March 1, 2017
Albany, NY

Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks at Orthodox Union Student Rally

TOP Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor...
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Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks at the Orthodox Union Student Rally in Albany. While at the rally, Governor Cuomo also announced that he will travel to Israel on an economic development trip this weekend.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below.


Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. Well, welcome to Albany. I hope you had a good trip. You’re way up north now right? You’re expecting snow. You’re expecting big mountains in Upstate New York. Well, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Let me begin by applauding and thanking Allen Fagin, who is a magnificent leader. You are blessed to have him. He is a magnificent leader for your organization and for your schools. He is a magnificent mentor for students, as a teacher himself and as a role model himself, and more than anything, he is an effective, effective advocate and partner with the state of New York. So, let’s give him a round of applause. I agree with Mr. Fagin’s message. He is exactly right. Education, education, education – that’s what it’s all about. That’s what made New York, New York. That’s what made America, America. You can come here and we promise you one thing. One promise. We’ll give you the ability to rise as high as your talents will take you and we will give you a world-class education.

We have basically two education systems in the state of New York. One is a public education system. Public schools, which are very, very important and we support. Then we have religious schools. I’m catholic. My parents chose to send me to a Catholic elementary school, and a catholic high school I went to. I’m from Queens and I went to a Catholic elementary, Catholic high school. The religious education was important to my parents the way it was important to your parents. The religious schools, Jewish schools, Catholic schools, Muslim schools – are a very, very important part to our education system. First, because people have choice. Your parents had a choice. They could send you to a religious school, they could send you to a public school. My parents had a choice and that choice is important to us and we respect that choice and we want to make sure everybody has that choice. So, the sustainability of the religious schools is very important.

Second, if you didn’t have the religious schools – if you didn’t have the Orthodox Union education 200,000 students – they would go to the public schools. And if they went to the public schools, frankly, our current public education system couldn’t handle it. So, if you want to preserve the public education system, you have to make sure the religious education system stands strong. So, the wisdom then says – it’s not about supporting a religious education system, or a public education system. You must support both to have either, and that’s our point. You have to be supportive of a public education system and a religious education system. It’s not a question of either or, it’s both. We have done dramatically better over recent years, and Mr. Fagin is right, we have to move the needle further and we have to move it faster. We propose a budget for the state, that’s what happens in the beginning of the year. The governor makes his proposal and then the legislature – the assembly and the senate – they take up the governor’s budget and we argue about it. Nicely, but it’s an argument. And everybody has their own opinion. My opinion is I aggressively support the religious schools. My budget reflects that. I’ve given the religious schools in my budget, more money than ever before in history. We did that last year and we’ll do it again this year.

We did that last year, and we’ll do it again this year when we propose even more funding than ever before for the religious schools. We increase but we call the funds for mandated services, then we provide $25 million for capital money to make sure we have technology in schools. You’re doing extraordinarily well. Teaching students the skill for the next generation – the STEM skills. That is about technology but then you have to have the technology in the classroom. They have to have the, literally, the ability to mechanically connect the hardwiring capacity. So we have $25 million additional this year for that capital improvements to schools. And as Mr. Fagin said, I announced a proposal for an additional $25 million for security for religious schools given all that’s going on. I want to take a moment and speak to you about that.

There is a rash of anti-Semitic activity that’s going on. Not just in NY, but all across the nation. Also, in Canada – over 100 incidents across the country. And it is very, very disturbing. I’m sure it’s disturbing to you personally, it’s disturbing to me personally. We felt that here in NY from one end of the state to the other from Buffalo, we’ve had it on LI, Rochester, Syracuse, New Rochelle, Tarrytown, Staten Island… all across the state. If anything, it’s getting worse not better. Now it is not new. You are relatively young people so to you, these things seem new.  I wish it was new. Bigotry, hatred of others is not new. It is very, very old. The old equation still exists. Anger plus ignorance equals ugliness. Anger plus ignorance equals ugliness. And that’s what you’re seeing now. People are angry. Angry at the economy, angry at their job situation, angry at the threats that they’re feeling from other countries – they’re angry. And they’re ignorant.

