Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the New York State of the State on Wednesday and shared his 2020 agenda. Cuomo did not mention bail reform or raising taxes on the wealthy — two policies spearheaded by his party.
The majority of proposals are state-wide policy changes that address a broad variety of topics, mainly preventing exploitation and strengthening protections. New York City is peripherally impacted by most of the State of the State proposals, but five specifically focus on improving the lives of people in New York City.
Convening Outside Experts to Bring New York High-Speed Rail
Cuomo will task a panel of engineers to reexamine past high-speed rail plans, rethink everything, and recommend a new plan. Most of the State’s population lives near the Empire Corridor, which connects the State through New York City, Albany, and Buffalo. Building faster, greener, more reliable high-speed rail in New York has been dismissed in the past because it is an expensive, longterm project. Designing an achievable plan this year is a reasonable start.
“High-speed rail is transforming economies around the world. We’ve been told that bringing this technology to our state is too expensive, too difficult and would take too long – that’s not an acceptable attitude for New York,” Cuomo said. “When we developed our plan to repair the L Train Tunnel, the team of experts we assembled questioned every assumption and brought new creativity to a seemingly intractable problem. We not only found a way to repair the tunnel without shutting down service, we are doing it ahead of schedule. This kind of outside-the-box thinking will help us determine how we could deliver high-speed rail for New York.”
Three-Year Ban for Repeat and High-Risk Sexual Offenders from MTA Systems
Cuomo is banning repeat and high-risk sex offenders from accessing the MTA subway, bus and rail systems. The Governor will advance legislation authorizing the MTA to issue orders prohibiting individuals who commit repeat sex-related violations of the MTA code of conduct, or who are high-risk sex offenders, from using MTA transportation services for a period of three years. This is in response to recent MTA incidents involving repeat sex offenders.
This law also establishes a new policy for transit-related sex crimes. If an offender is convicted, a prohibition order may be imposed by a judge to ensure the safety of the public. People who violate a prohibition order could be charged with a misdemeanor.
“MTA riders deserve to feel safe, and we have an obligation to ensure they will not be targeted by sex offenders,” Cuomo said. “Enough is enough. If we want our public transit system to improve, we need a balance between someone’s right to access public transit and the riders’ right to safety, which is why I am proposing a three-year ban from the MTA transit systems as a penalty for individuals who repeatedly engage in this abhorrent behavior.”
Strengthen the Relationship Between Local Police and the Community
Cuomo is proposing a new policy in which State Attorney General Tish James will address tensions in police-community relations and identify solutions to improve that relationship. The policy is in response to recent viral videos showing several interactions between police and civilians in New York City. Videos have demonstrated a tense relationship between law enforcement and local communities. The plan involves exploring the root causes of the strained dynamic, identifying interventions, and developing reforms to improve policing practices.
“As our nation confronts the toxic mix of anxiety, fear, and division, many of our communities are facing challenges in the relationship between local police and the communities they serve,” Cuomo said. “The stressed relationship has been compounded by viral videos showing recent interactions between police and civilians that have understandably caused an emotional reaction among the public. Attorney General James is a superb leader and as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and a former public advocate she is uniquely suited to help bridge that divide by providing community members and police an opportunity to form a stronger relationship based on respect and trust.”
Expanding New York’s $175 Million Workforce Development Initiative
Cuomo plans on expanding his $175 million Workforce Development Initiative to meet emerging job demand by expanding placed-based workforce development in underserved communities through the creation of New Future of Work Centers. The proposal calls for new workforce training centers and programs that will retrain and prepare people for new jobs.
Future of Work Centers will partner with the private sector, community-based organizations, and the SUNY and CUNY systems to engage local employers and industries to provide training for new and existing workers through established degree programs. New York State will also invest $14 million toward increasing apprenticeship opportunities across the state, including SUNY and CUNY schools.
“This aggressive, all-encompassing approach to workforce training will bolster New York’s groundbreaking Workforce Development Initiative by helping to ensure workers have the skills they need to compete and succeed in emerging industries that are quickly developing across our state,” Cuomo said. “With private sector employment at an all-time high, New York must continue to invest in its workforce and make certain that our workers have the necessary skills to work in a rapidly-changing economy.”
Creating a 21st Century Empire Station Complex in Manhattan
Cuomo is creating the Empire Station Complex, a 21st-century transit complex on Manhattan’s West Side. The plan is to transform the existing Penn Station site, integrate the finished Moynihan Train Hall, and acquire the block south of Penn Station to create an expanded, remodeled and interconnected train and subway complex. The plan boasts new, larger terminals, and will increase track and train capacity by 40%.
“For over a century, New York’s transportation infrastructure drove our growth, especially in New York City, and after decades of idle talk without any real action, we are once again investing in large public projects to support a stronger economy. We’ve built more than any state in the nation, and now we are taking another big step to address one of the weakest links in our transit system,” Cuomo said. “This expansion in the block south of Penn — combined with the soon-to-be-completed Moynihan Train Hall and the transformation of the existing Penn facility — will create an interconnected, world-class Empire Station Complex that will expand capacity by 40 percent. This will improve how more than half a million New Yorkers commute, travel and work every day, while transforming Penn into the world-class facility the Empire State deserves.”