Gov. Cuomo, a Hollis native and by his own recognition a “Queens man through and through,” received the biggest rounds of applause for his stance on stop and frisk and proposed women’s equality legislation, on Wednesday at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
The governor spoke of job creation, taking his time on a decision about fracking upstate, education and gun control, but people were the most excited about equality for all.
There are 49,880 marijuana arrests made citywide in 2011 because of stop and frisk, Cuomo said. Of those about 80 percent are Hispanic or black, and 69 percent are under 30, which results in many young minorities entering the criminal system, he added.
Cuomo has proposed the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in an effort to keep these young individuals out of jail. Being jailed for these comparatively minor offenses creates a cycle of arrests that should end, he said to resounding applause.
“It stigmatizes and criminalizes,” Cuomo said. “It’s not right. It’s not fair.”
The audience at what the governor called a State of the State address also burst into cheers when Cuomo presented his 10-point Women’s Equality Act. The crowd in Albany last month gave him a standing ovation when he introduced the idea.
The legislation aims to continue freedom of choice and reproductive health, achieve pay equality, create zero tolerance to sexual harassment in the workplace, allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees in employment credit and lending cases and end family status discrimination in housing.
Other important points include combatting human trafficking, which Cuomo noted was a large problem in New York. His plan additionally aims to end housing discrimination and “shatter the glass ceiling,” he said, pointing out that women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. His legislation would also stop housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence.
He went on to commend the New York Legislature for passing bills last month that create tougher background checks and licensing for guns and ban certain types of automatic riffles. He touted New York being ahead of what President Obama said in the State of the Union that he wants in terms of gun control.
“The NRA is powerful politically,” Cuomo said. “[New York legislators] have the guts to stand up and vote.”
Cuomo pledged to not raise taxes while still balancing the budget and lowering the deficit. That has dropped to $1.3 billion from $3 billion the year before and $10 billion the year before that.
Cuomo emphasized an entrepreneurially aware government to encourage businesses. He highlighted a plan that would team private institutions with educational institutions so the new establishments are surrounded by support. While in these incubators the businesses would not pay taxes with one stipulation: they must keep their jobs in state.
Cuomo spoke of increasing the minimum wage although later he said he would like the federal government to lead that push.
His education plan would increase school days, with the state footing the bill, as well as acknowledge that poor schools are different from those in rich neighborhoods.
“In those distressed communities they are a school plus,” he said, adding that those teachers provide nutritional education and counseling more often than in privileged neighborhoods.