Gov. Andrew Cuomo's annual State-of-the-State speech took on national and global themes on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
In addition to unveiling nearly three dozen initiatives, which can be accessed by clicking here, Cuomo cited concerns about racism and discrimination, calling them "a growing fear and division that is an American cancer." Recognizing that racism and discrimination are not new, he labeled them a virus in our society.
"If we do not defeat it, it will defeat us," Cuomo said. "Hate and discrimination have no place in New York."
Additionally, Cuomo said New York will build upon 2019's new laws—such as increased minimum wage, women's rights and addressing climate change.
"We brought New York state its strongest economy in its history," Cuomo said, before taking a shot at President Trump.
"The only person who raised taxes during the past decade was Donald Trump,'' Cuomo said, pointing to the federal cap on mortgage tax deductions.
Regarding the state economy, Cuomo blamed the $6 billion budget on the rising cost of Medicaid and cuts by the federal government.
Cuomo also called for an expansion on the state's plastic bag ban—which begins March 1—by banning all styrofoam packaging in 2020.
"No economic strategy... will be worth a damn if we don't have a planet to live on. It's our most pressing challenge."
Further, Cuomo proposed a $3 billion "Restore Mother Nature Bond Act to be put before voters on the November ballot to restore waterways and wetlands and improve the quality of the state's drinking water. "It is our responsibility to leave out planet cleaner and greener... and we'll start this year. The economy tomorrow is the green economy."
Cuomo also proposed preserving another 4,000 acres of land in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of the state including better access to Rockwood Hall at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Mount Pleasant. Details on that can be found by clicking here.
Among the other initiatives, Cuomo called for high-speed rail lines across the state, additional gun-control, automatic manual recounts in close elections and a ban on vaping products as well as fentanyl analogs that have worsened the opioid epidemic.
"I am confident we can do all of it," Cuomo said.
Several times during the governor's 90-minute speech, he called for tougher state laws to curb domestic terrorism, including hate crimes.
"We have no place for hate in this state,'' Cuomo said.
"It will get worse before it gets better," Cuomo said. "We have a divided nation and a polarized federal government. New York at her best is the progressive capital of the nation."
"We are all immigrants,'' Cuomo reminded his audience, and he drew a lengthy ovation when he declared: "The strongest four-letter word is not hate, but is love."