Last Wednesday, Governor Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address, which kicks off the state’s 2018 legislative session.  [Read the Governor’s press release, the booklet that accompanied his speech and the 23 proposals he announced prior to the speech.]

Read Unshackle Upstate’s response here.

The Governor outlined a wide-ranging 2018 agenda that includes some new and some recycled initiatives. As is typical, many of the agenda items were light on details. Many of the initiatives the Governor presented are expected to be included in his Executive Budget proposal, which will be submitted to the Legislature in mid-January.

The backdrop is that the state is facing a projected $4.4 billion budget deficit, while the Governor is up for re-election in November and appears to be positioning himself for a possible presidential run in 2020.

Some of the new initiatives the Governor announced in his speech include:

  • the state will sue the federal government to try to block the new federal tax law, which no longer allows a deduction for state and local taxes in excess of $10,000, and he plans to lead an effort to “repeal and replace” the federal tax law;
  • proposing to prohibit confidentiality clauses in sexual harassment or assault settlements brokered by public entities; standardizing the harassment reporting processes; and require companies doing business with the state to disclose this information;
  • having the state, through Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, bring a lawsuit against pharmacy companies “for breaching their legal duties” by failing to adequately monitor and detect suspicious prescription orders for opioids;
  • calling on the New York State Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership;
  • reauthorizing the state’s MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise) Program, and expanding it to “all state funded contracts”;
  • ending cash bail unless the accused is a flight risk or charged with a violent crime; and
  • $100 million to support “a continuum of effective prevention, diversion, treatment, re-entry and supervision services for juveniles.

Without providing any details, the Governor said that he may propose shifting the state from income taxes to a payroll tax, which remain deductible against federal income taxes. He said that his plan will be unveiled when he presents his 2018 budget proposal later this month.

Any overhaul of the state’s system of tax collection could have massive implications for virtually every state resident and business. This is an issue we plan to keep a close eye on as the state budget process advances.

New York State is facing a number of challenges that we hope lawmakers will take action on in 2018, including addressing its multi-billion dollar deficit (which it should do without raising taxes); reforming regulations that drive up the cost of construction and development; and promoting private-sector job growth. Read more about how state lawmakers can get New York State back on track in our 2018 Advocacy Agenda.