On January 21, 2014 at 1:30PM, Governor Andrew Cuomo will deliver the State of the State address. We will have coverage and our response on the day, but in anticipation of the speech, here’s what we’re anticipating:
- In his inauguration address, Governor Cuomo talked about the importance of growing the economy, creating jobs and reducing the state’s debt. This is of key importance, but we hope that this is not done at the expense of key social safety programs that aim to reduce economic inequality and that support the most vulnerable in our society. Jewish tradition teaches the calls on us to”speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy” (Proverbs 31:9).
- The Governor has announced that as part of his Opportunity Agenda, he will seek to raise the minimum wage to $11.50/hr in New York City and $10.50/hr in the rest of the state. Although New York State currently has a higher minimum wage ($8/hr) than the federal average ($7.25/hr), it is still not a living wage. This has long been an issue of high importance for RJV, and will be critical to ameliorating economic inequality.
- Education remains a key issue for the governor and for RJV. With the implementation of the universal Pre-K program in New York, there might be more such initiatives coming from Albany. We know the importance of a high-quality public school system, and would support measures that aim to improve the public schools. Last legislative session, RJV opposed tax credits for religious educational institutions. While we recognize the importance of religious education, it should to be funded privately, so as not to compromise the public schools and the separation of church and state which we value so highly.
- We were glad to hear Governor Cuomo mention the Women’s Equality Act in his inauguration speech. The Reform Movement has long prioritized women’s equality as the first Jewish denomination to ordain women — and we have long advocated for legislation that would ensure and enhance women’s rights and health. We support a Women’s Equality Act with all ten prongs, which would affirm our state’s commitment to reproductive rights and health.
- Criminal justice reform was mentioned in the speech, but following recent events in Ferguson, MO and in New York City, we anticipate that reform of the criminal justice system, with particular attention to police-community relations could become a centerpiece of the legislative agenda this year.
- In advance of the State of the State, Governor Cuomo released an Opportunity Agenda focusing on economic opportunity and a number of other measures. You can see the full information on the Opportunity Agenda here.
Stay tuned for our response to the State of the State, and for the Governor’s Budget that is anticipated toward the end of January.