BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York

Transcript of Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State Address

January 14th, 2016

For a full transcript of the address, click HERE

2017 Executive Budget Plan

January 14th, 2016

To see Governor Cuomo’s FY 2017 Executive Budget please follow the link below

Cuomo unveils $145.3 billion budget plan during State of the State

January 14th, 2016

Several of the initiatives including raising the minimum wage and investing in infrastructure had already been unveiled

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $145.3 billion budget proposal unveiled Wednesday proposes spending the state’s $2.3 billion windfall from court settlements to house the poor and homeless, freeze Thruway tolls and make large investments in public infrastructure.

In his annual State of the State address, the Democratic governor also called for raising the minimum wage to $15, cutting small-business taxes and boosting the environmental protection fund.

Many of the proposals detailed Wednesday had already been rolled out by Cuomo in the past two weeks in a series of appearances around the state.

Cuomo again called for gradually raising the current $9 minimum wage to $15, an increase that would be phased in in New York City in 2019 and the rest of the state on July 1, 2021.

“We can show this nation what real economic justice means,” Cuomo told the audience. “We won’t stop until we get it done.”

Business groups and Republican lawmakers have voiced concerns that such a significant increase would force businesses to raise prices and cut positions.

Cuomo referenced the death of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, in calling for a paid family leave law that would allow workers to take paid-time off to care for an ailing loved one or new child.

“I have kicked myself every day that I didn’t spend more time with my father,” Cuomo said. “There are many people in this state who don’t have the choice. Parent is dying. Child is sick. They can’t take off work.”

On the issue of homelessness, Cuomo is proposing $20 billion for new affordable housing and additional shelter beds. He also called for an audit of homeless shelters; those found unsafe would be required to add police protection. Otherwise, Cuomo said, they would be closed or taken over by a receiver.

“We will not allow people to dwell in the gutter like garbage,” Cuomo said.

The governor’s budget further details long-term plans to revamp Penn Station and expand the Javits convention center in Manhattan, add a third rail line for the Long Island Rail Road, redesign 30 New York City subway stations, revitalize upstate airports and spend $22 billion on highways and bridges.

Tolls on the Thruway and the Tappan Zee Bridge would be frozen until 2020, and drivers who spend at least $50 annually on Thruway tolls could get a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the tolls paid.

Other proposals include pardons for young offenders who don’t commit new crimes and adding college courses in prisons. The governor also wants to end the state’s prohibition on professional mixed-martial arts bouts.

The budget would increase public school spending by $1 billion to $24.2 billion. The state Regents had called for $2.4 billion more in school aid. Advocates want even more.

To boost the economy Cuomo recommends cutting the income tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to as little as 4 percent effective next year. Cuts would apply to businesses with less than 100 employees and net income below $390,000.

Minutes after Cuomo began the annual speech before an audience of several hundred people, Assemblyman Charles Barron stood up and began yelling over the governor. Cuomo tried to quiet him, telling Barron, “Everybody heard you; everybody saw you.”

After a few tense moments, Barron left the convention hall. He told reporters that he believes Cuomo is ignoring the needs of poor New Yorkers and should propose at least $2 billion more for education, particularly for high-need schools.

Cuomo met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ahead of the speech. The two men have had a contentious relationship, most recently centered on homelessness. Cuomo’s administration has faulted the mayor for not doing enough, but on Wednesday Cuomo thanked the mayor for assisting on the administration’s plan.

“The governor and I talked for about a half hour,” de Blasio told reporters outside Cuomo’s office. “It was a productive conversation.”

The court settlements Cuomo wants to divert to homelessness and other programs came from settlements with financial institutions investigated for violating trading sanctions and mishandling home mortgage-related securities and foreclosures.

Following a wave of corruption scandals in the Legislature, Cuomo is calling for tight limits on lawmakers’ outside income. His plan, modeled after restrictions placed on members of Congress, would restrict a lawmaker’s outside income to 15 percent of the legislature salary, currently $79,500. The governor also wants to close the so-called LLC loophole, which allows limited liability corporations to skirt campaign finance limits.

