North Country officials are mulling over New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech and the more than 300-page book that details the Democrat’s proposals. As WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, there are a number of policies that area officials are optimistic about.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas says there are proposals in the 2020 State of the State that regional businesses like. “One is the governor's very strong commitment to electric vehicle and electric vehicle production. For us that includes electric buses. Nova Bus in Plattsburgh is ready to produce them. Getting the state to commit to playing a positive role in closing the major cell phone service gaps in the North Country, particularly in the Adirondacks, has been a priority. And then we've been calling for small business tax relief and he made a significant small business tax cut.”
Senator Betty Little is a Republican representing New York’s 45th District, which extends from Queensbury to the Canadian border. She says state policies must encourage growth and sustainability. “Anything you can do to make New York State more attractive to people is very, very important. We have a great education system. He talked about that. He really covered every area of government about. Didn't get into a lot of details which he will when it comes to the budget address. He did talk about cell coverage for every part of the state. I am cheering on that because we need really good cell coverage in the North Country. It just has to happen.”
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall says the governor laid out an aggressive set of objectives in the State of the State. “A lot of it is trying to address social needs of our people in New York state. His focus on trying to improve worker safety, sexual harassment, equity pay for genders. I think it's all good and hopefully the state can accomplish much of it.”
In December, Senator Little announced that she would retire at the end of her term. As he began his speech, Governor Cuomo acknowledged her years of public service. “Senator Betty Little, a school teacher who answered the call to public service over 30 years ago with principle, decency and compassion. That's what Betty Little is all about. The longest serving female Republican senator ever: 18 years. Betty Little will be missed by everyone, myself included.”
Senator Little says she did not know the Governor planned a tribute. “That was a big surprise, let me tell you! Actually, the guy said, I'll show you to your seat. And when I got to my seat, it had my name on it. And as I started to look around no one else had their names on their seat. So I said what's going on here? And he said, well you're going to be recognized. And I thought maybe recognized for money for Lake George, money for cell towers or something like that. So I was really flabbergasted and very appreciative of it. It’s a bittersweet year as I had my last State of the State. But it's my 25th year in the legislature and it was very touching.”
Douglas calls the governor’s recognition of Little “gratifying” for everyone in the North Country. “Senator Betty Little has an extraordinarily respectful and collaborative relationship with the governor. That was shown yesterday. She has been a model of nonpartisan ‘senatorship’ if you will. She has been a model for showing how even a minority legislator can have a warm and effective relationship with a governor of the other party and with partners across the aisle in the other party and that will be a continuing model of what we need to look for in state legislators from the North Country.”