Local Politicians React to State of the State

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We asked the state senators and assembly members from our neighborhoods to respond to Gov. Cuomo's State of the State address Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State speech, addressing a population that had recently been shaken by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the unthinkable violence of the school shooting in nearby Newton, Conn. The governor proposed a bevy of sweeping legislative changes to bolster the state's economy, strengthen the public education system, and crack down on guns and assault weapons. We spoke to state legislators from Manhattan to find out how the governor's proposals might affect New York City residents and how these leaders plan to follow through on these important issues. Sen. Liz Krueger, Upper East Side "I was thrilled to see Gov. Cuomo commit to moving key items in my own legislative agenda, especially a comprehensive women's equality package including several key measures I've sponsored or supported. "Fair pay, workplace fairness, reproductive health, preventing domestic violence-these are priorities I've fought for since I joined the Senate, and I welcome Gov. Cuomo's leadership and hope he can help us break through the deadlock in Albany that has prevented real action on too many of these issues. "I was happy to see Gov. Cuomo continue his commitment to passing a comprehensive gun control package including a stronger assault-weapons ban." Assembly Member Micah Kellner, Upper East Side "Gov. Cuomo put forward a progressive agenda to make New York a model for equality, innovation, education and technology. I look forward to working with him and his administration to implement the toughest assault weapons ban in the nation, enact meaningful campaign finance reform, provide equality for women and raise the minimum wage for working New Yorkers. "Encouraging new businesses to thrive in New York City is something I have long promoted as the sponsor of an Angel Investor Tax Credit, which provides tax incentives to individuals who invest in startups so that companies that develop in New York remain in New York. The governor's proposed "innovation hot spots"-tax free zones to ensure new technologies developed in New York are commercialized here-is an exciting idea, which could not come at a better time as the new Cornell-Technion campus breaks ground on Roosevelt Island." Assembly Member Dan Quart, Upper East Side "I support the governor's broad thinking on education issues. The governor's competitive grant program will allow public schools the opportunity to reimagine their school days with more instructional time. Families who are looking for a longer school day or year will be able to find a public school that can provide those things. "I applaud the governor for taking a strong stand against gun violence in New York. I support a policy of using the state's buying power to curb the sale of semi-automatic machine guns. As the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to contacts for firearms for the New York State Police, Gov. Cuomo can and should leverage the state's buying power against gun manufacturers who have prioritized profits over the safety of New Yorkers." Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Upper West Side, Manhattan Valley,Washington Heights "As the sponsor of legislation to raise the minimum wage, I was heartened to hear Gov. Cuomo express his support for this initiative, which will help millions of New Yorkers rise out of poverty and be able to better make ends meet. "I commend the governor for his commitment to enacting swift gun reform legislation. As the sponsor of legislation to restrict gun sales and strengthen our gun laws, I am pleased to join the governor in calling for strong reform to gun laws that will make New York's the toughest in the nation. "I applaud Gov. Cuomo for his decision to direct $1 billion toward the production and preservation of affordable housing in New York City. "Additionally, I strongly support the governor's call for a Women's Equality Act, ensuring that all women have true equality regardless of gender. "Finally, I also commend Gov. Cuomo for his call to invest in the future, by educating our youth, including a plan for fully funded pre-K." Sen. Brad Hoylman, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, Upper West Side, Midtown/East Midtown, the East Village and Lower East Side "I am heartened by the governor's renewed call for an assault weapons ban and other measures to fix New York's porous gun laws, especially in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook and the spate of gun violence across New York City last summer. The governor's Women's Equality Act, which includes support for pay equity, is a bold effort to end discrimination and inequality based on gender, and I appreciate his strong call for passage of the Reproductive Health Act to protect women's right to choose. I was also pleased to hear his plan to lessen the harm caused by the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and advance campaign finance reform through the public financing of elections. "The creation of a $1 billion affordable housing fund appears promising, although we also need measures to strengthen rent regulation laws, which have been bottled up by special interests for many years. And while I'm pleased to hear of the governor's support for increasing the minimum wage to help address the growing gap between the rich and poor in our state, working families will not see a lasting benefit if we fail to index any increase to inflation." Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, Upper West Side "I was pleased to hear Gov. Cuomo outline an aggressively progressive platform for New York state. While it should not have taken the tragedy of Sandy Hook to begin the long-overdue conversation on guns that we are currently having, I am glad that New York state, which already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, will act to make them tougher. I am eager to cast my vote in the affirmative on a comprehensive package of common-sense gun laws. "During these tough economic times, it is critical that we raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation to help build ladders to the middle class by guaranteeing that hard-working families are paid a fair wage for a day's work. Recognizing the role that gender-based discrimination plays in economic security for women and their families, I was pleased to hear the governor focus on achieving real pay equity in New York state. I am the prime sponsor of legislation that would equalize the pay gap that still exists for women employed in stereotypically female-dominated fields, and look forward to working with the governor to pass this and a number of other reforms to end gender-based discrimination and also violence against women and girls. In addition to pay equity, I am excited that the governor will be seeking passage of the Reproductive Health Act as part of a broader Women's Equality Act, which would focus on protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment and human trafficking." Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Greenwich Village and Tribeca "I'm very excited about the governor's strong position on women's equality. I will be working with a broad coalition to ensure that his agenda on women is passed in the Assembly. In addition, measures to increase the minimum wage and close gun loopholes are crucial." Sen. Daniel Squadron, Lower Manhattan "New Yorkers are crying out for the common sense protections that will help keep our streets and our families safe from gun violence. I've long supported legislation that would close major gaps in our assault weapons ban-including the weapon used in Newtown and Webster. There is simply no reason for civilians to carry these military-style weapons. I applaud the governor for making a tougher assault weapons ban part of his proposal. "In addition, I stand with Senate Democrats, the Assembly and the governor in support of microstamping. Blocking the bill means depriving police of a vital, cost-effective tool to connect shell casings with their guns. It's simply mind-boggling that Senate Republicans would continue to block microstamping and let hundreds of murder and gun violence cases go unsolved each year. "I also applaud the governor for highlighting the in-plain-view marijuana possession statute and the inconsistent way it's enforced. In large parts of our city, entire communities feel like suspects targeted by law enforcement rather than citizens protected by it. The governor's proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in public view would be a critical step toward ending these inequities." Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Lower East Side "As our Lower Manhattan community continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, I commend the governor's call for strengthening our infrastructure, such as subways, and I will continue to join my fellow elected officials to demand that Congress end its delays and release the aid that our residents so desperately need. I was also very pleased that the governor said he would join the Assembly in enacting serious and meaningful gun safety legislation. We in the Assembly have passed comprehensive gun reforms year after year, including bills to strengthen our state's assault weapons ban, require the micro-stamping of shell casings to help police track guns used in crimes, keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and many other common sense measures. As one of our state's leading advocates for universal pre-K, I commend the governor for joining our effort to make greater investments in our children, especially here in New York City."

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