City & State: Cuomo's Agenda Faces Latino Pushback

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Some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s second-year agenda does not sit well with a crucial minority constituency.

Members of the Hispanic Federation pushed back gently but firmly against it when Darryl Towns, the former Brooklyn assemblyman who now heads the Homes and Community Renewal agency, delivered a version of the governor’s State of the State address to them in lower Manhattan last week. ---

“I hate to be the party pooper,” one of them said as soon as Towns finished speaking, “but the balanced budget was done on the backs of poor women, especially women of color. I work with domestic violence survivors. Our budget was decimated.”

It was the start of a frank half-hour exchange between Towns and about 30 leaders from Latino nonprofits. Many of them knew him from his Assembly days and asked him to explain how Cuomo could justify proposals they don’t like – from budget cuts to education reforms, from increased gambling to decreased health spending.

“Now that I’ve become a commissioner, I have not moved to Connecticut. I still live in East New York and Cypress Hills. So every day, I am seeing those challenges,” Towns replied. “It is a guide. It is the governor’s plan that has some areas to tweak. But also, he has sent me here in order to have this dialogue so that we can go back and give some of this word.”

In the week after his State of the State address, Cuomo sent cabinet members to business, labor and community groups around New York to deliver a version of the speech – though [as Observer blogger Colin Campbell noted], the version Towns delivered did not include Cuomo’s slides of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos as children.

To read the full report from City & State editor Adam Lisberg, click [here]. 

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