Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 5, 2013

Cuomo to push gun control, Sandy aid during State of the State address

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Wednesday's speech, however, is also expected to hold the traditional surprises, usually in the form of a creative new program or law to lead the nation or a huge construction project worthy of someday being named after a governor.

Not all make it beyond the standing ovation. The cornerstone of last year's State of the state speech was a $4 billion convention center and hotel complex at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens that fizzled shortly after it was announced.

"To a certain extent, there are two elephants in the room in this State of the State," said Doug Muzzio, political science professor at New York City's Baruch College. "One is Sandy for its tremendous fiscal and emotional impact, and the other is the psychological impact of the Newtown tragedy."

Muzzio said Cuomo will have to play each of those issues to carefully to maintain his political balancing act. Cuomo wants to ban assault rifles without riling legal gun owners and their supporters upstate. He will also have to keep up pressure on Washington to get the most Sandy recovery aid and minimize the impact on his own state budget, which is already projected to have a deficit of at least $1 billion.

Meanwhile, he must get all this through a Senate where Republicans have maintained a working majority thanks to the allegiance of a freshman Brooklyn Democrat. But Cuomo must also deal with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference without appearing dismissive of traditional Democrats left without a share of majority power.

"We have to agree on legislation that comes to the floor, appointments, everything," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx-Westchester Democrat in the IDC that is part of the so-called majority coalition.

In the Assembly, powerful Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver is making a top priority of raising the minimum wage that was strongly opposed by the Senate's Republican majority.

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