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Cuomo shares ideas for improving education, economic growth

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his ideas for improving education in New York. Photo by Erika Karp

March 01, 2013 | 09:42 AM
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented some of the core pieces of his State of the State address at Stony Brook University on Thursday afternoon, including plans to create a better education system, bring businesses to New York and submit a tax-neutral budget on time.

Inside the Charles B. Wang Center theater, Cuomo told his audience the first part of his agenda is to focus on the closely linked areas of education and jobs.

President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr., Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Long Island Association President and Stony Brook Council Chairman Kevin Law, billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist Jim Simons, and county Legislators Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were all in attendance.

"We are not educating all of our children to the fullest," Cuomo said. "Some children are getting a world class education and some children are being left behind and that's the truth and we're better than that."

The governor discussed his plans to begin the transition to longer school days and/or years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked about improving education and growing the economy. Photo by Erika Karp
"The other countries are bypassing us in terms of education. There's not a lot of mystery to this. The other countries educate their children more," he said.

Cuomo said he understands change is hard and wants to leave the decision to local school districts. The state will pick up the cost if a district does decide to make the transition.

When asked at a press conference following his presentation about his response to Long Islanders rallying to get their "fair share" of state education aid, Cuomo said everyone around the state should have their fair share, but how to determine what is fair becomes controversial.

"On a statewide basis you're trying to do two things," Cuomo said. "You're trying to obviously respect people's contribution rates, but you're also trying to help the poor school districts who don't have the local tax base. So fair, yes, but how you define fair, that becomes everything."

To grow regional economies like Long Island's, Cuomo said during his presentation the state's Regional Economic Development Councils would continue to work to bring together entrepreneurs, academics and business leaders. He added that this year, he would focus on a key economic challenge known as the technology transfer, the period during which high-tech ideas and inventions transition from the academic sphere to the commercial sphere.

"[In] New York we have the schools producing the ideas," Cuomo said. "We have the young people. We have the brilliance. But they don't become businesses in New York. They leave New York to become businesses."

Cuomo said in order to fix the issue, the state will offer a program that will establish partnerships between the private sector and universities and colleges to help grow new businesses. The businesses would not have to pay taxes as they get off the ground and would receive free support services from the state to help them grow and stay in New York.

The governor also received rounds of applause from the audience for proposals like raising minimum wage to $8.75 and the Women's Equality Act, which includes provisions to stamp out sexual harassment and human trafficking, among others.

In his introduction, Stanley said it was fitting the governor chose Stony Brook to talk about his plans.

"Education is the engine in growing an economy and the SUNY system and our universities play a major role in the state," Stanley said. "We are educating and preparing our students to join the workforce. We are invested in research to come up with the latest ideas to make New York a leader in technology and education and to attract business to come to our state."

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