Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Lake Placid on Wednesday to push the three initiatives of his “People First” agenda: a property-tax cap, ethics reform, and gay marriage.
Cuomo delivered a polished speech, with graphics, to a packed room in the brand-new Conference Center at Lake Placid and received loud applause for all three causes.
Property-tax cap. Cuomo said property taxes for years have been rising faster than inflation. He proposes to cap property-tax hikes to 2 percent a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. It would take a supermajority vote of the taxpayers or a local legislative body to exceed the cap. “New York has no economic future as the tax capital of the nation,” Cuomo said.
Ethics reform. Cuomo said scandals and corruption in state government have disgraced the state. He proposes measures requiring legislators and lobbyists to disclose their relationships and establishing an independent entity to enforce ethics rules. He scoffed at legislators’ claims that they can monitor themselves. “Self-policing is an oxymoron,” he said.
Gay marriage. The governor said New York State—once a progressive state—lags behind other states, such as Vermont and Iowa, in permitting gays to marry. Just as interracial marriages won acceptance decades ago, so gay marriage will be seen in the future as a basic right. “We will look back and say we can’t believe there were states that didn’t allow gay people to marry just because they were gay.”
Click here to read the Adirondack Daily Enterprise‘s account of Cuomo’s visit.
After the speech, Cuomo met with a dozen or so reporters to take questions. Most of the questions were about his agenda, but I managed to slip one in about land acquisition. I asked how he felt about state land purchases in the Adirondacks and in particular about the pending purchases of Follensby Pond and former Finch, Pruyn properties.
Unfortunately, the governor did not reveal much in his answer. Here it is in its entirety (thanks to Chris Morris of WNBZ for providing the audio clip):
“Conservation is very important to our efforts and our entire environmental program; it’s important to the Park. You then have a question on the specific purchase—this purchase, this land here at this cost, at this time—and that’s a case-by-case determination.”
Local officials have called on the state to back out of commitments to purchase the Follensby and Finch, Pruyn properties. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, has indicated that it intends to go forward in adding these lands to the forever-wild Forest Preserve.
Click the link below to hear Cuomo’s answer to my question.