 3 to 10 days. Over critical? Hardly, let’s look under the hood of his 12-point plan.

     A – Ensure a Progressive Tax System. 

The following from the WSJ is relevant. “Gov. Cuomo’s third term will be a fascinating study in political calibration. He once fashioned himself as a centrist ridiculing Mayor Bill DeBlasio for proposing a millionaire’s tax to fund subway repairs. But as he prepares to run for President in 2020, he recently promised to extend the state’s current surtax on millionaires that he once opposed.” The federal government favoring the wealthy is wrong, I’m right, I need their money.

His second remark to permanently cap local property taxes, is a plus for property owners, a minus for educators. Carl Korn, a spokesman for the New York State United Teachers union, said “The tax cap is arbitrary and undemocratic. It unfairly limits the ability of local communities to decide for themselves how much to invest in their own local schools.”

     B   Cutting Middle Class Taxes.

Strictly a rant by the governor. It’s mention, is all about President Trump, nothing more or less.

     C   Codifying Reproductive Rights, Enshrining, Ensuring Gender & Education Equality

His verbiage leads the reader to believe that there is a desperate need to further protect the rights of women, minorities, gay’s, immigrants, students etc. from perceived abuses tolerated under current law. He is marketing a liberal agenda that will only further stir the current pot of political discontent.

      D   Launch a $150 billion Infrastructure Plan. 

The governor has leaned on this initiative repeatedly over the past two years, never mentioning how the improvements are being paid for. Unless money grows on trees, a time-out needs to be called.

      E   Protect Quality, Affordable Care Act.

While I agree with the need to ensure on going benefits, I do not believe changes     in state law can be made that will supersede the Federal Legislation, as written.

       F   Ban Limited Liability Corporate LLC “loopholes” in political campaigns.

Interesting. On January 21, 2010, in an historic case called Citizen United v. the Federal Elections Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by non-profit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations. Key word “expenditures.”

As a result, long established LLC’s have since assumed the persona of a corporation blasting through campaign finance limits without a clue who the contributor might be. Why he wants to close the loophole down when his coffers are loaded with such contributions is not easily explainable. Any reversal of the court decision is unlikely, lessening its value as a planning agenda item.

      G  Pass the Dream Act.

Last July, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Dream Act of 2017 that would provide a direct road to U.S. citizenship for people who are either undocumented, and/or have DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) temporary protected status. Obviously these four individuals have not, as the governor stated, “declared war on new immigrants.” From a compassionate viewpoint, grand. For a practical viewpoint impractible and improbable. The governors mention that its passage ensure a higher education system is not relevant. He knows better and is just pandering.

       H   Fund and Restructure the MTA & Ease Traffic in NYC’s Business District 

The governor admits to years of neglect. Interesting considering the fact that he controls the MTA board nominating process, appoints its chairman and CEO, and controls six of 14 votes. Easing traffic? It will take more than congestive pricing to accomplish any meaningful. He knows better.

       I     Launch the Green New Deal   

The “green’ he has in mind is a call to legalize recreational marijuana. Before jumping into the deep end of an empty pool, consider the following five findings from a report just issued by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice on the 5th anniversary of approval.

  1. The most troubling trend, incidences of “driving while high.”
  2. High levels of THC present in “edible” marijuana “a danger to children.”
  3. Usage the most common reason for school expulsions.
  4. Illegal growth of plants flooding the market a serious concern.
  5. Young adults (ages 18-25) are most frequently hospitalized for exposure.

Serious, you-bet-cha. Let’s not go down this path, at the expense of many for the benefit of few. Additional details are available using:

In closing: Again, from the WSJ, “Democrats, in New York received a mixed blessing in November when they seized complete control of state government for the first time in 50 years. They are now responsible for fixing the dysfunctions of liberal governance” under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Hopefully, this column will serve as a beacon. 100 days and counting.







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