By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Reaction poured in from both sides of the political aisle and from Brooklyn’s business community in the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sixth State of the State Address on Wednesday.
The reaction one Brooklyn lawmaker had to the speech was immediate and caused shock waves inside the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.
Assemblymember Charles Barron (D-East New York) stood up inside the center shortly after Cuomo began his remarks and heckled the governor, a fellow Democrat, over economic issues.
Barron contended that contrary to Cuomo’s claim that New York State is doing better economically, many people in low-income areas are not faring well at all.
When Barron continued to yell at him, Cuomo shot back: “Just because you’re yelling doesn’t mean you’re right.”
The crowd appeared to be on Cuomo’s side during the testy exchange, with many people in the audience shouting at Barron to “sit down!”
Barron was escorted from the hall, although he later contended that he left on his own and was not escorted out.
Other reactions to the State of the State Address were calmer.
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said he was pleased with what he heard, particularly with the governor’s announcement that he planned to reduce taxes on small businesses and provide more assistance to minority and woman business enterprises (MWBE).
"The governor's plan will undoubtedly make New York State an even better place to live, work and raise a family, whether by lowering taxes on small businesses, the backbone of our economy, or increasing opportunities for MWBEs; promoting New York's tourism sector, which accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs in Brooklyn alone; rebuilding and modernizing our transportation infrastructure to ensure traversing the state and city is easier for all residents; or prioritizing education by increasing spending from kindergarten to college and extending mayoral control," Scissura said.
Small businesses are the backbone of the state’s economy, accounting for 43 percent of all private sector jobs in New York, according to Cuomo, who said that since 2011, he has advanced a series of tax cuts that will save businesses $3.8 billion by the year 2021.
In his State of the State Address, the governor also proposed tax cuts for both for small businesses who pay via the corporate tax and for those who pay through personal income taxes. Approximately 1 million small businesses across the state will benefit, he said.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said he is concerned about Cuomo’s spending proposals.
“Although I have found common ground in the governor's 2016 plan, I have serious concerns about the adverse economic impact to New York City. Governor Cuomo is now asking the taxpayers of the Big Apple to shoulder the expense of an overzealous spending plan. Contribution increases to the City University of New York, the cost of Medicaid growth statewide, and efforts to create and maintain affordable and supportive housing throughout the state are among his requests. Equally concerning is the governor's $100 billion capital plan that will most certainly increase the state's debt which the taxpayers of New York City will someday have to pay," Golden said.
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) charged that the governor is spending too much.
“Since entering the legislature in 2011, I have worked very hard with reform-minded colleagues to close the $13 billion deficit we inherited and bring fiscal sanity to state government,” she said, accusing Cuomo of announcing “a costly agenda that does not respect the state’s hardworking taxpayers.”
New Yorkers “do not live in an imaginary utopia, where taxpayer money grows on trees and is unlimited,” Malliotakis said.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), who traveled up from Brooklyn to Albany to hear the governor’s speech, praised Cuomo.
“Whether it’s raising the minimum wage to $15 in New York State, modernizing the infrastructure and the technological aspects of our New York City subway system, or strengthening New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, Governor Cuomo has left no stone unturned regarding the best interests of the State of New York,” Gentile said.