January 21, 2015
CONTACT: Morris Peters


Today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo presented his “2015 Opportunity Agenda” at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The Governor’s agenda is designed to restore economic opportunity, improve and reform our education system, and restore the public’s confidence and trust in our justice system. This plan is a bold and comprehensive package of legislative reforms, state actions, and public investments that will increase opportunity for all New Yorkers and keep the State moving forward.

The Governor’s full 2015 Opportunity Agenda policy book is available here, and the corresponding presentation is available here.


Proposal #1: Cut small business taxes from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, accounting for 43 percent of private sector employment and 35 percent of private sector wages in the State. To support the growth of this critical sector of our economy, the Governor proposes reducing the net income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over a three year period for small businesses that file under Article 9-A. This rate will be the lowest net income tax rate for small businesses since 1917 and comes on the heels of more than $500 million in tax cuts for small businesses that the Governor has already accomplished. More information is available here.

Proposals #2 & 3: Pass $1.7 billion in property tax relief for homeowners and renters

Over the last few decades, property taxes in New York have risen to historic levels, causing many families to question whether they can afford to buy a home because of the tax burden it would add. To restore economic opportunity statewide, we must continue to provide real tax relief for middle and lower income families struggling under the crushing weight of property taxes.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a Real Property Tax Credit for households with incomes below $250,000 and tax burdens that exceed six percent of their income. The specific amount of the credit a household receives is determined on a progressive income scale, so that New Yorkers with the highest tax burdens and lowest income levels will receive the greatest amount of relief. Under this program, 1.3 million New Yorkers will save on average of nearly $1,000 per year. More information is available here.

The Governor’s tax relief proposal also includes a renters credit, based on the assumption that a significant portion of annual gross rent is attributed to property taxes. The credit is available to taxpayers at incomes up to $150,000 when the amount attributed to property taxes exceeds six percent of their income. This will ensure equity and fairness for approximately one million New Yorkers who – while not owning property – are still burdened by the high property tax rates that have characterized New York State for decades. Average renters will see annual savings of $400 under this program.

Proposal #4: Modernize JFK, LGA, Stewart and Republic Airports

New York’s airports are the gateways to the state, region, and the nation. John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia alone host an estimated 80 million travelers per year, supporting approximately 350,000 jobs, $18 billion in wages, and more than $50 billion in economic activity. However, both are consistently rated among the worst airports in the country in terms of design and overall passenger experience. Last year, the Governor launched a Master Plan Design Competition to reimagine LaGuardia and JFK and established a seven-member panel with expertise in business, planning and the local community, to advise him and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on the top airport redesigns.

LaGuardia Airport is New York’s primary domestic air gateway, serving nearly 27 million passengers annually. For years travelers, businesses, and airport employees have called for improved accessibility to LaGuardia. In addition to modernizing airport facilities, the State will also improve access by creating an Air-Train to LaGuardia that directly connects to the subway and Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point Station. The AirTrain will be constructed by the Port Authority and the MTA at an estimated cost of $450 million. Renderings of the AirTrain line can be viewed here.

Proposal #5: Propose making Republic and Stewart Airports tax-free zones through START-UP NY

The Governor has directed the Port Authority and Empire State Development to grow cargo capacity at Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley through design of a regional cargo distribution hub. The Department of Transportation has issued a Request for Information (RFI) in conjunction with Empire State Development to identify a new operator for Republic Airport on Long Island. To induce economic development in and around these airports, the Governor proposes that both be designating tax-free sites through the START-UP NY initiative.

Proposal #6: Build New Metro-North Stations in the Bronx and Extend Access to Penn Station

Metro-North access to Penn Station will not only enhance transit between New York City and the surrounding area, but it will strengthen the region’s resiliency in the face of future storms. The Penn Access project will provide new rail service to underserved and growing portions of the Bronx to the West Side of Manhattan and to growing jobs centers in Westchester and beyond. The State will build four new stations in the Bronx – Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point – to extend rail access to over 93,000 residents living near the stations. The project will also serve one of the largest concentrations of medical facilities in the United States at the Morris Park station. The cost of the new line and stations are less than $1 billion, with the State investing $250 million of that funding.

Proposal #7: Invest $150 million to construct vertical parking structures at strategic locations on Long Island and Westchester

To help alleviate congestion due to area growth, the State will invest in the development of vertical parking facilities at the Ronkonkoma and Nassau Hub locations on Long Island, and at Lighthouse Landing in Tarrytown, Westchester County. These investments will ensure that real estate currently utilized primarily for parking can be re-developed for mixed use – spurring investment in retail and residential developments - to help strengthen those local communities and their economies. The State will invest $150 million to help offset the cost of the parking facilities.

