Publisher’s Corner: Cuomo’s State of the State sounds like a presidential to-do list

January 14, 2021 — Albany, NY — Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers day four of his 2021 State of the State Address in the War Room at the State Capitol. Photo by Darren McGee, Governor’s Office.

In our efforts to get Trump out of the White House, we seem to have largely overlooked things going on in state governments. They have been overshadowed by the national news. If we hear anything about Cuomo, it usually has to do with his adverse relationship with the disgraced former president.

Unfortunately for Cuomo, he has a major multi-billion-dollar business to run. While so many of us were glued to public radio and CNN, Andrew Cuomo split his State of the State message into so many parts that one can hardly keep count.

Since it is my job to keep you up to date, let’s go over some of the major themes that Cuomo has thrown at us. Cuomo has already scored a major success with the election of Joe Biden to the presidency. Biden, for his part, has already signaled that much of what Cuomo was counting on will get done. For example, the election of Biden has virtually assured New York that the federal government will come up with some (but not all) of the money necessary to help New York achieve some fiscal balance. This is required by the state Constitution which suggests that we can’t print money the way the federal government can. In any case, this will lower the state’s multi billion deficit to about half of that. Miraculous!

Cuomo has come up with a laundry list of things he wants to achieve. Assuming that it isn’t just feel-good PR, some of it is too late, but welcome nonetheless. Some of it sounds like a presidential to-do list.

Let’s take the legalization of marijuana. Good for New Yorkers, many of whom have been smoking weed illegally for years. Now they can be taxed and that money would help Cuomo with his budget balancing act, although we are not talking about nearly enough money to do the trick.

It doesn’t stop with cannabis, of course. We all know that in the back of Andrew’s brain is the ultimate prize denied to his father, Mario — the American presidency. While it is hard to see how he will get there, let no one count him out. Too many people who made that mistake are lying on the bar room floor.

Cuomo, who is known to bristle when people claim he is not progressive (left) enough, has let it be known that he is all in on the good stuff. In his State of the State Address, he presented a huge off-shore wind generation proposal. Good idea unless you are a Fire Islander, but if it ever happens, you’ll get used to it. We know that fossil fuels are on the way out and Andrew seems to be saying. “I’ll have some of that.” Great idea but ideas have to get made real.

In the middle of the pandemic, Cuomo also suggested a thousand-person public health corps. Why do I get the feeling that Andrew might be experiencing an FDR transfusion? Right now, he can’t seem to get enough money to pay our teachers but hey, whatever works. I’m all for it.
And speaking of money which we don’t have, how about his proposal for a $306 billion (with a “b”) infrastructure plan?

These are just a few things in the State of the State proposal. You had better believe that while Andrew may be counting on Joe Biden’s help, the incoming president will be busy trying to balance his own budget and that won’t be easy. But you have to give credit to Cuomo for putting this stuff out there, even if much of it is way beyond what the state can afford. Hey, he needed a State of the State Address and it was very creative. Maybe it was really a State of The Union Address.