ALBANY — Laying out his election-year agenda, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Wednesday for corporate tax cuts to spark the sluggish upstate economy and promised to promote a $2 billion borrowing plan to pay for computer and technology improvements for schools.
In his fourth State of the State address, the first-term Democrat also urged the adoption of a full-day pre-kindergarten requirement without saying how that specific proposal would be funded. Cuomo also called for a plan that would send $20,000 bonuses to highly effective school teachers.
The “Smart Schools” plan to fund technology upgrades to classrooms would have to be approved by state voters in the form of a $2 billion bond act that would be on the ballot this fall, he said.
“There are some schools where the most sophisticated piece of electronics equipment is the metal detector that you walk through on the way to the classroom,” he said. “That is just wrong in the state of New York.”
Cuomo decried the fact that New York has the dubious distinction of having the highest property taxes in the nation. He suggested the reason is “we have too many local governments, and we’ve had them for too long.”
He did not provide any detailed advice as to how New Yorkers could consolidate the thousands of local taxing jurisdictions. Recent history has suggested that consolidating local governments can be an uphill battle, with voters in the village of Richfield Springs rejecting a proposal to dissolve the village government last year, and a similar plan being blocked in the village of Cobleskill.
Cuomo took credit for eliminating what he said was a $10 billion deficit when he first came into office in 2011 and producing what he said is now a $2 billion surplus.
“We were on the precipice of an abyss,” Cuomo said. “We changed the direction of the state for the better.”