Gov. Andrew Cuomo is laying out an aggressive and specific agenda for 2018 aimed at improving public safety by strengthening gun laws by removing firearms from domestic abusers and going after sextortion and sexual harassment; gangs; protecting public health and the environment; advancing climate action by divesting the state’s pension fund from carbon.
He also calls for significant investments in economic development and infrastructure, including a $1 billion redevelopment project to turn Belmont into a hub for a new sports arena for the Islanders; modernizing Stewart International Airport; and continuing to incentivize downtown revitalization projects.
And he seeks to protect the political process by mandating transparency in political advertising and streamlining voter registration.
“What we saw during the last election was a systematic effort to undermine and manipulate our very democracy,” said Cuomo. “With these new safeguards, New York — in the strongest terms possible — will combat unscrupulous and shadowy threats to our electoral process, as well as break down fundamental barriers that for far too long have prevented New Yorkers from being heard and from exercising their right to vote.”
Here’s a synopsis of 19 proposals in his State of the State address:
1: Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers. New York would require mandatory surrender of firearms after all domestic violence convictions including misdemeanors. (Of course, this and all state gun laws would be negated if the Republicans in Congress pass Conceal Carry Reciprocity law).
2: Protect the Environment, Protect the Hudson River. In this first part of a comprehensive environmental program, New York will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if they accept the Upper Hudson River dredging of polychlorinated biphenyls as complete. New York is also prepared to withdraw from the 2002 Record of Decision which guided the cleanup and removal of millions of tons of PCB-contaminated sediment from the Upper Hudson River. (The EPA’s decision is expected to be announced later this month and indications are they will deem the cleanup complete.)
3: Round 3 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Invest $100 million (awarding $10 million in each of 10 regions) to support transformative projects that will attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses. The projects are selected through a competitive process selected by the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils. So far The City of Westbury on Long Island and Hicksville in the Town of Oyster Bay on Long Island are the two Long Island downtowns that won grants.
4: Eradicate MS-13, a comprehensive strategy to engage at-risk youth in social and educational programs as a means of cutting off the recruiting pipeline of MS-13. This includes expanding afterschool programs, job and vacationing training, gang prevention education programming, support services especially for immigrant children, and deploying a Community Assistance team. Long Island is a particular focus.
5: Eliminate the minimum wage tip credit. Cuomo will direct the Commissioner of Labor to schedule public hearings to examine industries and evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits in New York State.
6: Continue to reduce local property tax burden by making the state’s County Shared Services Panels permanent, using a combination of incentives and punishments to pressure localities to consolidate services.
7. Invest over $20 million to launch Phase One of the wastewater system overhaul to complete comprehensive infrastructure and operational improvements at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility.
8. Protect Adirondack Park: New York will take legal action to halt Iowa Pacific Co.’s plan to store thousands of railcars indefinitely in the Adirondack Park, New York’s constitutionally-protected land.
9. Divest the $200 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund from significant fossil fuel investments.
Work with Comptroller DiNapoli to create an advisory committee of financial, economic, scientific, business and workforce representatives as a resource for the Common Retirement Fund to develop a de-carbonization roadmap to invest in opportunities to combat climate change and support the clean tech economy while assessing financial risks and protecting the Fund.
10. Bringing the New York Islanders home to Long Island with a world-class, year-round sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park. New York Arena Partners, a joint venture among Sterling Equities, the Scott Malkin Group, Madison Square Garden and the Oak View Group, has been selected to lead a transformational $1 billion redevelopment of Belmont Park including an 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders, a new 435,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex, and new hotel.
The project includes six acres of outdoor recreation space and up to 10,000 square feet of community space to be developed in consultation with the local community. It would also be a model of sustainable development with LEED Gold certification, high-efficiency LED lighting and HVAC systems, water conservation and waste/recycling; new green space, public open space and streetscaping; STEM educational programming for local students; tailored MWBE (Minority & Women Business Enterprises) program committing to state’s nation-leading goal of 30 percent MWBE contracts and six percent disabled veterans.
11: Outlaw “sextortion” and non-consensual pornography, often known as “revenge porn.” Under these new measures, a conviction will require registration as a sex offender and sentences ranging from a class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation, or up to a class C Felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
12: Protect New York’s lakes: implement a $65 million, 4-point initiative to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms in upstate New York that threaten the recreational use of 12 priority lakes that are important to upstate tourism, as well as sources of drinking water.
13: Implement a Democracy Agenda to protect the integrity of New York elections from outside influence, require transparency for digital political ads, streamline voter registration services and remove unnecessary barriers that prevent participation in elections and increase accuracy in the voting process.
14: Fast Track construction of a new, state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination, now stretching nearly four-miles long and two-miles wide in the underground aquifer, caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Bethpage manufacturing facilities in Oyster Bay, Nassau County.
15: Launch a comprehensive “No Student Goes Hungry” program to provide students of all ages, backgrounds and financial situations access to healthy, locally-sourced meals from kindergarten through college.
16: Further action to fight the crushing burden of student loan debt, building off the governor’s Excelsior Scholarship, a first-in-the-nation program that makes New York State public universities tuition-free for middle class families.
17: Invest $34 million to modernize and expand Stewart International Airport in Orange County and turn it into an international gateway with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station and additional alternative to metro airports, boosting tourism; rebrand as New York International at Stewart Field.
18: A multi-pronged agenda that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. It would prevent use of taxpayer dollars to fund individual sexual harassment settlements; proposes a uniform code of sexual harassment for all branches of state and local government; mandates private companies that do business with the state report sexual assault and harassment statistics; and would void forced arbitration policies or clauses.
19: Strengthen workforce development.
Establish a new, $175 million Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments; create an Office of Workforce Development; launch one-stop shop to help workers and businesses navigate workforce development programs.