A year ago, Cuomo proposed a $141.6 billion budget for the current fiscal year, which ends March 31.


Message from the GNYCC President Mark Jaffe on the State of the State

January 14th, 2016

At yesterday’s State of the State, Governor Cuomo reminded us of how great the State of New York is. We applaud the infrastructure programs which will continue to help generate the building & construction trades, create jobs and speed commerce in the Empire State. We look forward to the use of tax credits that will stimulate the economy and continue to build a budgetary surplus for NY state. Most important, we look forward to the economic stimulus that will result from the increased spending that will surely come with minimum wage increases.


NYSUT statement on Gov. Cuomo’s executive budget proposal and State of the State address

January 14th, 2016



ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 13, 2016 — “The governor’s State of the State message is a starting point that sets a positive tone for public education. We appreciate the respect voiced for educators and the hard work they do every day on behalf of New York’s students. We are committed to having the constructive conversations needed to advance public education.

“The governor’s K-12 state aid proposal begins the essential discussions that must take place about what’s needed to provide every student with a quality public education in the wake of the tax cap. The education tax credit proposal remains problematic. And, of course, we must press to fully fund SUNY, CUNY and the community colleges.

“As we have the opportunity to review details in the days ahead, we look forward to working constructively with the Legislature and the governor to advance public education, from pre-school through post-graduate.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

For more information, contact:

NYSUT Media Relations

(518) 213-6000, ext. 6313



Cuomo embraces a sharply different education agenda this year

January 14th, 2016

uft logo


Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State and budget address on Jan. 13, vowed to transform every failing school into a community school, bring universal pre-kindergarten “to 100 percent of our communities” and proposed a $200 tax credit for teachers who spend their own money on school supplies.

“Teachers deserve our support and encouragement,” he said. He called for a $2.1 billion increase in state school aid over a two-year period, including nearly $1 billion for the coming school year.

It was a far cry from last year, when in a more combative tone he tied $1.1 billion in additional state education aid to individual merit pay, more charter schools, punishing struggling schools, and making teacher evaluation hinge on state test scores.

Although Cuomo still voiced support for charter schools, it did not dominate his discussion of education solutions. Many of his proposals, such as community schools and universal pre-K, have been championed by the UFT and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We’ve come a long way from last year,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We still have some differences and issues to work on, but as far as teachers are concerned, there was a lot to like in the governor’s speech.”

In promoting community schools, Cuomo spoke of the challenges facing students in poor communities — poverty, one-parent households and nutrition needs, in addition to crime and violence. It was a litany familiar to the UFT, which took the lead in opening community schools in New York City.

“Let’s invest in the right problem early on so we’re not paying for problems later on,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo called for renewing mayor control over New York City schools for three more years. Last year, the governor advocated a three-year renewal as well, but the state Legislature ultimately granted Mayor Bill de Blasio only a one-year extension.

While the governor did not mention it in his address, the briefing book that accompanies the governor’s State of the State address indicated that the governor is calling for a $150 million education tax credit. The tax credit proposal, which would give huge tax breaks to wealthy donors who contribute to private schools, failed to pass in the previous two legislative sessions.

The governor vowed to make New York the first state to enact a $15 minimum wage. Cuomo also proposed paid family leave for all New Yorkers, invoking his late father, Mario Cuomo, who died last year, and expressing regret that he had not spent more time with him. He also called for a campaign to urge more women to have breast exams, invoking his partner Sandra Lee’s breast cancer surgery last year.



January 14th, 2016

Albany, NY- Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), a statewide coalition of over 170 consumer advocacy organizations, congratulates Governor Cuomo for an Executive Budget that continues efforts to increase insurance coverage and help consumers work with their health plans to access care. However, HCFANY proposes changes that will close additional coverage gaps and meet growing demand from consumers who need help with their plans.

The Essential Plan, which is being rolled out this month, is expected to provide coverage for hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income New Yorkers and save the State more than $600 million annually. “Every day our consumers express delight and relief at the chance to get affordable, high quality health coverage for $20 or less a month,” said Elisabeth R. Benjamin, MSPH, JD, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York, “As Governor Cuomo notes, the Essential Plan is a real ‘win-win’ for New York, simultaneously saving money for consumers and easing the State’s budget burden.”