Proposal #8: Invest in the New NY Bridge and stabilize the NYS Thruway

Governor Cuomo proposes to invest $1.3 billion in the State Thruway system to keep tolls down and allow for critical repair and maintenance, support the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge and alternative transit options.

In addition, $750 million will be strategically invested into the Department of Transportation’s network of roads and bridges statewide to ensure that businesses can grow and create jobs.

Proposal #9: Ensure statewide high-speed broadband access by the end of 2018

Governor Cuomo has set an ambitious goal to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-speed broadband service by the end of 2018. In order to accomplish this, the Governor has proposed launching a $500 million statewide broadband program that leverages at least an additional $500 million in private resources to create the New NY Broadband Program. The program will incentivize private sector providers to expand high-speed broadband access in underserved and unserved communities. This is the largest and most ambitious state investment in universal broadband deployment in the country. More information is available here.

Proposal #10: Launch another $110 million round of NYSUNY2020 and NYCUNY2020, and a $50 million continued investment in START-UP NY

SUNY2020 and CUNY2020 are challenge grant programs designed to simultaneously strengthen academic programs at the State’s public colleges and universities while spurring economic growth at specific campuses and in nearby communities. The programs provide incentive for capital development on and around SUNY and CUNY campuses. We must continue to fuel this enterprise with additional capital investment by extending SUNY2020 and CUNY2020 with another round of funds to ensure that our colleges and universities have the facilities and tools needed to accelerate the growth of our expanding economy.

START-UP NY leverages the strengths of New York’s higher education institutions by encouraging businesses to take advantage of research and development capabilities, academic programming, and job training initiatives that are part of the state’s college campuses. While the program is still in its early stages, START-UP NY has already driven over $98 million in new investment, and resulted in the creation or retention of more than 2,100 new jobs.

College and university leaders play a critical role in the quality of the public/private partnerships between new START-UP NY companies and the host institutions. Therefore, Governor Cuomo proposes that SUNY and CUNY provide financial incentives for presidents who provide proven leadership resulting in commercialization of research.

Proposal #11: Double the New York State Venture Capital Fund

The New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund, proposed by Governor Cuomo, was established to support technology commercialization in New York by making equity investments in high-growth technology companies that leverage the state’s industrial and cluster strengths. Governor Cuomo proposes doubling the fund to $100 million from the current $50 million in order to increase its impact in translating good ideas into economic opportunity and jobs. The increased funding will target a portion of its investments in companies associated with START-UP NY, Hotspots, and the proposed Regional Economic Cluster Program.

Proposal #12: Align community colleges with the Regional Economic Development Councils

It has been more than 60 years since the State first established the operations and organizational structure of our 30 SUNY community colleges. The model emerged as an innovative way to train the workforce for the post-war economy, but we know that what was innovative in 1946 is often no longer innovative today. We need to better align the activities of the colleges in each region and ensure that they remain true to their mission while ensuring better student outcomes.

To foster this new approach, SUNY will create nine regional planning councils ensuring that the 29 community colleges outside New York City cooperate with the other colleges within the nine economic development regions of the state and that the colleges, along with stakeholders from other State agencies, local government and business and industry in a region are working together. Under this structure, multiple colleges in one region will come together under a regionally assembled Council. The Chair of each Council will be one of the constituent college presidents who will serve on a rotating basis and the work of the council will be overseen by SUNY. These councils will set program development, enrollment and transfer goals on a regional basis and submit an annual plan to SUNY. This will limit competition by colleges for students within a region, better align education and training program offerings to regional economic development goals and activities, and improve student outcomes.

Proposal #13: Continue the progress of the Regional Economic Development Councils

In 2011, Governor Cuomo established ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) to develop long-term regional strategic economic development plans. Since then, the REDCs have awarded over $2.9 billion in State funding through a competitive process to spur job creation based on regional priorities. This new strategy has resulted in 150,000 new or retained jobs in New York.

To keep this progress moving forward, the Governor proposes continuing his regional economic development strategy with a fifth round of the REDC awards, allocating $150 million to fund regional priority projects and $70 million in State tax credits.

