Niagara Gazette

January 13, 2013

EDITORIAL: Sound plan for a better New York

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — During his state of the state address this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a number of new initiatives offering great promise for communities like Niagara County and regions like Western New York.

And while some of these efforts may prove costly and are coming at a time when the state’s finances are being impacted by Hurricane Sandy cleanup efforts, we applaud Cuomo for unveiling a plan for 2013 that reminds New Yorkers of the need to approach the coming year with enthusiasm and pride. 

This is the Empire State after all, a place that has led the nation in many areas and can do so again, with the right outlook and leadership. 

While we have questions — chief among them where the money will come from to cover the tab for all of Cuomo’s initiatives — the governor deserves high marks for doing something other high-level officials in Albany have neglected to do in past years: Remember Upstate New York and the potential benefits it can, if properly cultivated, offer to the state’s overall economy. 

In his address, Cuomo reinforced his support the “Buffalo Billion,” an effort his office launched last year that is aimed at investing $1 billion for economic development projects in the Buffalo area, including Niagara Falls and surrounding communities. 

He also announced a new “Market NY” campaign aimed at better promoting regional assets, including those found right here. As part of a larger plan, the governor is calling for the creation of “Taste-NY,” an initiative that would focus on improved promotion of home-grown and home-produced products, a seemingly perfect fit for Niagara County’s growers and winemakers. 

He’s proposed a new advertising competition offering shares of $5 million for regions developing new and effective marketing campaigns. Such a program would seem ideal for tourism-rich Niagara Falls and neighboring communities. 

And what of the Falls? 

Cuomo mentioned the mighty cataracts as part of his discussion, at first drawing little reaction from the crowd assembled for his address in Albany.

To his credit, Cuomo prodded the audience to show more enthusiasm, reminding them that New York is home to one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders, hinting once again that the mighty Falls are deserving of the state’s respect and attention. 

It’s too early to tell whether Cuomo’s plan to boost tourism and revenue through legalized gaming statewide by developing three upstate casinos will prove beneficial to the Western New York area where the Seneca Nation of Indians currently holds exclusive rights to operate Class III gaming facilities. 

We do, however, look forward to the successful implementation of some of the governor’s other proposals, including efforts to promote the development of high-tech and environmentally friendly industries, steps to reform education through extended school days and stronger evaluation systems for teachers and plans to reform the state’s archaic system of campaign finance. We also strongly endorse his 10-point Women Equality Act aimed at breaking down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality based on gender.

As for the most controversial element of Cuomo’s speech - his call for New York lawmakers to enact the strongest gun control laws in the nation - we’ll wait to see the details of the final proposals before rendering judgment while noting that, in light of recent shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., it’s clear the time has come for a robust discussion about the future of firearms and assault weapons in New York, and elsewhere. 

As Cuomo suggested, it’s time once again for the Empire State to take the lead, not just on gun rights, but so much more. 

“New York is on its way, coming back stronger than ever before, rising to meet some of the biggest challenges in our history, remaining as a progressive beacon of light to the rest of the nation, and standing out as a model of effective government,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

It’s certainly not there yet, but at least under Cuomo there’s been signs of progress and action behind the words. 

We invite state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to continue to work with the governor to make sure New York enjoys more of the same in 2013, and beyond.