Governor Discusses Comedy Center During Address

Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed a lot of topics during his annual State of the State Address, which even included a shout-out to Jamestown.

During the speech, which correlated with the release of his executive state budget, Cuomo discussed the opening of the National Comedy Center earlier this year.

Cuomo said so far visitors — including himself during the ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 1 — from 49 states have toured the new interactive national attraction based on the celebration of comedy since it opened.

“We have visitors from all over the country going to Jamestown, New York,” he said. “Isn’t that amazing.”

One of the main topics Cuomo discussed was legalizing the adult-use of cannabis in the state.

He said, if legalized, no one under the age of 21 would be able to purchase marijuana and it would generate $300 million in tax revenue.

If the proposal passes in the state Legislature this year, New York would become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The state’s new measure would permit personal use as well as retail sales of the drug. The governor said cities and counties could prohibit retail pot shops within their boundaries if they choose.

He added that his support for legalization follows the study done by state health officials who determined the benefits of legalization outweigh the risks. The new legalization proposal comes with a plan to seal past marijuana convictions.

According to the Associate Press, legalizing marijuana has broad support in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly. However, both Chautauqua County state legislators, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, both are against the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Goodell said he is against most of the agenda items Cuomo has announced since he unveiled his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019 during an address last month.

“Unfortunately the Democrats have announced their top agenda items are increase gambling, more drug use, more taxes, more abortions and fewer farmers,” Goodell said. “They want to increase gambling by allowing sports game gambling. They want to increase drug use by allowing marijuana to be smoked throughout the state. They want to outlaw private health insurance and increase taxes by an estimated 450 percent to cover a government monopoly on health care. They want to increase abortions by allowing more abortions to occur after the baby has been fully formed in the womb. They want to pass a farm bill to put unrealistic overtime restrictions on farmers, which would be devastating during harvest time. At no point during the opening speeches did the Democrats discuss personal responsibility, creating more jobs or cutting taxes.”

Young said there were some encouraging proposals in Cuomo’s address, but she is also against part of his initiatives.

“The governor’s address also included proposals that I oppose such as legalizing marijuana, which poses very real health and safety concerns and using taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns,” she said. “In the coming days, I will be analyzing the details of this $175 billion spending plan and its impact, both positive and negative, on the hardworking taxpayers that I represent. While the role of the Republican Conference in the budget and legislative process has changed, my commitment to fight for fairness and equity for my district and upstate New York is stronger than ever.”

Young said she was glad to hear Cuomo advocate for making the state’s property tax cap permanent, a measure Senate Republicans have pushed for several years. Also encouraging was his statement that he intends to support the next phase of the historic middle-class tax cuts that Young said the Republican conference championed and kicked off in 2018.

“When fully enacted, these cuts will bring New York’s tax rate to its lowest level in 70 years,” she said. “Republican members have other tax-reduction proposals that we will bring to the budget discussion as the process moves forward.”

Young said she was also pleased by the governor’s proposed $1 billion increase for schools, a 3.6 percent rise over last year.

“His commitment to give priority to the neediest districts is important for rural areas like ours,” she said. “We will also be working to ensure that funding to our hospitals and health care system will support the quality and access that New Yorkers need and deserve.”

There is a great need in the region and in several communities across the state for the property tax compensation fund the governor mentioned, which would assist communities affected by power plant closures, Young said.

“This is reassuring for the city of Dunkirk, which continues to require support in the wake of NRG’s plant closure and its July decision to withdraw from the repowering project,” she said.

Young also said she liked Cuomo’s infrastructure investment plan, which is critical for aging upstate communities, which have some of the oldest roads and bridges in the state.

“The governor’s pledge of $4.43 billion for these transportation networks is crucial to supporting economic development and job growth and assuring the safety of our residents,” she said.