Proposal #14: Launch a $1.5 billion Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition

This competition will replicate the successful Buffalo Billion initiative to help further Upstate New York’s economic recovery. Seven regions are eligible to compete for one of three $500 million upstate revitalization funds: Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. Projects exhibiting region-wide impact will be made a priority and should focus on strengthening critical infrastructure, revitalizing communities, bolstering workforce development, growing tourism, and improving quality of life. More information is available here.

Proposal #15: Increase the Environmental Protection Fund to $172 million

In the 2015-16 Executive Budget, the Governor proposes to raise the Environmental Protection Fund to $172 million dollars, an increase of 28 percent since he took office. The $10 million increase will support increases in fourteen categories, including land conservation, stewardship, and invasive species control and prevention. The increase includes a new sub-allocation for capacity grants to State Parks friends’ groups.

Proposals #16-18: Propose a $50 million Farm Preservation Fund to expand and protect agriculture in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley

With an investment of $50 million the Governor will launch two strategic farm preservation initiatives designed to ensure that farms remain intact and vibrant for generations to come.

Southern Tier Farm Initiative

The Southern Tier region is a historically important agricultural area of vast potential for growth. With abundant water resources and high quality soils, agriculture in the Southern Tier region is poised to boom. The Governor will make available $30 million dollars to help landowners maintain, develop and grow farm, agricultural and related businesses.

Hudson Valley Farm Initiative

The Hudson Valley Region is a key agricultural hub in New York State. More than 5,300 farms are spread across 730,000 acres. Within a 150 mile range from Manhattan, an astounding 18 percent of the 11 county region is farmland. The region’s proximity to New York City and other key population centers has long made the region attractive for farming. The region provides the vast majority of food to New York City farmer’s markets, but the potential is even greater. New York City estimates that there is at least $600 million of unmet need for regionally produced food. To help meet this and other demands, the Governor will launch a strategic initiative to protect farmland, agriculture and related businesses in the Hudson Valley by making $20 million dollars available to purchase farmland conservation easements and ensure farming’s future in the valley.

Proposal #19: Launch 76West, a clean energy business competition in the Southern Tier

New York State is rapidly establishing itself as a national leader in homegrown clean energy innovation and investment. To advance and accelerate this progress, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will launch 76West, the first-of-its-kind $20 million clean energy business competition to bring new jobs to the Southern Tier. The competition will take advantage of the region’s abundant natural resources, a burgeoning advanced manufacturing sector, reliable research and tech-transfer capabilities, as well as business training and improvement programs already in place.

This exciting competition will attract promising investment and innovative ideas from around the world to the region. As part of the competition, entrepreneurs and companies will be challenged to present their ideas and compete for funding, technical assistance, and other services to help turn their proposals into real opportunities. 76West is a win-win for both entrepreneurs and the region, providing important capital to the winners of the competition and stimulating new investment in the Southern Tier.

Proposal #20: Invest $65 million in ports and rail hub infrastructure

In order for the state to continue undertaking transformative infrastructure projects, Governor Cuomo will provide $65 million for enhanced infrastructure funding in New York State. Funding will support a statewide initiative to finance large-scale, complex infrastructure projects across the State and mobilize innovative project delivery methods, including design-build and public private partnerships. The state will provide resources as follows:

  • $40 million to the Port of Oswego to link with the Port of New York and creating additional intermodal rail yards in Syracuse and Binghamton. Such improvements will reduce truck traffic on downstate highways, increase existing export activity, build small and medium sized enterprise export capacity in upstate, and expand efforts of regional service providers.
  • $15 million for the Port of Albany for enhancements to ensure Upstate New York is ready to handle the projected increase in volume of containerized cargo resulting from the Panama Canal expansion of 2016. The State’s investments will support improvements to the Port’s southern dock to expand shipping capacity and serve grain operations.
  • $10 million to the Port of Ogdensburg for improvements to the port’s facilities and equipment, including harbor deepening to accommodate larger ships and expanded grain and salt storage.

Proposal #21: Invest $50 million to transform our State Fairgrounds into a year-round, premier multi-use facility

It has been over one hundred years since the New York State Fair embarked on a transformative capital project. It was 1909 when the first of the major buildings were completed as a part of this development. This year we lay the groundwork for the next century of a new, dynamic State Fair, one that will support the economy of Central New York, showcase New York food and agriculture and revitalize Onondaga County in an unprecedented way. Through a $50 million investment we will transform the New York State Fair into a premier multi‐use facility by enhancing the fairgrounds and surrounding community to create a world‐class entertainment and tourism destination, making this the greatest State Fair in the Country and providing enhanced economic activity for decades to come.

