Much has been made of the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent State of the State address appeared to be laying out not only his 2013 agenda for New York, but the potential for a 2016 campaign for president. But whatever Cuomo’s plans for the future, he’s got a state to run right now. And what wasn’t said in his speech was in many ways more telling than what was.
The elephant in the Empire State Plaza on Jan. 9 was undeniably fracking. The lengthy and ambitious agenda the governor laid out for the state contained no mention of the controversial natural gas drilling practice, despite the fact that the state government is poised to make a decision this year about the future of fracking.
Cuomo seemed angry and annoyed when questioned about the omission after his speech, arguing that fracking “has nothing to do with the State of the State.”
Well, we’re sorry, Mr. Cuomo, but we don’t buy that.
The State of the State should address the key issues facing the state in the coming year, and offer a plan for addressing them. To suggest that fracking is not among the key issues facing the state would be laughable. And after more than four years of government deliberation, New Yorkers deserve answers.
While Cuomo may have shied away from this political hot potato, he did not hesitate to stake out other controversial positions. He passionately outlined an ambitious agenda to protect the rights of women, earning him the type of applause usually reserved for rock stars. He has already made good on his promise to enact tough gun control laws, and he reiterated his support for efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession.
We stand with the governor on these issues, and we are proud to see him committed to New York’s status as the “progressive capital of the nation,” as he described it. But we can’t help but feel a little left out by the rest of his speech.
It’s true that Cuomo spoke at some length about upstate, acknowledging the great need for economic development. But the programs he outlined — the establishment of non-Indian casinos and the creation of innovation “hot spots — are not likely to land on our doorstep any time soon. And some of his least-detailed intentions — such as a coordinated marketing plan that is meant to help promote dairy products — were those aimed at upstate.
We’re not naive enough to think that our region is a top priority for the governor. But as we’ve said before, he is governor of the whole state, not just the metropolitan areas and tourist destinations. If the governor is truly committed to the success of upstate, he’s going to have to do a little better than he did in his State of the State address.