“Make the Road New York (MRNY), along with HCFANY, applauds the Department of Health’s efforts to create the Essential Plan,” said Becca Telzak, Director of Health Programs, MRNY. “However, the state should fund Essential Plan coverage for immigrants who cannot currently participate because of their immigration status. Without this funding, they miss out on a fantastic coverage option and are likely to become or remain uninsured.” Claudia Calhoon, Director of Health Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, adds, “For example, working young people who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA and make too much to be eligible for Medicaid currently have no coverage options. Extending insurance coverage to this small group will strengthen their ability to work, study, and contribute to their communities and New York State’s economy.” HCFANY proposes allocating $10 million to fund Essential Plan coverage for immigrants currently ineligible because they are categorized as PRUCOLs. These are people who entered the US without documentation, but who are now in contact with immigration authorities and are here to stay.

HCFANY also commends the Governor’s support for the Community Health Advocates (CHA) program. Since 2010, CHA has helped nearly 200,000 New Yorkers and saved over $14 million for consumers. “Empire Justice Center is very pleased by Governor Cuomo’s continued support for CHA, a statewide program that provides critical assistance to New Yorkers in accessing health services and best utilizing their insurance coverage to meet their health needs. We look forward to working with both the Governor and the Legislature to provide sufficient resources to fully fund and expand CHA services to engage more small business serving groups and assist more New Yorkers in need,” said Amy Lowenstein, a Senior Health Attorney with Empire Justice Center.

HCFANY looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to secure quality, affordable health care for New Yorkers. A full analysis of the Executive Budget will be released in the coming weeks.


State of the State Address – New York AREA’s Response

January 14th, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual joint State of the State and Budget Address, during which he reiterated his administration’s commitment to assuring that 50% of New York’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2030. He emphasized that “this is no longer a goal; it is a requirement.”

The governor also announced that he will eliminate the use of coal as a fuel by 2020; that all SUNY facilities will be powered by renewables by 2020; and that New York will initiate a $15 million energy research program to lead the nation in innovation in renewable energy.

Notably, the governor did not mention how he plans to achieve these ambitious clean energy goals, especially without protecting the near-zero-carbon baseload power that our nuclear plants, such as Indian Point, provide.

In response, New York AREA Chairman Jerry Kremer issued the following statement:

“Governor Cuomo is to be commended for his vision, leadership and commitment to reduce New York’s carbon emissions so that the state strengthens its clean energy leadership by 2030. There are several initiatives that the Governor has put forward, including promoting cleaner cars and trucks and expanding energy efficiency in affordable apartment buildings that are quite intriguing and seem to merit support.

“However, if the state somehow succeeds in its push to close Indian Point, it will take a big step backwards and go off the tracks on meeting its carbon reduction goals. Closing Indian Point, which provides more than 10 percent of the state’s electricity, will add 8.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and cost New York $1.6 billion in annual economic activity.

“Keeping Indian Point operating is consistent with the Governor’s recent stated position that nuclear power is clean power and that carbon reduction is essential to address climate change. As such, the state should now withdraw its opposition to the independent, federal license renewal for Indian Point.”

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.

Rob DiFrancesco



January 14th, 2016

City and state


Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed boosting state education spending, particularly for troubled schools, in an agenda-setting speech Wednesday that shied away from the contentious education proposals that defined last year’s address.

His most significant proposal was a $100 million plan to convert struggling schools into resource-filled “community” schools. He also called for more funding and oversight for charter schools, a $2.1 billion increase in school funding over the next two years, and a series of changes to the Common Core learning standards, which a state panel recommended last month.

The changes include a temporary ban on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, which marks a reversal from Cuomo’s proposal in last year’s State of the State address to increase the weight of test scores in evaluations. Cuomo did not mention the evaluations on Wednesday, but instead blamed the state education department for a bungled rollout of the standards and assessments, which he suggested had fueled parents’ massive test boycott last year.