Proposal #22: Spend $1.5 million to purchase land for training and $25 million for improvements along Route 26

Fort Drum is one of New York’s treasures and an institutional anchor for its region. Over 50,000 North Country residents rely on this base for economic stability – just one reason why New York State has and will continue to invest in supporting the base and the men and women who work here. We finished the Fort Drum Connector (I‐781) to make the base more economically viable. We built over 700 units of affordable housing. We turned a coal plant into Fort Drum’s ReEnergy Black River facility, creating jobs and renewable energy for the entire region. And we’re not done yet. We will do all we can to ensure Fort Drum remains a strong fixture in New York and a worthy home of the 10th Mountain Division.

Given the importance of Fort Drum to both the economy and our national defense efforts, the State will make a strategic investment of $1.5 million to purchase over 1,300 acres of land to enhance training efforts as well as $25 million to continue moving forward with long discussed improvements to Route 26 within the Fort.

Proposal #23: Continue to bring international attention to Upstate New York with our challenges and $25 million investment in our “I LOVE NY” campaign

New York continues to attract visitors from around the world. As an economic engine, tourism directly supports nearly 900,000 jobs and generates $59.2 billion in direct spending in New York State. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership the state has tripled support for the tourism industry with measures including a $45 million tourism campaign.

To continue driving our tourism economy Upstate and elsewhere, the Governor will commit $25 million to the existing I LOVE NY marketing campaign and will also host another round of his Governor’s Challenges with winter and summer events in the Adirondacks, a fishing tournament in the Finger Lakes, and two wine cups—one in the Finger Lakes and one on Long Island.

Proposal $24: Create a $35 million Global NY Export-Import Development Program

Governor Cuomo will launch a $35 million Global NY Development Program to encourage more New York-based companies to export their products to established and emerging markets around the globe. The Global NY Development Program will provide grants and loans to help small- and medium-sized businesses based in the State explore new exporting opportunities or global expansion with financing to grow and compete.

Beginning this year, Governor Cuomo will lead international trade missions to markets including Mexico, Canada, Italy, China, Israel, and Cuba. While five of the six trade missions are to several of New York’s long established trading partners, Cuba is unique. Since 1960, trade and travel to and from Cuba have been largely restricted. Now, the doors to this market of more than 11 million people are being opened to New Yorkers, and New York businesses. In the coming weeks, Governor Cuomo will lead a special trade mission to Cuba to expand opportunities for New York’s businesses across a multitude of sectors.

Proposal #25: Expand the Unemployment Strike Force to the top ten highest areas of unemployment

The Governor believes that all New Yorkers should be able to contribute to the state’s economy, and he demonstrated this commitment in May of 2014 by announcing the creation of an Unemployment Strike Force, a new multi-pronged campaign to target areas of the state with the highest unemployment rate and boost employment. In partnership with Empire State Development, the State Department of Labor, and others, the campaign is designed to strategically focus on areas with the highest unemployment, which in the spring of 2014 were the Bronx, Jefferson, Lewis, and Kings Counties. In the Bronx, the Unemployment Strike Force has helped 4,000 Bronx residents get jobs and unemployment is at its lowest levels since 2008. This targeted and coordinated effort is moving the needle.

The Governor will continue his work to ensure that every New Yorker who wants a job can find one, and proposes to expand the Unemployment Strike Force with $12 million in six additional counties: St. Lawrence, Oswego, Orleans, Montgomery, Franklin and Steuben Counties.

Proposal #26: Create the Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force

Rochester is one of the poorest cities in the nation – a reality that must be changed. Building on the Governor’s 10 point Anti-Poverty Opportunity Agenda and understanding the unique set of needs in Rochester, this new Task Force will partner with local public, private and nonprofit leaders to combat poverty and fight inequality in the city. More information is available here.

Proposals #27-34: Enact an economic mobility agenda to give every New Yorker a chance:

  1. Raise the minimum wage
  2. Combat hunger
  3. Invest in affordable housing and community development
  4. Expand Urban Youth Jobs Program
  5. Increase MWBE business opportunities
  6. Provide student loan relief to graduates with high debt (more information is available here)
  7. Establish the Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services (more information is available here)
  8. Fund a $50 million not-for-profit community development fund


We will pursue an ambitious P-12 agenda:

As of this year, school aid is at its highest level ever and over 65 percent of recent increases were directed to high-need school districts. But New York students are still falling behind:

  • New York lags behind 31 other states in student performance in math on “the nation’s report card”;
  • Barely three in four students graduate from high school on time;
  • The graduation rate achievement gap between Black and Latino students and white students persists, especially when it comes to the percent of students earning Advanced Degree diplomas.
  • Only 38 percent of students who do graduate from high school are college- and career-ready; and
  • Only one-third of students in grades 3-8 scored at the proficient level and above in math and English Language Arts.

