Read the transcript from the web chat with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on September 24, 2011.
Welcome to CitizenConnects, your electronic town hall!
Thanks for joining me for the first on-line chat. I'm at home in Westchester. It's wet and hazy here. Hope you have better weather there. Looking forward to taking your questions. Try to keep them short and I'll try to do same with the answers.
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 10:03am
Today was a good first step. I will be experimenting with new technology venues to communicate and engage the people. We will be exploring bringing new technology to this site with more video and visuals in the future. Next week we have Benjamin Lawsky who will be speaking about assistance for flood victims and the Department of Financial Services which is a new innovation by administration. Ben is an extraordinarily talented professional who worked with me in the Attorney General's office and you should tune in. Enjoy the day! I hope the sun comes out.
Submitted by Steven on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:51am
I wanted to praise your efforts to stimulate the economy through the regional economic councils. Will there be some funds to provide grants to approved projects for small business/sole proprietor ideas and projects?
East Hampton Long Island
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:56am
The point of the regional strategy approach is to bring an intelligence to the grant making that doesn't now exist. We are trying to promote regional, comprehensive, cooperative, performance based strategies and grants. Small businesses are the engine of growth. The optimum will be small business grants in the aforementioned context. So work with your local regional council to be part of the process.
Submitted by John on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:54am
Thanks for doing this governor! Question: What do you thnk the State can do to improve the ability for local farmers to sell products directly to consumers while reducing the red-tape and administrative burdens on the farmer. While I understand that public safety is critical, you practically need to be an attorney to sell a gallon of milk directly to consumers.
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 10:02am
We have started a program that has not gotten enough attention called "FreshConnect" that connects farmers with neighborhood based green markets in urban areas across the state. They provide markets for farmers and green produce for urban communities. We just started it and you've given me an idea: this should really be a subject of a future online chat because we need to do more to get the word out.
Submitted by Michael on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:20am
Has anything surprised you since being governor?
lower hudson valley
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:50am
Surprised me? I don't know that anything has surprised me because I've been in and around government for many years. But, I would say that we have made more progress in a shorter period of time than I expected when this journey began. I was also pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support for flood victims by their fellow New Yorkers. And I am surprised by how fast the summer disappeared this year.
Submitted by Lori on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:39am
Hi Andrew, We own rental property that was affected by the flooding. We've replaced 4 hot water heaters, needed electrical work and might have to replace 4 furnances. There is no assistance for us, other than loans.
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:47am
Most of the programs come through Washington and that's why I am pushing so hard for the Congressional action on the FEMA programs. But, specifically, you should look at the NYSERDA program the state runs for assistance in buying appliances.
Submitted by Esther on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:19am
What evidence do you see of "safe" hydrofracking and, if allowed, how would it be regulated with a reduction in DEC personnel?
Ithaca/ Finger Lakes
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:38am
There are many many questions coming in on hydrofracking. This is not the right forum to discuss in detail the pros and cons of hydrofracking. However, Commissioner Martens will be doing an online chat on just this topic in two weeks. Let me say this. My point all along is to make the decision on hydrofracking based on the facts and on the science. This is not an issue to be decided by politics or emotion. DEC's process is fair, intelligent and open and I am letting the process proceed.
Submitted by Krys on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:12am
Are you picking the questions to answer, or, are your staff? How can we see the questions that you choose not to answer?
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:35am
I am sitting at my kitchen table with Josh Vlasto of my communications team, who is also a faster typer than I am. We are going down the list of questions, picking ones that are informative, but not hypertechnical or redundant.
Submitted by Wendy on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:05am
Will you be considering raising taxes on wealthy NYers to help raise revenue in NYS?
Sheridan (Chaut Co)
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:32am
This state competes for businesses and people everyday with our neighboring states. In fact, we compete with states all across the nation in this new mobile world. If we raise taxes, we actually hurt the state by making it less competitive. If we want to raise taxes on the wealthy, it should be done on the federal level to keep the playing field even.
Submitted by Tom on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:29am
What can be done to make our state wine industry even better? Are sales in grocery stores the answer or will this hurt our local wineries?
