Two Capital Region lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday to return the governor’s State of the State to the Capitol — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was rounding out his six-region tour with stops in Syracuse and the University at Albany Performing Arts Center.
Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, are sponsoring the bill, which would amend the state’s constitution to require the governor’s message “be delivered orally in the Assembly Chamber, during the first week of legislative session, with a quorum of the Assembly and a quorum of the Senate present,” according to a news release.
Tedisco, who concluded a 34-year Assembly career last month after being elected to retiring Sen. Hugh Farley’s seat, announced his plans for the legislation late last month before taking office. On Wednesday he compared the governor’s tour to the “Hunger Games” and suggested it would be akin to the president giving the State of the Union in the four continental time zones.
“I don’t oppose the governor visiting several different regions of the state,” Tedisco said. “However, this amendment aims to ensure that the people's representatives in the Legislative branch of our state government are the primary conduit for the chief executive's recommendations to New Yorkers so we can work together for positive solutions to help our citizens.”
Before making the address a regional tour this year, Cuomo had given the speech at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center since taking office in 2011, when he moved it from its historic location in the Assembly chamber. Cuomo has said the move was meant to give him the opportunity to lay out regional accomplishments, goals and challenges directly to the people, but Tedisco and other lawmakers said the governor wanted to avoid protests amid growing tensions between the executive and legislative branches.
Steck said the address’s purpose should not be to “propagandize and then blame the Legislature for what is not accomplished.”
“It is to outline for the Legislature in a serious manner those policies which the Governor believes we can realistically accomplish, working together,” he said. “It should set the agenda for a productive legislative session. Converting the State of the State into a dog and pony show, and now taking that show on the road, is unnecessary, inefficient, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”