The 235th Legislative Session has officially ended and, once again, the Governor and our state legislators have shown that by working together, we can make government work for the people.
Read the progress report below and watch this video message from the Governor to New Yorkers.
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- Progress Report
- Creating Jobs
- NY Works
- Middle Class Tax Cuts
- Mandate Relief & Pension Reform
- Building Communities
- DNA Databank
- Justice Center
- Clean Energy
Over the past 18 months, Governor Cuomo’s top priority has been to revitalize the state’s economy to create jobs and restore New York’s reputation as a world- class place to do business. In order to achieve that goal, the Governor thoroughly redesigned the state’s economic development strategies.
Central to this effort is a statewide network of Regional Economic Development Councils that bring together leaders from every facet of the community. The Regional Councils turned around Albany’s top-down approach to economic development, shifting to a community-based, performance-driven model that empowers local communities to develop and invest in their own economic future. More than $785 million in funding was awarded to the Regional Councils’ over 700 plans and projects. In addition, the Governor, in partnership with the Legislature, spearheaded efforts to pass other long-stalled economic development initiatives such as launching the NYSUNY2020 program to invest in our research institutions and securing the first power plant siting law in more than a decade to help rebuild and repower our state’s energy infrastructure.
Success bred success. In September 2011, Governor Cuomo signaled that New York is once again a competitive player in the global economy by sealing a $4.4 billion investment from five international technology companies. Intel, IBM, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, TSMC, and Samsung jointly invested in New York, making it the epicenter of next-generation computer chip technology. The investment will establish research and development facilities throughout the state, creating and retaining nearly 7,000 jobs. New York secured this investment over competitors in countries across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
To achieve his goals, Governor Cuomo has adopted an entrepreneurial model of government that defines a new relationship between government and the private sector – one that moves beyond the traditional public-private partnership. It is based on the notion that in the competitive global marketplace, the state and the private sector must work collaboratively toward a shared goal. This model allows government to leverage scarce state resources by generating significant private sector investment.
In early December 2011, understanding that our state could not wait until the new year to confront its economic challenges, Governor Cuomo jumpstarted the 2012 legislative process by calling the Legislature back for an Extraordinary Session to pass a historic package of bills designed to strengthen the state’s economy and create jobs.
Through a bipartisan effort, the Legislature enacted an unparalleled economic agenda called NY Works. This transformative program put tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work through a $1 billion targeted investment in rebuilding New York’s roads, bridges, parks, and waterways and modernizing buildings to be cleaner and more energy efficient. It also included an agreement to enact the first passage of a constitutional amendment to allow gaming in New York; provided additional flood relief, including a $50 million grant program and job retention tax credits for businesses affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee; and encouraged businesses to hire inner-city youth by offering tax credits.
The package also made a number of critical changes to state tax policy. It reformed personal income tax rates to make them fairer; cut middle class taxes by over $650 million a year, bringing tax rates to their lowest levels since 1958; and relieved over 700,000 small businesses and self-employed individuals of the burdensome MTA payroll tax to save them over $250 million a year. Thanks to these changes, middle class New Yorkers will see over $900 million in savings, more new jobs, and a stimulated economy.
Economic growth depends on a fiscally stable and responsible state government. In 2011, Governor Cuomo delivered the first on-time budget in years. In 2012, the budget was not just on-time – it was early. The budget closed a $2 billion deficit with no new taxes, fees, or gimmicks, and limited spending growth to two percent or less for the second year in a row. All Funds spending decreased for the second consecutive year – the first time there have been back-to-back decreases in at least three decades. State agencies were able to keep their spending flat thanks to a redesign of their operations to reduce waste. In addition, the projected out-year deficit of $950 million is the smallest it has been in decades. Since Governor Cuomo took office, out-year deficits have been reduced by a cumulative $77 billion.
Governor Cuomo proposed the bold New York Works economic development program, a blueprint for growth and job creation in our state. Among its many initiatives are:
• The first-of-its-kind New York Works Task Force to coordinate capital planning across 45 agencies and authorities and oversee investment and access to funding
• A $15 billion initiative to rehabilitate the state’s infrastructure, including building a new Tappan Zee bridge, and create tens of thousands of jobs by leveraging multiple funding sources, using only $743 million in new state appropriations
• A second round of funding for the Regional Economic Development Councils to continue supporting job development on a region-by-region basis
• The first phase of a multi-year $1 billion economic development package for Buffalo
• A new round of NYSUNY2020 grants to leverage the power of our university system as both an economic force and private sector job generator
• A strengthened commitment to expanding opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, helping them to prosper and create jobs
• The first passage of a constitutional amendment to legalize gaming in New York in order to better regulate existing operations and generate an estimated $1 billion in economic activity
• An energy highway to facilitate billions of dollars in private sector investments and ensure a steady supply of energy across the state
The transformation of the state over the last 18 months is working. In a recent study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce listed New York as one of the country's top 10 states for growth, productivity, and livability, moving the state up 11 spots in the Chamber’s ranking from just one year ago. The study highlighted the strides that Governor Cuomo has made to open up the state for business.
Governor Cuomo's economic package, passed by the Legislature in a special session in December, made a number of critical changes to state tax policy. It reformed personal income tax rates to make them fairer; cut middle class taxes by over $650 million a year, bringing tax rates to their lowest levels since 1958; and relieved over 700,000 small businesses and self-employed individuals of the burdensome MTA payroll tax to save them over $250 million a year. Thanks to these changes, middle class New Yorkers will see over $900 million in savings, more new jobs, and a stimulated economy.