NY Wine Industry
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:40am
Good question and point. We are working to increase the marketing and promotion of the New York State wine industry. In the scope of things, the greatness and strength of our wine industry is a story that has not been told.
Submitted by Jean on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 8:41am
I have seen you wear a lapell pin. What does the lapell pin say
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:17am
I wear a lapel pin and senior members of my administration wear the lapel pin. Actually, they have been given the lapel pin, though I can't say they all wear it! The pin is something that I designed and had made at the beginning of the year. It sums up our goal and ethic in a few simple words. At the top of the pin it says "performance, integrity pride." On the bottom of the pin it says I work for the people. In many ways that says it all. And if we keep those words in mind, we will stay on the right course. The great seal is in the middle of the pin and the blue and gold are the official state colors. I have told my team in the day to day craziness of Albany the pin can provide a point of reference.
Submitted by Jenny on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:13am
What do you enjoy most about being Governor?
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:43am
Submitted by Kristin on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:47pm
What do you have planned to make the SUNY system the best public university system in the world?
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:14am
We have taken a much different approach with SUNY to accomplish two goals: improve SUNY academically and use the SUNY system as an economic generator. We have a new program called SUNY 2020 which is up and running, which I think you should check out because it's happening and exciting. We have also increased and protected future funding for SUNY schools.
Submitted by Dennis on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:34pm
Governor: Thank you for passing the property tax cap. Here in Brighton we have good schools, but it's becoming unaffordable for working families. Are you considering a similar cap on state spending?
Property Tax Cap
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:10am
You took the first step which was getting a good education and kudos to you for doing that. My advice is you stay right here because New York is the Empire State and we are on the way up. To the extent that New York is facing economic challenges they are national in nature and moving to another state will not change your overall economic trajectory. We have made much progress here in just the last nine months. New York is "pen for business" in more ways than one.
Submitted by Fran on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 8:16am
What's it like living in the mansion?
Living the Life
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:06am
The mansion has many warm personal memories for me as my family lived there for 12 years. It also has great historical significance. There is a magic to it. I do many "official" functions there because I think people really enjoy visiting. It also helps set a tone for meetings and discussions. My home is in Westchester with my girls who don't get to Albany.
Submitted by William on Thu, 09/22/2011 - 5:53pm
I am a retired teacger from Whitney Point Central School District. Their budget is approximately 30 million. If the CPU goes up 2% it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that WP's budget would gp up $600,000 (2% of 30 Million). A 2% increase in taxes in WP raises about $120,000. WHere do they come up with the rest of the $480,000? With state aid going down they already laid of 25 staff memebers this year on top of previous layoff in earlier years.
2% Tax Cap
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:03am
We have passed a two percent tax cap which establishes as a two percent cap as the limit. However, that is subject to an override by the people of the district. The people can do whatever they want and that's the way it should be. But, I want the people to make the decision and I want the odds weighed in favor of the people and not the politicians.
Submitted by Jon on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:00am
If Indian Point closes, where will the state get replacement energy?
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:30am
There is no doubt that we need replacement power if we are to close Indian Point. There is also no doubt that we can find it. We can retrofit old plants, we can site new plants, we can improve transmission lines. So if we want to find replacement power, we can. The replacement power issue is not a justification to keep Indian Point operating. And my point has always been safety first and the reward doesn't justify the risk.
Submitted by Michelle on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 8:39am
Luckily, where I live was spared but many communities near me were devastated by Irene and Lee. What was it like for you going through the storm ravaged parts of the state?
The natural disasters
Submitted by Governor Andrew M Cuomo on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 9:19am
In many ways, they have been the toughest days of my nine months. The pain and hardship that our neighbors are facing is devastating to see day after day. That's why I am so offended at the politics and dysfunction at not passing flood relief in Washington. It's inexcusable. The silver lining, I might add, is to see the spirit of community that New Yorkers have demonstrated. People came from all over the state to provide assistance to neighbors in need and it's one of the things that make the state special.