Statewide campaign aimed at building public support for key legislative priorities including property tax cap, ethics reform and marriage equality
Albany, NY (May 10, 2011)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today kicked-off his "People First Campaign" at Onondaga Community College, where he outlined his legislative priorities and told New Yorkers that their voices must be heard in order to get Albany to act on these key reforms.
Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that he and his senior staff would tour the state in order to speak directly to the people of New York about, among other issues, creating a property tax cap, cleaning up Albany by passing ethics reform and passing a marriage equality bill. Governor Cuomo said that all of these issues must be addressed during the current legislative session and asked New Yorkers to call their legislators and urge them to act.
"Our entire team is going to travel the state to speak directly to New Yorkers about the issues that can move this state forward, and it begins in Syracuse," Governor Cuomo said. "We need to pass a property tax cap, ethics reform, and marriage equality during this legislative session. The clock is ticking, but when the people speak, the politicians will listen. Remember the people's voice wins in a democracy, but it must be heard and now is the time to speak up so we can make this the Empire State once again"
The Governor's People First campaign focuses on three specific legislative priorities:
Property Tax Cap:
New Yorkers pay among the highest property taxes in the nation, forcing families to sell their homes and move out of state. Massive property tax increases also discourage businesses from investing and creating jobs. In the last decade, property taxes have increased a staggering 73 percent – that's twice the rate of inflation.
Governor Cuomo has proposed a comprehensive tax cap that would control property taxes. Under his plan:
- Local school districts and governments could only raise property taxes each year by 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
- All governments would be included under this plan, and few exemptions would be allowed.
- Local communities and local voters would retain control, however, and could override the cap. For school boards it would require a 60 percent vote on the budget, and for non-school boards it would require a two-thirds vote of the responsible legislative body.
Ultimately, the property tax cap would give much-needed relief to New York taxpayers and encourage local governments and school districts to be more efficient and make the most of their resources.
Robert M. Simpson, president, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking the message directly to the people and building a broad consensus. Central New York business owners know all-too-well the perils of unwieldy property taxes. We need relief now. Governor Cuomo's proposal to cap property taxes and provide mandate relief will help countless families and businesses that are struggling to make ends meet and transform New York into a job-creating, business friendly and prosperous state."
New York State government used to be a symbol of integrity and performance, but we have lost that standard. To clean up the government and restore trust with New Yorkers, we need to pass a new ethics law that mandates transparency and full disclosure as well as a law that calls for a real independent monitor.
Among many reforms the Governor's ethics reform agenda would:
- Require disclosure of clients doing business with the state that are represented by legislators before the state and disclosure of how much they get paid.
- Require the creation of an independent body to provide oversight and enforcement of ethics rules because, as we have seen in the past, self-policing does not work.
- Require lobbyists to disclose any business relationship with legislators in excess of $1,000.
- Strip pensions from those public officials convicted of a felony related to the abuse of their official duties.
Kathy Murphy Pietrafesa, SYRACUSE 20/20 Co-Chair said, "Governor Cuomo's focus on reforming the much-maligned ethical shortcomings in Albany is a welcome breath of fresh air for all New Yorkers. Disclosure and transparency are the best way to ensure that New York taxpayers are being treated fairly and that our state is operating in a just manner. We applaud Governor Cuomo's ongoing reform efforts and look forward to continuing to work with his Administration."
Despite our state's proud tradition as the progressive capital of the nation, on the issue of marriage equality, New York has sadly lagged behind. While gay and lesbian New Yorkers can drive to Massachusetts or Connecticut to be married, such marriages are not permitted in New York. In the face of New York's failure to act and to lead, states like New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia have all recognized the importance of marriage equality and now allow same-sex couples to marry.
Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said that it is time to for our state to retake our leading role in guaranteeing equal rights for all. This is about civil rights and equality. Denying marriage to all undermines the very dignity and legitimacy that our state routinely provides to other couples.
Barring marriage equality denies same-sex couples and their families over 1,000 federal and 700 state rights that are afforded to millions of New Yorkers. For instance, spouses have hospital visitation rights and can make medical decisions in the event of illness or disability. Employers offer spouses sick leave, bereavement leave as well as access to health insurance and pensions. Also, the law provides certain rights to a person's spouse regardless of whether or not a will exists. None of these rights exist for same-sex couples in the absence of marriage.
The Assembly has passed marriage equality legislation in previous legislative sessions but in 2009, the bill failed to pass the Senate.
Kim Dill, Executive Director of Sage Upstate, said, "Governor Cuomo's commitment to seeing marriage equality become a reality is a welcome sign for all New Yorkers. Our state can and should be a leader in social progress. We're proud that he has come to Syracuse to kick-off his People First campaign, and that he has recognized that marriage equality is a fundamental civil rights issue."
Governor Cuomo has repeatedly indicated that for real reform to occur in New York, he must make his case directly to the people of the state. Explaining the issues and maintaining an open dialogue allows New Yorkers to form an opinion, organize, and make Albany act.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "During his first few months in office, Governor Cuomo passed a historic budget that reigned in spending and cut the fat throughout the state. But the legislative session is not over and there is still work to be done. I applaud Governor Cuomo for bringing his message of reform to the people of Onondaga County and throughout the state. I look forward to working with the Governor to strengthen New York's economy and ensure our state remains a leader in the U.S."
Syracuse City Council President Van Robinson said, "I commend Governor Cuomo on the People's First Tour. By presenting his legislative agenda to the people, he is including all New Yorkers in the process. His strong agenda will ensure that New York remains on the path to fiscal prosperity and maintains its reputation as a progressive leader in the U.S."
Onondaga Community College President Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D., said, "On behalf of Onondaga Community College, I am honored to welcome Governor Andrew Cuomo for today's important announcement and extend to him our appreciation for his leadership and service to our citizens and our state. As the 'community's college,' Onondaga often serves as a venue for public announcements such as this, and we are honored to once again serve in this role."
For more information about the People First tour, visit www.NYPeopleFirst.com.