This coming Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo will be delivering his third State of the State Address at 1:30 in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. There has been much speculation over the plans he will lay out for the state over the next year given the impact of Hurricane Sandy and some controversial remarks the governor made on air about gun control measures. Governor Cuomo is also taking in suggestions from the New NY Education Reform Commission that submitted a preliminary report last week.
The Governor created the Moreland Commission last year to investigate the response of LIPA and National Grid to Hurricane Sandy. The commission has held several hearings but had to postpone their last two due to poor weather conditions. The commission is set to release a report of their findings in the coming weeks.
The Moreland Commission was very critical of LIPA and National Grid’s poor communication and failure to update the power grid before Hurricane Sandy, as well as their poor response to restoring power to Long Island in its aftermath.
Governor Cuomo has been pairing up with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to push Congress in passing a disaster relief package to aid New York and New Jersey residents in their efforts to rebuild.
The Governor released a statement in which he praised the House of Representatives for their passage of an initial aid package. The Governor pressed on saying, “It is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster aid bill. We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy."
Governor Cuomo is also expected to address the need for further Gun Control measures in New York State. The governor caused some controversy when he stated on Albany’s Talk 1300 Radio station that, “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option. Keep your gun but permit it.”
Senator Jeffrey Klein (D- Bronx), who brokered a power deal with Senator Dean Skelos (R- Nassau) to alternate the Senate Presidency every two weeks, met with Governor Cuomo this past week to discuss, “pass[ing] one of the toughest gun laws in the nation.”
Senator Skelos seems has indicated that he is open to gun control measures to prevent mentally-ill people from purchasing firearms. Kendra’s Law, a piece of legislation enacted to prevent such a scenario, is on the table to be expanded and made permanent. “We are seeing more and more horrific stories about what can happen when someone with a severe mental illness, who poses a danger to themselves and others, doesn’t receive the proper treatment. Not only should this issue be a part of our discussions related to gun safety, but it must be part of any three-way agreement on laws to increase public safety and prevent the kind of senseless violence and death we’ve seen in the past month,” Skelos stated.
Education reform is also expected to be a prominent topic in the State of the State Address. The New NY Education Reform Commission in its report released last week gave suggestions to improve New York’s education system. The twenty-five member commission has held eleven hearings and heard testimony from over three-hundred teachers, students and administrators. The recommendations included all-day kindergarten for needy children, longer school days and school years, recruiting “non-traditional teachers” as well as raising GPA requirements and standards in schools for education and better use of technology within the classrooms.
The governor indicated his frustration with what he called the bureaucracy, saying, “The education bureaucracy has been running the education program and the students got lost.”