You put those two things together and you get the lashing out and the bigotry and the meanness and the cowardice that you see in these threats. That’s the ugliness. It is repugnant to everything we believe as New Yorkers. Everything we believe. You’re Jewish, I’m catholic. My forbearers were Italian. New York made one statement to the whole world: New York said we will open our arms to you and we will invite you in. And people from all over the world came to NY, came to America. We are all from someplace else. By definition, unless you are Native American, you’re a newcomer. Everybody.

Anybody here Native American? No? Then you’re all newcomers. You’re all immigrants to the land. No one has a right to say who should be here and who should not be here. That’s the New York way.  We’re all here and the promise we make to each other is we’re all equal, and we’re all free from discrimination and we’re all free from stereotype and we work together to provide opportunity for all of us. That’s what New York is. So these threats are disgusting, they’re sad, they’re repugnant, and they’re cowards. I went this morning to the JCC here in Albany. Children. Pre-k, daycare… you would threaten a place that has children? What could be more reprehensible than that type of behavior and that type of activity? Now, it’s not just disgusting. It’s also illegal. And as governor of the state I want you to know I am doing everything I can to enforce the law, to find these people to bring them to justice and to give them their due.

We have the state police and a special unit set up by the state police, and they're working with the FBI, and they're working with local law enforcement entities because we want to be loud and clear and strong that we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior whatsoever. The Jewish community is very important to New York. New York would be a different New York if it did not have the Jewish community. Largest population of Jewish people outside of Israel is where? New York. That's one of the things that makes us special. You look at your tradition, you look at the tradition of this nation. So many of our great leaders, so many of the people who contributed to shaping America were Jewish. Benjamin Cardozo, one of the greatest jurists ever. A great jurist who is now on the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, who I had the opportunity to work with. A great governor of New York, Governor Herbert Lehman. Great Attorney General Lefkowitz, great Senator Jacob Javits, before your time, beautiful man. Going back to when the nation was just formed, the poem on the Statue of Liberty is written by Emma Lazarus, a Jewish woman. Business community, arts community, so much of New York in America we owe to the Jewish people, and that unity is important and it is important that we speak to it with the Jewish community. It is important to me personally, not just because of the way I grew up.

I have three sisters. Two of my sister married Jewish men. They are literally my family and they are part of the family of New York. With this ugliness that is going on, it's our obligation to stand up and to speak loudly against it. Elie Wiesel, as usual, said it best. "Wherever men and women are being persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must, at that moment, become the center of the universe." These acts of anti-Semitism must be attacked by all of us. This weekend, I am going to do an economic development trip to Israel, which is a great economic development partner of ours to talk about technology and joint ventures that we're working on with technologies and to talk about security. But I'm also going to bring a message of solidarity, and I want to say to the people of Israel and I want to say to the Jewish community, "In New York, you are not alone, and every person in the state of New York with any decency and understanding of what it means to be a New Yorker stands with you at this moment, and we speak with one voice condemning this repugnant behavior and we stand arm in arm with the Jewish community through this time of hardship." I say that to you today. We'll say that to the people in Israel this weekend.

In the meantime, I welcome you to Albany. I would be personally offended if you do not go and view the Capitol while you are here.  The State Capitol was all redone. It's a short walk from where you are now. It is a beautiful piece of history. It's a great building, one of the most beautiful Capitols in the United States, I might say, as an arrogant New York governor, finished by Teddy Roosevelt, who was one of the great governors, and it is now all redone and it really is a special place. A lot of history, a lot of great governors. Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Al Smith, a gentleman named Mario Cuomo who was before your time but you missed a great one but you missed him. So you see the Capitol, you have a safe trip, you have a good day, you stand up for religious education when those leaders come here today. You stand up and you scream for support of your schools, and I will be in Israel and you carry the message home and I'll carry the message to Israel. Thank you and God bless you.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office