Laying out his 2017 agenda in New York City on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to fight back against “middle class anger” stoked by stagnate wages and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The measures were announced in the first of six State of the State addresses Cuomo is delivering around the state starting Monday and ending Wednesday.
Cuomo, who spoke for about 40 minutes, was audibly hoarse during much of the address and reportedly canceled events late last week.
In the address Monday morning at 1 World Trade Center, Cuomo reiterated his support for the DREAM Act and outlined a partnership with law firms to bolster the legal protections for immigrants.
He also restated a plan to provide free tuition to students whose families earn less than $125,000 and wants to spend another $750 million on economic development through regional councils, which Senate Republicans have pledged to oversee more closely in the coming months.
“I believe these measures will help alleviate the middle class anger,” Cuomo said. “People focus energy generated by that anger and when they focus that energy and they do it in a positive way, it can be a great force for reform. But misdirected, that anger can be destructive. It can scapegoat and it can demonize. It can spread fear of those who are different. And it can destroy the uniquely American values and progressive principles that are the foundation of this society.”
As has been his style, Cuomo did not mention President-elect Donald Trump by name, but referenced the scrutiny that has been placed on hate crimes and racist graffiti in the wake of Election Day in November.
He insisted he’ll push for criminal justice reforms and prodded the Legislature on agreeing to his terms in spending $2 billion for supportive housing.
But Cuomo in the same remarks insisted these policies benefit middle class New Yorkers and vice versa.
“Middle-class success,” he said, “is not the enemy of our progressive beliefs.”