It is time for dramatic change and an ambitious P-12 reform agenda that seeks to:

  1. Professionalize teaching, support teachers and increase standards.
  2. Strengthen teacher evaluations.
  3. Reward high performing teachers with performance pay.
  4. Transform the state’s failing schools.
  5. Expeditiously but fairly remove ineffective teachers.
  6. Expand charter schools.
  7. Pass the DREAM Act and ETC.
  8. Extend Mayoral Control.
  9. Continue support for 4-year old Pre-K.
  10. Initiate 3-year old Pre-K.
  11. Launch the NY Mentoring Commission.

Proposal #35: Pay full SUNY or CUNY tuition for the top graduate program candidates who commit to teaching in New York for at least five years

In order to improve the quality of teaching, we must attract the best candidates and elevate respect for the profession. We know that that the single most important in-school factor for a child’s education is a high-quality teacher. We must ensure that our kids have the best teachers they deserve. To incent our highest-achieving students to pursue teaching as a profession, the Governor proposes providing full scholarships for SUNY and CUNY graduate education programs for the top candidates who are New York residents and agree to teach in New York for five years following completion of their degrees.

Proposal #36: To invest in the teaching profession, create a residency program for teachers

Too many teachers enter classrooms at the start of their careers with inadequate practical experience teaching children. A new teacher will have completed coursework focused on education theory but often lacks the skills and experience required to hit the ground running. Good teachers are developed over time and require intensive clinical supervision.

The Governor will create the New York Teacher Residency (NYTR) program – a statewide teacher residency model that will integrate graduate teacher education programs with rich practical classroom experience. The NYTR will weave together Masters coursework with a full year of supervised residency in an eligible school, akin to what we provide to doctors in training.

Proposals #37-41: Strengthen teacher evaluations

Last year, less than one percent of teachers in New York State were rated ineffective, yet our students still lag behind in performance. We need a strong teacher evaluation system that can help school leaders recognize and reward outstanding teachers and identify those who need help to improve.

The Governor proposes changes to the teacher evaluation system to ensure that teachers are recognized and treated as professional people whose skills, strengths and weaknesses are not all interchangeable. To ensure that our teacher evaluation system is real, accurate and fair, Governor Cuomo proposes a series of reforms to simplify and standardize the system:

  1. Instead of two student growth measures, we will eliminate the local measure. In the new system, fifty percent of the score will be based on state tests, or, in the case of teachers in non-tested grades or subjects, a student growth measure that measures one year of academic growth.
  2. The remaining fifty percent of the score will be determined by rigorous observations of the educator in action; of this, thirty-five points will be determined by independent observations and fifteen points will be determined by supervisor observations.
  3. The scoring bands currently used in the tallying of summative ratings vary across the State. Districts set their own cut offs and the 100 point scale encourages backing into a result. We will set the scoring bands for both the student growth measure and the observation portion of the score at the state level.
  4. The law will also state that if a teacher is rated Ineffective in either portion of the score, he or she cannot receive a rating of Effective or Highly Effective.
  5. We propose tenure to be only granted when a teacher achieves five consecutive years of effective ratings.

Proposal #42: Create a $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund to support top teachers

Governor Cuomo will launch a $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund that will encourage excellent teachers to continue to teach in the classrooms where they are needed the most. Highly effective teachers will be eligible for up to $20,000 in annual supplemental compensation through the Teacher Excellence Fund. Eligibility for the Fund will require agreement of both the school district and teachers’ union. Districts will be chosen to participate based on factors that include whether the incentives are designed to encourage highly effective teachers to work in struggling schools.

