CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – When New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R – District 40) spoke to members of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, he asked if anyone had listened to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. A moment of silence passed without anyone raising a hand, before the crowd laughed and Ball continued speaking.
“I think small business is focused on making payroll and generating new leads, so that’s why people don’t sit down and watch the whole speech,” said Bill Powers, of Powers Public Relations. Powers is also chairperson of the chamber of commerce. “We’re involved on a day to day basis,” he said about many of the issues.
More than a couple of members readily admitted they hadn’t watched Cuomo’s speech, although they said they paid close attention to media coverage of the topic.
“There’s certain things he didn’t address, such as fracking,” said Adrian Hunte, a Cortlandt resident and owner of a legal practice. The biggest issue for Hunte, is the biggest issue for many Westchester residents—taxes. “It’s so overly burdensome,” she said.
The governor’s State of the State address included proposals that could radically change the face of the state. The governor is hoping to stimulate business throughout the state, emphasizing the importance of jobs.
Part of the Cuomo’s economic agenda includes a number of large scale construction proposals. His speech included plans for $25 billion in public-private partnerships, rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge and building the nation’s largest convention center in Queens. He also proposed regulating and allowing more gambling throughout the state.
Whether or not members of the chamber listened to the speech in its entirety, many had the issues on their mind. New York State Assembly member Sandy Galef (D – District 90) and Ball took questions at the morning breakfast. Many discussed what they saw as abuses by the Metro-Transit Authority and concern about unfunded mandates to school district and municipalities.
“I never thought I’d have rank and file people come up to me and say, ‘We have to do something about unfunded mandates,’” Ball said.