Governor Cuomo laid out some lofty goals in his State of the State message, and at the same time spelled out a “tale of two states”.
The governor’s State of the State address revealed New York has been energized and now has a $2 billion surplus. The governor is focused on creating private-sector jobs, and even wants to market New York State’s Start-Up program on an international level. But, what about the public employee? Many state agencies are understaffed, services are being cut in communities, and expensive privatization is on the upswing. We believe the public sector workers we represent, the Governor’s own workforce, should have the same expectation of job growth and stability as those workers in the private sector.
So, while we support the Governor’s initiatives for Universal Pre-K, STEM scholarships and a bond issue to fund technology in our schools, we must ensure that state staffing levels are at a place for the implementation of these initiatives. In addition, PEF agrees with the governor that quality teachers are the backbone of our education system. Yet the one teaching hospital in Brooklyn, SUNY’s Downstate Medical Center, has been under attack by the state for more than two years. The governor talks about affordable housing, and getting young people working who live in poor neighborhoods. That same constituency needs the services of Downstate, and the residents need the opportunity to further their careers by working in a teaching hospital.
Likewise, we support rebuilding our roads and bridges, but will insist these projects are done by the qualified professionals we represent and that these projects do not go out to private contractors.
We support the Governor’s proposal to to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York, but where will the juvenile offenders go as the juvenile justice system has been decimated under this Governor.
PEF was glad to hear the governor wants to create a Re-entry Council for parolees who are transitioning back into society. The union has been hammering the fact that the 40 percent recidivism rate in New York could be reduced by allowing our professional and trained parole officers and counselors to evaluate individuals, instead of relying on the COMPAS system. And, it doesn’t make any sense to close four prisons that operate successful and innovative rehabilitation programs.
We support the issues relating to the Women’s Equality Agenda and we are hopeful that with the legislature we will move towards greater equality for women this year.
We remain concerned with the Governor’s push for inequity in terms of who is responsible for paying taxes in New York State. We do not believe an expansion of Start Up New York will be a positive for the middle class or for those working to attain a middle class lifestyle.
The governor said he needs the public to believe in government and trust it. He said, “Government is limited by a lack of trust.” Trust should be mutual and the governor should start putting more stock in his public employees. He said New York is special because it’s about people and the way we treat each other. He should set an example by treating the public employees as well as he does the private ones.