Jan 9 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on
Wednesday proposed dozens of new initiatives for the state,
including new casinos and other measures aimed at helping
upstate areas regain their financial footing after decades of
Cuomo, in his annual State of the State address, proposed
locating up to three casinos upstate to increase tourism and
provide some local property tax relief for struggling cities.
He also said the state would launch new marketing plans that
include duty-free stores for New York-made products and a
national white-water rafting competition.
The plans were just a few of the dozens put forward by Cuomo
in what he said was the most aggressive agenda he has proposed
since taking office in January 2011.
Speaking for more than an hour, Cuomo said he would focus on
upgrading the state's fuel delivery system, subways, and other
infrastructure to prevent multibillion-dollar damage from severe
weather events like Superstorm Sandy, which slammed into the
region on Oct. 29.
He also proposed specific new restrictions on firearms in
the wake of deadly shooting rampages in late 2012 in Newtown,
Connecticut, and Webster, New York.
And he said the state's minimum wage should rise to $8.75 an
hour from the current $7.25.
"We have daunting challenges," he said. "But these
challenges also pose exciting opportunities."
Several of New York's local governments have faced severe
financial struggles after the recession, including Nassau and
Suffolk counties, both on Long Island to the east of New York
But several cities in the northern and western parts of the
state, including Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, have been
losing jobs for many years.
On Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Niagara
Falls to Baa1 from A2, warning that it could cut the credit
rating further if the city loses a legal dispute with the Seneca
Nation over gambling revenue.
Cuomo proposed creating a program that would advise local
governments on how to restructure their finances.
The program would be run jointly by private consultants, the
state's budget division, the attorney general and New York State
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose program to monitor municipal
fiscal distress went into effect this year.