Proposal #43: Make it easier, fairer and faster to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom

The current teacher discipline and termination system, commonly known as 3020-a hearings, is broken. The hearings are costly and time-consuming for districts, and allow arbitrators to overrule administrators’ determinations of competency and of appropriate remedies. Administrators take on protracted battles that they may or may not win, at great cost to themselves and their school communities, in attempting to eliminate ineffective and incompetent educators in their buildings. The Governor proposes a series of reforms to 3020-a hearings to streamline the hearing process, shift the presumptions, and strengthen evidentiary standards, including:

  1. In the case of a teacher accused of physical or sexual abuse of a child, there will be an expedited hearing with a decision rendered within 60 days. We already have an expedited process for teachers deemed incompetent, but we must also have one for teachers accused of harming children. The teacher alleged to have engaged in abuse will be suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the hearing, and will receive retroactive pay if the hearing officer finds in his or her favor. In addition, a teacher convicted of a violent felony against a child will automatically have his or her teaching certificate revoked.
  2. The Governor proposes easing the legal burden on school districts seeking to remove a teacher that has been rated ineffective two years in a row. Under the new standard, such a teacher would only be able to rebut this strong evidence of incompetence by clear and convincing evidence that the calculation of one the ineffective ratings was fraudulent.
  3. Elimination of the current legal requirement that administrators must attempt to “rehabilitate” teachers who are incompetent or engage in misconduct.
  4. Removal of the requirement that children must testify in person and will allow them to testify via sworn written or video statements.
  5. A clarification to existing law that a non-tenured teacher may be dismissed at any time for any reason.
  6. New legislation that prevents a student from being assigned two ineffective teachers in consecutive school years.

Proposal #44: Implement the Massachusetts Model in New York to transform failing schools

Across New York State, more than 100,000 students are sitting in 178 “priority schools,” defined as schools that (i) are in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide, based on combined ELA and math scores, and are not showing progress in test performance or (ii) have graduation rates that are below 60 percent for the last three years. 77 of these schools have been failing for nearly a decade and 27 have been in the lowest level of accountability status for nearly a decade. Estimates are that at least 250,000 students were enrolled in these 77 schools since they’ve been failing; the bottom 27 schools enrolled at least 64,000.

To ensure that the most chronically underperforming schools in the state improve at a faster rate, the Governor proposes legislation modeled after the Massachusetts education receivership model. When a school fails for three years, a nonprofit, another school district

  1. Overhaul the curriculum.
  2. Override agreements to terminate underperforming staff.
  3. Provide salary incentives to recruit high-performing educators.
  4. Obtain priority over Pre-K, extended learning time, community schools, Early College High Schools, and other State grant programs.

Proposal #45: Give students in failing schools a preference

To provide students in failing schools with additional options in the short-term the Governor will create a preference in the charter school lottery for such students.

Proposals #46 & 47: Add another 100 slots to the charter cap and remove the regional limits

Under current law, the number of charters in New York is capped at 460 and New York City currently has only 24 charters remaining under the cap. In an effort to continue to provide families and students throughout the state with choice and to break down barriers that limit where charter schools can open, the Governor proposes that we increase the cap by 100 and make the overall cap statewide instead of artificially restricting it by region.

Proposal #48: Propose “anti-creaming” legislation to ensure that charters are providing opportunities for high-needs populations

To ensure that charter school student populations reflect the communities that they serve, we will create an “anti-creaming” provision in law that requires charters to submit enrollment rates to SED for Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) students, English Language Learners and students with disabilities multiple times per year during the five-year period in between reauthorizations so the State can better track both enrollment and retention of these students.

Proposals #49 & 50: Pass the $100 million Education Tax Credit for public and private scholarships to promote choice in education – and pass the DREAM Act, with $27 million in this year’s budget to make it a reality

To support private investments from individuals and businesses in educational programs that provide families with choices for their students, Governor Cuomo proposes to create the Education Tax Credit which will allow taxpayers to claim a tax credit for eligible contributions to public schools, school improvement organizations, local education funds and educational scholarship organizations.

Throughout our nation’s history, New York has served as a beacon for immigrants: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the New York City harbor serve as symbols of the central role that the state has played in welcoming immigrants and honoring their contribution to our culture and economy. The Governor strongly believes that the state should continue this tradition by supporting the New York State DREAM Act, which will support the advancement of undocumented immigrants by enabling them to apply for state college tuition assistance.

Proposal #51: Extend mayoral control in New York City and consider the possibility in other cities

New York City has had mayoral control over its public school system since 2002 and it expires in 2015. Governor Cuomo will extend mayoral control in New York City for three years and will consider applications for mayoral control from other cities across the state.

Proposal #52: Maintain investment in statewide universal pre-K for 4-year olds

The State currently spends over $750 million on public pre-K programs for four-year olds, serving over 116,000 students statewide. Governor Cuomo is committing $365 million in funding for full-day four-year old programs for the 2015-2016 school year.

