Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his inaugural address that he will focus on rebuilding New York – from bringing back jobs and reviving the economy to gaining the public’s faith and trust in the Empire State once again.
“I want to rebuild this government, rebuild it by bringing back confidence, rebuild it by bringing back integrity, rebuild it by bringing back performance, by bringing back people of talent, by bringing back people of good will, rebuild it by bringing back professionalism and respect and decorum and protocol and collegiality and partnership with the Legislature, and product for the people of this state,” he said.
Cuomo, who spoke for 27 minutes, said his top priorities would include adopting a property-tax cap, creating jobs, making state government the right size for today’s times, and cleaning up ethics in government. He extended an olive branch to lawmakers, saying he would like the executive and legislative branches to work together more successfully than they have in recent years.’
“We have to pass a property-tax cap in the state of New York because working families can’t afford to pay the ever-increasing tax burden,” he said.
Cuomo, 53, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, 56, were both sworn into office late Friday night and officially assumed their new posts at the stroke of midnight. At today’s noon inauguration, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman gave the oath of office to Cuomo, Duffy, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Cuomo said he will present an emergency financial reinvention plan in his State of the State address Wednesday, which he said will be a “blueprint for change” and action. ”Don’t get me wrong. I am not underestimating the severity or the difficulty of the task ahead,” he said, joking that his gray hairs are multiplying just thinking about the state’s problems.
New York faces a $9.2 billion budget deficit in the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins April 1, and combined deficits totaling about $40 billion over the next three years.
Cuomo has pledged to not introduce new taxes as a way of closing the gap. He is expected to propose steep cuts in education and health-care spending, as well as put forward measures aimed at restructuring the size of state government.
The public’s mistrust and lack of faith in their government cannot be underestimated either, Cuomo said. New Yorkers see government as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, and they think officials too often respond to the “whisper of lobbyists” and not the will of the people, he said.
Change will be difficult after decades of decline and billions of dollars in overspending, Cuomo said. Neither Democrats nor Republicans alone created the problems New York currently faces, and neither will they be able to create solutions on their own, he said.
“There is no more waiting for tomorrow and there are no more baby steps, my friends,” he said.