Students attend Cuomo's address
ALBANY—A student from both Penn Yan and Watkins Glen attended Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address in Albany, Jan. 5.
One student from each county was in attendance, sitting on the stage with Cuomo. Alex Bodine represented Yates County and Penn Yan Academy. Sarah Bond attended for Watkins Glen and Schuyler County.
“I was honored and glad to go,” said Bodine.
“It was a huge honor to be invited,” Bond said. “I was sitting behind (Cuomo). It was a unique experience.”
It was also the first time the State of the State was not held in the capitol building, allowing more public attendance. Cuomo explained the governor’s address was held that way since Al Smith was governor in the 1920s. Bond said she liked how Cuomo had done this to make it more of a “people’s government.”
“It was really interesting how they integrated technology into the speech,” Bodine said, adding Cuomo was “passionate.”
Bodine said Cuomo spoke how Albany used to be a great thing and a leader in the use of government. However, Cuomo also pointed out the cleaning up that is needed in Albany. One of those areas is spending. Bodine commented on Cuomo saying New York places first in education spending, but only 34th in results when compared to other states.
Cuomo’s speech focused on the changes he said he wanted to implement in New York state. Bond said her favorite part was when Cuomo talked about how the state is only allowed to have 20 departments. However, Cuomo explained that since that rule was made in 1938, departments have been able to add dozens of subgroups, committees, councils, etc.
Bond explained in her experience as president of the Watkins student council smaller groups can get more work done.
“(Cuomo) has some really great ideas, but what about the details?” said Watkins Superintendent Tom Phillips who was also at the speech.
He said the current system is “not sustainable.” Phillips explained you can’t expect to decrease revenue and keep programs.
“You can’t have 740 districts cut revenue and think they will survive,” he added.
In his address, Cuomo said there should be two competitive funds to reward school districts on performance. He explained one fund should be based on student performance and the second on administrative efficiency. Cuomo said, “let (districts) compete, let them be rewarded, and let them be emulated.”
“I’m very glad to hear that,” said Phillips. “It’s an incentive to get better.”
Another area Cuomo mentioned competition was in economic development funding. He said the state will establish ten economic regional councils across New York. In addition to handling the money that already goes into each area, Cuomo said the councils would create job development plans and compete against each other for $200 million in funding.