Proposal #53: Invest $25 million in pre-K programs for 3-year olds in high needs districts

Early learning can bridge the achievement gap and provide benefits not only in life’s earliest stages but also in the long term. Studies show that children who participate in high quality early childhood education programs have higher cognitive test scores through age 21, higher academic achievement in both reading and math and were more likely to attend a four-year college and be gainfully employed.

This year, Governor Cuomo will build on our successful investment in four-year-olds by expanding pre-K to three-year-olds in targeted high-need districts. We know that quality learning experiences must start even earlier for children with the greatest needs, and that is why the State will invest $25 million to support new, high quality half-day and full-day pre-k programs for three-year-olds in districts that develop a plan to deliver these services in areas where it can be most beneficial in increasing academic outcomes for students and communities.

Proposal #54: Launch the New York Youth Mentoring Commission

In 1987, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo chaired a committee that established the nation’s first school-based one-to-one mentoring program, the New York State Mentoring Program. This highly successful program screened and trained volunteers and matched them to children in their communities as a way to prevent high school drop-out. Before the program ended in 1995, it successfully connected thousands of our neediest students to a network of highly trained mentors to succeed in school and graduate.

Governor Cuomo will reestablish the State’s commitment to mentoring with the creation of the New York Youth Mentoring Commission, to be chaired pro bono, by Mrs. Cuomo. She will work with private sector and nonprofit partners to identify a cadre of mentors to work with foster children, children in high-need communities and other children in need. This program will allow us to leverage the talent in our communities to guide our kids toward successful outcomes.

Increase in state aid if reforms succeed

Pursuant to the existing formula, State aid to education is scheduled to increase this year by 1.7 percent, or $377 million. The Governor has proposed a bold reform agenda to transform New York’s education system into the best in the nation. These reforms must be in place to ensure that public funding is invested in ways that benefit our children. If the legislature passes these reforms, Governor Cuomo will propose an increase in State support to the highest level ever – an increase of 4.8 percent, or $1.1 billion.


Proposal #55: Continue increased security presence in key areas

Last fall we doubled the National Guard’s presence and significantly increased Port Authority and MTA Police and State Police presence in key areas due to the increase in terrorism-related activity around the globe. Given the recent attacks overseas, we are maintaining our surge levels, which include 300 National Guardsmen and 50 State Police Troopers, backed by a $40 million commitment.

Proposal #56: Conduct a review of our counter-terrorism capacity

As the nature of the terror threats facing New York evolves, we must make sure that our efforts and resources similarly evolve to meet those threats. This requires a comprehensive audit of New York’s existing preparedness and prevention efforts. Such a review requires a knowledge of operations and policy that is rarely found, and that’s why the Governor is calling upon Ray Kelly to lead this effort.

As a life-long New Yorker, the longest serving Commissioner in NYPD history and the leader of the NYPD’s counter-terrorism efforts for over 10 years, Commissioner Kelly is uniquely situated to recognize the threats facing New York and to identify the solutions necessary to confront them. With a comprehensive review conducted by Commissioner Kelly, New York will continue to be ever vigilant in the face of terrorism

Proposal #57: Invest $15 million to open the nation’s first emergency preparedness college

The State will open a new state-sponsored College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity within SUNY. The school will grant advanced degrees in both academic and professional aspects of law enforcement, security, public and international affairs, counterterrorism, emergency management, cybersecurity and forensics.

The school will be the nation’s first homeland security college and will open its doors next year at the University at Albany with a satellite campus in Oriskany.

Proposal #58: Creating a $15 million Statewide Targeted Operations Response Management (STORM) online system to coordinate federal, State and local emergency efforts.

To strengthen and coordinate local emergency response, New York will build a world-class emergency management and response network. The Governor has invested in an array of emergency preparedness initiatives in recent years and now will create one statewide online emergency response system with $50 million to coordinate efforts with local governments. We will train local governments on the system, and create new protocols to ensure efficient and coordinated response.

Proposal #59: Strengthen local governments in state-of-the-art emergency response techniques

In addition to the new response system, we will continue to enhance coordination of efforts with county, city and municipality governments. Recognizing that the local governments bring an intimate knowledge of site to a weather emergency, the Governor has called upon the state’s emergency response experts to create stronger lines of communication with local governments to include their unique insight and expertise, so that we are all better prepared the next time a weather emergency strikes.

Proposal #60: Invest $50 million in new emergency vehicles, snow plows and GPS systems

Recognizing that an effective response to severe weather events calls for more than just training and coordination, New York will continue to invest in critical resources, including versatile emergency vehicles, high-axle vehicles and additional snow plows. We will complement this investment with the implementation of a state-of-the-art GPS system that will actively track these assets in real time, coordinating precise deployments in conjunction with our local partners.


