It has been three years since Governor Andrew Cuomo assumed office as the 56th Governor of the State of New York. His leadership has restored our State as a model for the nation and demonstrated the impact that an effective and responsive government can have on the lives of its people. With all that has been accomplished over the last three years, it is easy to forget where we started and how far we have come.
When the Governor began his term, New York’s economy was in a downward spiral as a result of an exodus of businesses and people and a significant loss of jobs, particularly upstate. State government faced massive budget deficits that sapped its ability to govern. Homeowners and businesses suffered under ever-rising property taxes, and an out-of-control pension system burdened local governments and threatened to destroy their future.
Albany was both unwilling and unable to address these problems. Controlled by special interests and mired in political gridlock, the government stood as a symbol of dysfunction and inaction that lacked the political will to make tough decisions. Years of scandals and corruption caused people to lose faith in their government. The State was seen as hopeless and beyond repair.
Governor Cuomo came into office promising to tackle the problems plaguing Albany, to change
the attitude and culture of the government, and he has not let up. The year just ending has been the administration’s most productive. It builds on the significant accomplishments of the first two years and helps reaffirm New York’s role as a national leader. Among the administration’s major accomplishments in 2013:
Governor Cuomo delivered on a third consecutive on-time balanced budget: this is the first time this has happened in 30 years. In his first year he closed a $10 billion budget deficit with no new taxes, fees, or gimmicks and since then has held State spending growth to 2% per year.
The Governor delivered additional income tax cuts for the middle class in 2013, building on his 2011 cuts that brought middle class income tax rates to their lowest level since 1953 and eliminated the MTA payroll tax for over 700,000 small businesses and self-employed individuals.
During his first two years, Governor Cuomo led the successful fight for a property tax cap that holds the growth of the local property taxes to 2%, and sweeping pension reforms that will save the State and local governments $80 billion over the next 30 years. In 2013, he continued his efforts to control property taxes by ending all future growth in Medicaid costs to local government and making important changes to the binding arbitration law.
The Governor redoubled his efforts to build the economy and create jobs, awarding $750 million in the third round of the Regional Economic Development competition for high priority, job creating projects. He began the game-changing Start-Up NY program, a partnership with the State University of New York and other colleges and universities. The program offers businesses that locate or expand in New York the opportunity to operate completely tax-free for ten years on or near eligible campuses. Businesses will partner with these institutions and be able to access industry experts and advanced research laboratories. The Governor continued to expand the Upstate economy through the “Buffalo Billion” project, a multi-year $1 billion economic initiative; nanotech investment; unprecedented support to the State’s agricultural industry; and the largest tourism campaign in decades.
The Governor continued his work transforming New York into a 21st century state. He is rebuilding the State’s infrastructure through the New NY Works program and the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, setting a new standard for efficiency and performance in state construction.
The administration continued to reform the State’s education system. Building on his nationally recognized teacher and principal evaluation system, the Governor launched the New NY Education Reform Commission to focus on performance. He has begun implementing the Commission’s recommendations for community schools, full-day pre-kindergarten, master teachers, and extended learning time.
To help ensure honesty and integrity in government, the Governor appointed the Moreland
Commission to investigate public corruption and recommend legislative changes to better fight corruption and reduce the influence of money in politics.
The State enacted the SAFE Act to stop criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying guns. The new law requires universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.
To ensure New York has the finest healthcare system in the nation, the Governor continued to
structurally reform Medicaid. His innovative Medicaid Redesign Team is transforming the health care system, saving billions of dollars in costs and improving the quality of healthcare. The State launched the New York State of Health program to help more than one million uninsured New Yorkers access quality, affordable health care coverage. The approved premium rates for 2014 are 53% less than what individuals would have paid last year.
To accelerate the growth of the clean energy economy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the State launched a $1 billion Green Bank to finance the transition to a cost-effective, resilient power system, expanded the NY-SUN solar energy program, and stepped up efforts to build new electric vehicle charging stations. Continuing his efforts to preserve open space throughout the State, the Governor announced public access for some of the priceless former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondacks.
The State continued its efforts to help New Yorkers to recover and rebuild from the ravages of Superstorm Sandy, Tropical Storm Lee, and Hurricane Irene, and better prepare for future severe weather events. In addition to working closely with community leaders to rebuild damaged areas, the State has been creating a better emergency response system and improved preparedness capability to ensure that all New York communities are better prepared for future severe weather events.
The attached is a detailed account of the achievements of the year.