The changes are necessary to restore the public’s faith in the state’s education system, he said.

“The education system fails without parental trust,” he said during his roughly two-hour budget and policy speech.

Groups that say the state’s urban schools are severely underfunded were disappointed by Cuomo’s proposed budget increase, while charter school groups were pleased with the idea of extra funds. His more modest education plans this year avoided the fierce attacks by critics that last year’s speech provoked — particularly the state teachers union, which called last year’s speech “intellectually hollow” and “misguided.”

On Wednesday, the union called Cuomo’s latest address “a starting point that sets a positive tone for public education.”

This article was first published by Chalkbeat New York on Jan. 13.

More funding for community schools

The governor wants to earmark $100 million to expand the number of “community” schools, which would provide before-and-after school mentoring, summer activities, and health services to students.

Of that $100 million, $75 million will be allocated to the 17 districts that have schools the state has designated as struggling based on their low test scores or graduation rates. (Last year, only “persistently struggling” schools were eligible to receive a portion of $75 million set aside for turnaround efforts.)

New York City has led the charge on creating community schools. Adding extra support services to struggling schools is at the center of the city’s “Renewal” improvement program, which predated the state’s turnaround effort.

More funding, and enrollment scrutiny, for charter schools

Cuomo, a longtime supporter of the charter-school movement, had mixed messages for charter schools.

He made it clear that he supports the development of more charter schools. His budget proposal increases funding for charter schools by $27 million and will allow the per-pupil funding formula for charter schools to change. (The state’s charter law has frozen per-pupil spending in recent years, frustrating charter advocates who note that their budgets haven’t increased even as district school budgets have.)

“Governor Cuomo’s proposal is a vital element of fixing funding inequity for charter schools,” the pro-charter advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools said in a statement.

He also said he wants state officials to examine the enrollment and retention policies at charter schools. There’s been “anecdotal evidence of troubling practices,” the budget materials read.

That could be a shot at Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, which has been under scrutiny recently after one principal created a “Got to Go” list of troublesome students.

Common Core, state tests, and a final flip-flop

The governor officially accepted all 21 recommendations of made by his Common Core task force in December. It recommended editing the controversial learning standards, especially those for the youngest students, and a number of changes to state tests. The task force also recommended suspending the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations.

Cuomo’s endorsement of the suggestions represents a complete reversal of his policy on teacher evaluations. Last year he used his State of the State Speech to call for tougher teacher evaluations. At Cuomo’s urging, the legislature passed a law that required standardized testing counted for about half a teacher’s evaluation.

The law helped spark a state test opt-out movement that included 20 percent of public school students statewide.


The governor proposed a $2.1 billion increase in state aid to schools over the next two years and a $1 billion increase this year. Cuomo’s materials boast that the allocation would increase school aid to the highest level in history, though it’s lower than the Board of Regents proposal for $2.4 billion in the 2016-17 school year.

It’s also lower than what many education interest groups want. The New York State Educational Conference Board, which is comprised of groups like the state teachers union and the council of school superintendents, suggested a $2.2 billion increase.

Cuomo also proposed eliminating the $434 million Gap Elimination Adjustment, which cut education funding during the financial crisis based on a formula that took a district’s share of high-needs students into account.

Mayoral control

With mayoral control of New York City’s schools set to expire this year, the governor said Wednesday that he supports a three-year extension.

He also supported a three-year extension last January, but ended up renewing the law for only a year amid a public feud between with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who accused Cuomo of using mayoral control as a “political football.”

The mayor struck a more conciliatory tone after governor’s speech.

“I would say this is a system that should be locked in for the long-term, or certainly extended on a longer basis,” de Blasio said in a press conference after the speech, “but I appreciate that the governor put forward a specific number.”


The budget included an additional $22 million for pre-kindergarten programs specifically for three year olds. The investment should create 2,000 to 2,500 new pre-K seats across the state.
Cuomo also supports additional monitoring of pre-K programs. An additional $2 million would support QUALITYstarsNY, a program that reviews early education programs. In the past, pre-K sites didn’t have to use the program. Under Cuomo’s plan, those serving high-needs students would be required to participate or lose state funding.

