Assemblymember Cahill Reacts to 2013 State of the State Address

January 9, 2013
Albany, NY – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) released the following statement on Governor Cuomo’s 2013 State of the State address:

In today’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo put forth an agenda that builds upon the successes of the Legislature in restoring the state’s middle class, continuing our commitment to a quality education for all children, and putting our state at the forefront of the emerging green economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues to help make our shared vision a reality.

Budget

In the past several years, New York has passed fiscally responsible, on time budgets to move our state forward and provide real relief to families across the state. I am staying strong in my support for local assistance for education and Medicaid, and will work to ensure that the enacted budget focuses on reforms that deliver aid efficiently and effectively to those who need it most.

Boosting Working Families

As our economy continues to improve, the Legislature recognizes that for some, improvements are coming too slowly. Many are struggling to get by on minimum wage, and the Assembly believes that individuals who are working full time should not be living in poverty. One of my top priorities will be passing legislation to increase the minimum wage and creating more good-paying, permanent jobs in the Mid Hudson Valley.

Energy

The Governor took today’s presentation as the opportunity to introduce his new Energy “Czar,” Richard Kauffman. Our energy policy has long suffered from disjointed, uncoordinated bureaucracies incapable of advancing coherent long term energy policy. This centralization is a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate, the Governor, and now Mr. Kauffman, to advance a progressive agenda for all New Yorkers.

The Moreland Act Commission is correct in their recommendation that the Public Service Commission should strengthen their oversight of our state’s electric utilities. I welcome the concept of a proactive approach to regulating our utilities, and ask the Governor and the Senate to join in our efforts to restore consumer advocacy before the PSC. Robust consumer representation assures better quality, more reliable and less expensive power for New Yorkers.

While we should certainly be examining the organization of the Long Island Power Authority, with fewer than 100 employees on the Authority’s payroll, the vast majority of LIPA has already been privatized, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this paradigm has been ineffective.

We must seize this opportunity to take a comprehensive look at our electric grid and pass strong meaningful legislation that will create a long-term resolution through modernization. One of the biggest problems of the deregulated energy market has been the failure to take on the transmission and distribution weaknesses that have existed for decades. To address these issues, I have introduced the Grid Modernization Act (A.1932) which directs utilities to overhaul their entire transmission and distribution systems with smart grid technology using funds approved by NYSERDA, the PSC and the federal government. If enacted, this legislation would bring our electric system up to date by adopting modern technologies with a better trained work force to implement a rigorous maintenance schedule that will be better equipped to handle twenty-first century conditions including dramatic and severe changes in our weather system.

Education Reform

The Governor highlighted numerous steps to reform our education system and provide our children with the highest quality education to fully prepare them to enter college and the workforce. The Assembly has already hit the ground running. I have introduced two bills designed to significantly improve education in our state. The Twenty First Century Schools Act (A.1373) focuses on modernizing out school system and the Equity in Education Act (A.1598) ease, and subsequently eliminate, the burden of rising, regressive property taxes as a means of funding. If we are to tackle the challenges of education, we must do so from funding to equity for all students. As the Governor pointed out, education must be our top priority.

Reducing a Culture of Violence

The recent incidents and an emerging culture of violence demands that we take comprehensive steps to examine our society. It is time to have an honest discussion concerning every option on the table. Nothing should be sacred except the safety and security of our people, especially our children.

Disaster Relief

The Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been representing communities that have been victimized by natural disasters more often in the last five years than ever in our history. These tragedies require a quick and complete responsiveness from the government. I remain dedicated to fighting for the relief these families need. It is past time for the Federal government to step up and do their fair share. If people cannot count on government during a time of disaster, then when can they?

Conclusion

Now that the Governor has begun to set the tone for his agenda, we turn our focus toward creating a timely, responsible budget that closes our deficit without placing the burden on the middle and working class. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the many challenges we face.