Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address Wednesday offered some ideas that should be of particular interest to people living in our area.
Some of the proposals he mentioned would affect rural upstate New Yorkers living in communities facing economic challenges.
For example, he proposed a program he calls Market NY, which would aim to bolster upstate economic growth. The program would include a casino gaming plan that would put up to three casinos in upstate New York and use gaming revenue for education funding and local property tax relief. Market NY also would create duty-free "Taste-NY" stores to promote New York-grown products and a $5 million advertising competition for the best regional marketing plans to give counties an incentive to work together.
For distressed communities, the governor proposed the development of community schools, which would offer education, health, employment, after-school and other support services.
He proposed a Job Linkage Program that would link community colleges with employers to provide training for specific jobs, and he offered workers' compensation and unemployment reforms to save businesses $1.3 billion.
Local residents may find some of the governor's proposals controversial. Among them:
He proposed tightening the state's assault weapons ban and enacting other gun-control measures.
He wants to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour and decriminalize "open view" possession of certain amounts of marijuana.
He proposed a competitive grant program for schools that extend learning time by at least 25 percent. He also wants to create a full-day kindergarten program and start a "bar exam" that teachers must pass in order to receive certification.
The governor came out with a lot of interesting and ambitious ideas Wednesday. Some of them are certain to spark spirited debate while others may be too expensive to put into place.
We encourage local residents to express their views on the proposals, especially ones that would affect them directly.