Proposal #61: Pass real campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of money on our government

New York’s laws regarding how campaign funds can be spent are among the most lax in the nation, allowing candidates and former public officials to spend funds on personal expenses with no real connection to candidacy or public office. Under the Governor's reforms, contributions could be used only for expenses that are directly related to elections or public duties. Expenditures for the exclusive personal benefit of the candidate or office-holder would be prohibited and a long list of expressly prohibited expenditures would be memorialized in statute


Proposal #62: Raise the Age

New York is one of only two states in the nation that has no legal authority to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles. “Raise the Age” is a movement advocating for juvenile responses to crimes committed by minors.

Appointed by the Governor in April 2014, the Commission was tasked with formulating an actionable plan to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws, including the “Raise the Age” issue, and developing a comprehensive set of recommendations to make New York a national leader in effective youth justice policy. The Commission recently recommended a comprehensive set of reforms that would change how the justice system treats all youths. They are carefully designed to preserve public safety by maintaining District Attorney control over serious crimes of violence; allow for violent felony offenses given Youthful Offender status to be considered in sentencing if the youth continues to commit such offenses; and provide for the capacity to impose longer sentences for the most egregious crimes of violence. The Commission estimates that, if implemented, these reforms will prevent between 1,500 and 2,400 crimes against people every five years across the State.

Governor Cuomo supports the Commission’s recommendations and will introduce legislation to implement them this legislative session.

Proposal #63: Restore trust between community and law enforcement

Underlying the American dream of economic opportunity is a foundational belief and trust in our justice system. But that belief and trust has been questioned, presenting a problem in both perception and in reality. To restore trust and respect between community and law enforcement the Governor proposes a number of recommendations, which include the following:

  1. Create a statewide Reconciliation Commission to address police/community relations in affected neighborhoods
  2. Recruit more minorities into law enforcement.
  3. Obtain and make publicly available race and ethnic data on summonses, misdemeanors, and other police actions statewide.
  4. Fund replacement vests, body cameras and bullet-proof glass for patrol cars in high crime areas.
  5. District Attorneys may issue a grand jury report or a letter of fact in police cases where an unarmed civilian dies and the case is not presented to the grand jury or the grand jury fails to indict.
  6. The Governor will appoint an Independent Monitor (a retired judge, for example) to review police cases where an unarmed civilian dies and the case is not presented to the grand jury, or the grand jury fails to indict. In those cases, the monitor can recommend to the Governor the appointment of a special prosecutor.
  7. The Independent Monitor will have access to police files and grand jury information, which will be protected.

Proposal #64: Stand up for New York’s women – pass the Women’s Equality Act

The Governor remains deeply committed to advancing sweeping legislative reform to overcome discrimination against women. In years past, New York has served as a model for gender equality and fairness. Governor Cuomo’s plan will return the State to its rightful place as a national leader on women’s equality. The Women’s Equality Act will:

  1. Achieve pay equity,
  2. Stop sexual harassment in all workplaces,
  3. Remove barriers to remedying discrimination,
  4. End Family Status Discrimination,
  5. Stop housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence,
  6. Stop source-of-income discrimination,
  7. Protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening order-of-protection laws
  8. Strengthen human trafficking laws
  9. Stop pregnancy discrimination once and for all, and
  10. Protect a woman’s freedom of choice.

Proposal #65: Expand SUNY Sexual Assault Policy statewide

In 2014, Governor Cuomo directed the SUNY Board of Trustees to adopt a uniform and comprehensive sexual assault policy that protects the safety and rights of their students. The policy was adopted by all 64 SUNY campuses in December, and this year Governor is proposing legislation that will extend the policy to private colleges, ensuring protection for all of New York’s more than one million colleges students. More information is available here.

Proposal #66: Provide assistance to our homeless

The homeless population in New York is 80,590, making up 14 percent of the nationwide homeless population and is the second highest homeless population in the country, according to a 2014 HUD homeless census. The State currently spends approximately $780 million on homeless service programs administered or overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, including emergency homeless shelters, the development of new homeless housing, homelessness prevention activities, and rental assistance.

Continuing this support, Governor Cuomo proposed to invest an additional $403 million in homeless services over the next several years, including $220 million for New York City rental assistance and other programs that address the City’s growing homeless population.