This story has been updated.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and other critics of Andrew Cuomo said the governor's State of the State speeches are a clear indication he's already running for president in 2020.
"Andrew Cuomo is utterly shameless," Astorino, a Republican who lost a gubernatorial challenge to Cuomo in 2014, said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after Cuomo's State of the State address at SUNY Purchase. "At today's political rally masquerading as a State of the State address in Westchester -- potential Democratic candidates for county executive were invited, but not the actual county executive. In his 'speech,' Mr. Cuomo blatantly suggested that my administration is responsible for state-driven property tax hikes.
"I would remind the governor that I have never once raised the county tax levy -- not for seven straight years -- while Mr. Cuomo's state mandates have ravaged county, municipal and school budgets. Mr. Cuomo's state mandates consume almost all of what the County collects in property taxes, leaving us with very little to actually run county government," Astorino added.
"Cuomo's secret plan to shut Indian Point in four years will dramatically affect Westchester's taxpayers and electric bills. The governor's goal of thoroughly destroying our middle class is becoming more apparent with his massive spending plans in order to curry favor with his party's base as he runs for President. Advice to New Yorkers: Hold onto your wallets."
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Gov. Cuomo, reacted: "No governor has done more to deliver mandate relief than Gov. Cuomo. Under him, the state has eliminated growth in the local share of Medicaid, which has saved counties $1.9 billion statewide, including $56 million in Westchester since 2013."
Azzopardi then commented on Astorino without referring to the county executive by name.
"This is no excuse, especially from someone leading a county with the highest property taxes in the state, to prevent local governments from coming together and developing a plan to ease the property tax burden by cutting costs -- something both the state and the taxpayer have done for quite some time," Azzopardi said.
Earlier Daily Voice coverage of Cuomo's State of the State speech at SUNY Purchase can be found by clicking here.
At a Tuesday news conference in White Plains, Astorino said, "We send about $4 billion in income tax from Westchester and we get about $2 billion in state aid."
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, also a Republican, had an answer to Cuomo's "fake news" on property taxes:
"There was a lot of talk in the last election about fake news, and what we heard in today’s lecture from Gov. Cuomo was clearly little more than a slick propaganda effort designed to mislead voters on what really accounts for high local property taxes."
More on Molinaro's reaction can be found online by clicking here:
Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir also weighed in by saying: “In an erratic blend of lies, contradictions, and outright fantasy, the Governor proved again he’s just living in his own head. Unfortunately for the residents of the Hudson Valley, the governor spent more time talking about building the longest hiking trail in the nation than any real plan to make the region more affordable.
“Like yesterday, we again heard a lie to New Yorkers about the potential staggering costs of his Bernie Sanders-inspired “free” college tuition scheme. College tuition will never be free. It will be paid for by New Yorkers," Muir said.
“The Governor shamefully avoided all blame for the nation’s highest property taxes. He dodged responsibility claiming, 'don’t point the finger at me.' If you believe that, we have a new Tappan Zee Bridge to sell you. 'Trying everything' as he asserts would include removing state mandates and regulations that prevent local governments from reducing costs," according to Muir.
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