New York’s public pension system has ranked among the most costly in the nation, threatening the economic viability of local governments and school districts across the state. In just the last decade, pension costs for local governments increased by an astounding 650 percent. Pensions have been consuming an ever-growing share of local government budgets, resulting in out- of-control property taxes, dramatic spending cuts to vital services, and the threat of layoffs. These pension costs left working families with an unaffordable local property tax burden that threatened their way of life.
To end this path to fiscal ruin, Governor Cuomo proposed a bold new pension initiative and worked with the Legislature to achieve its passage. The Governor’s Tier VI pension reform plan will achieve over $80 billion in savings over the next three decades. These savings will reach every corner of our state, allowing local governments and school districts to free resources that they can use to offset tax increases and allocate toward other programs. Tier VI achieves enormous savings while only adjusting retirement plans for future employees. It does not affect any current public employee or retiree.
To provide additional savings for local governments, Governor Cuomo proposed that the cost of Medicaid growth be assumed by the state over a three-year period. The Governor's plan will save counties and New York City $1.2 billion over five years.
To help localities rebuild their communities as a result of the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, Governor Cuomo this year ensured that the state covered the local share of disaster response and recovery costs resulting from the storms. The state made over $80 million available to 32 counties to cover costs associated with emergency shelter, road, water system, and infrastructure repair, and other clean-up projects.
Governor Cuomo has made reforming our state’s education system among his highest priorities, understanding that opportunity for our children is the key to our future. He has worked to place greater emphasis on student performance and school accountability.
Central to this effort is his plan to implement New York’s first statewide teacher evaluation system. In 2010, New York was awarded a $700 million Race to the Top grant from the federal government, which required the state to implement a teacher evaluation system. A legal challenge from the teachers’ union blocked the evaluations from moving forward and put the federal funding at risk.
To end the impasse, Governor Cuomo negotiated a groundbreaking agreement between the State Education Department and the unions that created a new statewide teacher evaluation system, making New York a leader in school accountability. In March, the Legislature enacted this system of teacher evaluations, which now stands as a national model.
In addition, to support programs that enhance performance in our schools, Governor Cuomo proposed two competitive grant programs that will award $500 million to school systems that promote student achievement and school accountability. The first round of student achievement grants will be awarded this year, and the grant process for next year’s awards has already begun.
The Governor has also appointed an Education Reform Commission consisting of nationally recognized experts to make recommendations for improving our education system. The Commission will study ways to strengthen teacher recruitment and performance; improve student achievement; increase parent and family engagement; help high-need and low-wealth school communities; and manage educational funding and costs.
Last year, Governor Cuomo led the fight for the strongest changes in rent regulations in almost four decades in order to protect our communities and provide affordable housing for middle class New Yorkers. This year, he has continued his work to build a more fair and just state through many important initiatives, including:
• Providing mortgage foreclosure counseling services to help New Yorkers keep their homes
• Continuing the transformation of the juvenile justice system to reduce crime and improve the lives of young people
• Increasing public assistance by 10 percent, as well preserving child care subsidies for low-income working families
• Combating hunger, particularly among children, by removing the finger imaging requirements of federal food stamp benefits
• Expanding the “FreshConnect” program to help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food
• Establishing a statewide health exchange to reduce the cost of healthcare coverage for individuals, small businesses, and local governments
• Awarding greater funding for community colleges to give students the opportunities they deserve
• Founding an Office of New Americans to help legal residents prosper
Making NY Safer and Fairer
Governor Cuomo successfully led the fight to establish the first all-crimes DNA databank in the nation. Under the Governor’s new law, DNA samples must be collected from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor in New York State. These misdemeanors are often committed by individuals who go on to perpetrate more serious and violent crimes.
In addition to preventing and solving crime, an expanded DNA databank helps to exonerate the innocent. As such, the law includes important provisions to help free those who have been wrongly charged or convicted. Criminal defendants now have much greater access to DNA testing, giving them the power to prove their innocence.
Another area of significant reform is the fight to curb the illegal sale and abuse of prescription drugs. Governor Cuomo, working with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and legislative leaders, developed and enacted a comprehensive prescription drug reform package that will make New York a national leader in reducing prescription drug abuse.
Other major actions to make our state safer included:
• Strengthening the protections for victims of domestic violence
• Combating child pornography on the internet
• Increasing protections for our children from harassment and cyberbullying in our schools and communities
For too long, our state’s system for addressing incidents of abuse against people with special needs has been flawed, lacking firm standards for tracking and investigating complaints or punishing those who commit abuse.
Governor Cuomo proposed and worked with the Legislature to create the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, which will transform how our state protects the over one million New Yorkers under the care or jurisdiction of six state agencies. The law establishes the role of Special Prosecutor and Inspector General to investigate reports of abuse and neglect and prosecute allegations of criminal offenses. In addition, the Justice Center will include a 24/7 hotline run by trained professionals and will create a statewide registry of workers who have committed serious acts of abuse to prevent these people from ever working with New Yorkers with disabilities or special needs.
The Governor continued his commitment to protect our environment and support clean energy through a range of initiatives that included reducing energy consumption in state buildings; investing in solar and wind power; helping businesses go green; and installing hundreds of electric-vehicle charging stations across the state.
The Governor has also been an ardent supporter of the Environmental Protection Fund. After a pattern of steep cuts to the EPF in recent years, Governor Cuomo held the EPF steady at $134 million in his first two budgets. The EPF, a cornerstone of the state’s environmental programs, is a permanent funding mechanism for open space and farmland protections, land acquisition, estuary management, waterfront revitalization, and recycling.
In addition, the Governor reached a landmark $2.4 billion agreement with New York City to invest in green infrastructure as a solution to water pollution.