New York City, where de Blasio has made the expansion of pre-K a signature issue, is using its own system to review individual pre-K programs. Last month, the city announced results from its first review, which indicated that about 77 percent of pre-K programs were meeting a benchmark that shows positive impact on students.


The Roberts Court finds a new way to stack the deck in favor of the rich

January 14th, 2016

washington post

By Dana Milbank

Just in time for the 2016 election, the Roberts Court has found yet another way to stack the deck in favor of the rich.

By all appearances at Monday’s argument, the five Republican-appointed justices are ready to upend a 40-year precedent guiding labor relations in favor of a new approach that will deplete public-sector unions’ finances and reduce their political clout. The case, from California, involves arcane issues of “agency fees” and member opt-outs, but make no mistake: This is about campaign finance, and, in particular, propping up the Republican Party.

Citizens United and other recent rulings created the modern era of super PACs and unlimited political contributions by the wealthy. Because there are fewer liberal billionaires (and those who are politically active, such as George Soros and Tom Steyer, tend to shun super PACs in favor of their own projects) the only real counterweight to Republican super PACs in this new era is union money. And the Supreme Court is about to attack that, too.

The only question is how big a loss Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will be for the unions. It’s virtually certain to be another step toward American oligarchy. The court’s conservative majority, setting aside a professed respect for precedent and states’ authority, is putting a thumb on the scale of justice in favor of the wealthy donors who have purchased the GOP and much of the government.

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the Democratic appointees, argued that there were good arguments on both sides of the case, but no compelling reason to “overrule a compromise that was worked out over 40 years and has lasted reasonably well.” Said Breyer: “I guess people could overrule our decisions just as easily. And you start overruling things, what happens to the country thinking of us as a kind of stability in a world that is tough because it changes a lot?”

The answer, of course, is Americans have already come to see the court as another political branch of government. Lawyer Michael Carvin, leading the anti-union side Monday, gave further justification for that impression. In front of the justices, he dismissed the notion “that anything could happen adversely” to unions as a result of the case. But then he went out to the Supreme Court plaza and, in front of a cheering crowd, told the truth: “It may limit their revenue somewhat, but of course they can compensate for that by being less involved in things like politics.”

And that’s exactly the goal.

The huge political consequences of the case were unstated in the chamber, but the argument was at times as partisan as a debate on the House floor. Carvin frequently interrupted and talked over the three female justices — classic “mansplaining,” as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick observed from the press seats. Carvin referred to the other side’s argument as the “so-called opposition” and pronounced Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s surname as “Soto-my-ear.” At one point he quipped that he has a First Amendment right not to join the American Bar Association, “because virtually every word out of their mouth I disagree with.” Justice Samuel Alito guffawed.

The argument was mostly for show, because there was little doubt the 1977 Abood decision will go down. This will make it easier for public-sector workers who benefit from collective bargaining but who don’t want to be in unions to avoid paying fees to the union, even for nonpolitical functions. Union finances will be further drained at a time when labor is historically weak.

Carvin spent his morning affirming the conservative justices. To Antonin Scalia: “You’re a thousand percent right, Your Honor.” To Anthony Kennedy: “Exactly, Your Honor.” To Alito: “Your recollection of history is correct.”

And these conservative justices left no doubt where they stood. Chief Justice John Roberts dismissed as “really insignificant” the unions’ argument about free riders. Scalia informed the union’s lawyer that his argument “doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Breyer reminded his colleagues that when the court jettisons precedent, it’s usually to right an egregious or basic wrong, such as the Plessy v. Ferguson precedent justifying segregation. “I don’t see anything too basic in the lines you’re drawing,” he told Carvin.

Carvin invoked Thomas Jefferson, saying the third president thought it “sinful and tyrannical” to require “people to give money which they don’t wish to give.”

It’s not known how Jefferson would have felt about public-sector unions. But what’s sinful and tyrannical is for billionaires to take over the electoral process and the government — and for the highest court in the land to take aim at the last remaining counterweight.