The Governor of the State of New York has yet again completely ignored the planetary climate emergency at a time when strong leadership is desperately needed. Not one of his 30+ proposals directly addressed the climate crisis, and they barely touched on other pressing issues facing New Yorkers (like the need for single-payer healthcare or progressive taxation to close the $6 billion budget gap). Governor Cuomo prefers small-bore, low-stakes reforms because they pose no threat to his wealthy donors.
In fact, Cuomo’s most ambitious move since his party’s takeover of the legislature in 2018 was to install a commission to kill off minor parties in New York, under the guise of public campaign finance. The Green Party and others are still fighting for our lives against this cartel-like power play to eliminate rivals in what is supposed to be a democracy. Cuomo is all-too-ready to “think big” or “outside of the box” when it comes to strangling voter choice.
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But when it comes to saving the planet? He cannot even summon a half-measure. New York should lead the U.S. with a commitment to halt new fossil fuel infrastructure in our state and invest $10 billion in an Eco-Socialist Green New Deal. But the CLCPA will not stop the worst effects of the climate crisis – we have until 2030 to de-carbonize the economy, and the CLCPA sets 2050 as a target for an 85% greenhouse gas reduction.
Yes, Cuomo proposed a $3 billion bond. But 1. $3 billion isn't enough 2. Bonds make future generations pay for our sins while enriching the children of the already-wealthy 3. When Cuomo proposes a $3 billion dollar bond for renewable infrastructure in January, by July it will turn out to be a $250 million tax break for New York's corporate elite.
Cuomo has virtually eliminated the environmental justice provision from the CLCPA and slashed funding. We need an immediate commitment to targets that rapidly shift New York to a 100% renewable economy with thousands of new, public sector jobs paying living wages. We have just witnessed one of the hottest years on record and wildfires ravaging California, the Amazon and Australia, yet Andrew Cuomo seems more concerned about legalizing alcohol sales in movie theaters.
New York is facing a $6 billion budget deficit because health care costs keep rising. Gov. Cuomo's speech barely touched on how to reign in those costs and he refuses to discuss raising taxes. We have heard about the proposed 1% cuts to Medicaid, which will severely impact those most in need. Yet the NY Health Act would both reduce state expenditures on health care and cover everyone.
Why won't Cuomo talk about it? For a governor that likes to tout his progressive credentials and fiscal responsibility, it's curious that he won't even talk about single-payer.
Cuomo also didn't touch on progressive tax reform in his speech – why not propose the state stop rebating the stock transfer tax? That alone would close the current budget gap and no new taxes would need to be instituted. New York needs long-term progressive tax reform that shifts the burden to the wealthy and corporations and away from property and sales taxes. Again, single-payer would relieve a huge tax burden on local governments and allow property taxes to be cut.
Cuomo's State of the State is once again disappointing. No climate crisis, single-payer, or progressive tax reform. Nothing on marijuana legalization. No talk about real electoral reform. Cuomo is a master of style over substance, but this is barely much of either. We need bold policies and he's given us thin gruel.