Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at length about the health and prospects for New York State during his State of the State Address earlier today. There will be no lack of analysis, and spin, over all the points brought up by the Governor but there were several items that should be commented on.
Throughout the speech by Gov. Cuomo there was an emphasis to highlight the bi-partisanship and common decency of all New Yorkers in dealing with the various challenges that have faced the State in recent years. The 100- and 500-year floods, Hurricane Sandy, the shooting of firemen while they actively are trying to save lives and property. These are all things that every New Yorker can rally to support and defend.
What some New Yorkers may debate though, is if the State should become the progressive capital of the nation. This was a point that Gov. Cuomo pushed several times, as a goal the State should try to attain. In fact many residents might argue that over the past 6 decades New York has tried to accomplish just that thing, with a result of a loss in population and business every decade and Census.
In addition, laying claim of the State as a bastion of progressive values may be a great idea in New York City - which is the main cause of the State being a safe haven to Democrats - but Upstate New York leans Conservative (5.5. million Democrats vs. 3.1 million Republicans as of 2006 for the State). In declaring a goal that a good deal of New Yorkers find to be anathema, the Governor may have done nothing but stir a hornet's nest of opposition.
Another subject sure to raise eyebrows at the least, was gun control/restriction. Gov. Cuomo stated,
"And I say to you forget the extremists. It's simple. No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs ten bullets to kill a deer."
While the quote is absolutely true, it is anything but simple. Assault rifle bans are a gun restriction that affects law abiding citizens - criminals don't follow the law. But this hits upon a far larger argument.
As we have been researching and continuing to work on our on-going series of articles on gun control and restriction bans, we have spoken to elected officials and supporters of both sides of the issue. Both sides do agree that there is no need for assault weapons. But many of the gun restriction supporters have taken that further as Governor Cuomo has. His quote infers that since there is not a need, the public should not have a Right to choose.
To that we would challenge, there is no need for a car that can travel at 100 mph, well above the 55 speed limit. Nor is there a need for $500 jeans, or to live in a house. As much as life is about needs, in America there is also the freedom to choose to have more than just what is essential for life. It is one of the key factors for innovation and creativity. While we agree that there may be no need, if the Government can arbitrarily choose to limit the public to needs alone, what else is at risk of being denied choice?
Further we have heard the argument that since there is no need, no one should have the ability to own an assault weapon, or high capacity magazines. This is of course for the public good. It has been explained to us that in limiting, as an example, magazines to 7 bullets instead of 10 or 15 that this will give more time for heroic action and intervention. We countered that we know of marksmen - using a rifle - that can fire 10 rounds from two 5 round cartridges in 47 seconds accurately at 500 yards, and the time to change cartridges was about 2 seconds. Handguns just allow a person to pick up a second weapon instead of changing clips. We received no reply about that. But the position did not change for those that support a restriction we spoke with.
We are in agreement that limits must exist for weapons, for the common good. But to proclaim that a restriction is the only option denies freedom, flies in the face of the reality of the nature of the danger remaining, and directly affects predominately only those that have followed the law to-date.
The last point we want to address is the insistence of Gov. Cuomo on the status of New York State fiscally. In listening to the speech one might think that the trend of the past 60 years has reversed. That jobs and business are entering the State en masse. That the budgetary problems have ended. Such a vision sounds exemplary, but is false.
9 days into 2013 and already the current debt level is over $330 billion. More than 27% of the GDP of the State would be needed to just resolve that debt, which does not address pension needs or interest going forward. While $256 billion has been raised from revenues (taxes), over $311 billion has been spent by the State and Governor Cuomo is looking to create more programs (focused on education mostly) to spend even more.
As of October 2012 the Tax Foundation ranked New York #50 of all States for business climate. The combination of unemployment insurance/property/individual taxes are the culprit, and while property taxes are capped in how much they increase further it does not resolve the other issues. As a side note, California which many consider the progressive capital of the nation, was ranked #48.
CNBC ranked New York #34 overall - dead last in business friendliness (#50), with the third worst business costs (#47), third worst cost of living (#47), though the State did rank #1 in education and technology innovation. Just as Gov. Cuomo stated the problem is not creating the technology, its keeping companies here to develop that technology and the State is doing little to encourage that, apparently.
The fact that the Governor wants to raise the minimum pay to $8.75 only exasperate the problem as it's an increased cost, to satisfy the progressive desires of a few, that smaller businesses cannot afford and larger companies have already left the State to avoid.
In total, the State of the State 2013 was a long (78 minutes) wish list of progressive ideas, wrapped in a hope of bi-partisan acceptance that is exactly the same kind of pipedreams that have resulted in debt and mass exodus for 60 years.