Dede Scozzafava, a member of the Cuomo administration, stopped in Plattsburgh at the North Country Chamber of Commerce to relay the governor’s vision for the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes everyone has a role to play in setting the agenda for New York, says Dede Scozzafava.
The Deputy Secretary for Local Government at the Department of State delivered this message during a stop in Plattsburgh Jan. 6. The visit was part of the Cuomo administration’s Regional State of the State message.
“We are all New Yorkers,” Scozzafava said at the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
She started by saying 2011 began with true leadership at the helm.
That leadership closed $10 billion in deficit without gimmicks and on time, it enacted the first ever property-tax cap, closed 3,800 prison beds and launched the New York open for business campaign. It also enacted an affordable energy policy, provided flood relief, restored the state’s reputation as the progressive capital of the nation, ended marriage inequality and more.
“We finally brought fairness to New York,” Scozzafava said. “The more you make the higher rate you pay.”
Under Cuomo, the middle class paid the lowest tax rate in 58 years.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Scozzafava said. “But we’ve only just begun.”
She discussed a three-part plan for New York.
Part one brings the next phase of an economic blueprint for growth.
New York must remain ahead of the competition, Scozzafava said.
Cuomo believes convention centers are an important economic generator, and New York must capture more conventions within its borders. A goal is to build the largest convention center in the country.
“He believes New York can become the number one convention site,” Scozzafava said.
She detailed launching the second round of regional councils for $200 million and honing in on casino gambling. No one likes to talk about gambling, she said, but it is happening and New York cannot be beat by other states.
“We have 29,000 electronic gaming machines,” Scozzafava said. “We are in competition with other states. It’s about jobs. We want to amend the constitution and do gaming right.”
Scozzafava said the state needs to rebuild its infrastructure with 32 percent of bridges labeled deficient and 40 percent of roads rated poor. But there needs to be one coordinated approach to infrastructure in the state, and everyone needs to have a better idea of how the state is moving forward.
Part of that plan entails improving more than 100 bridges and repairing 2,000 miles of roads.
Part two of the plan would reinvent government, Scozzafava said. Cuomo envision a government that performs better and costs less.
It would close the remaining $2 billion deficit without new taxes and fees.
“We must do more on mandate relief,” Scozzafava said. “This year we will continue to work on mandate relief.”
She described a mandate relief council and public hearings that would culminate in a mandate relief package that would go before the Legislature.
From 2009 to 2013, there is a predicted 100 percent increase in pension costs. Pension reform is a must, she said.
Scozzafava said everyone in education has a lobbyist except the students, and Cuomo plans to be that lobbyist.
“His office will lobby for children in New York state,” she said. “The purpose of education is to help children grow.”
Currently, New York state is number one in education spending and ranks 38 in graduation rates.
“We need major reform,” Scozzafava said. “We need to be number one in achievement and we cannot fail.”
Part three is the state’s vision for a progressive future.
The financial crisis is taking a “terrible” toll on homeowners, Scozzafava said, and Cuomo is recommending a foreclosure relief unit to help people stay in their homes.
One in six children in New York live in homes without enough food, yet 30 percent of families eligible for food stamps do not enroll in the program.
“We need to promote outreach, end the stigma and increase enrollment,” Scozzafava said.
Cuomo would further expand the DNA database to include all crimes and close loopholes and help small businesses by simplifying the tax code.
“Last year was a historic success, but there’s much more to do,” Scozzafava said. “We are New Yorkers and need to work together to make this the best state it can be.”