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Protesters Picket Cuomo Before State Of State Speech At SUNY Purchase

More help for the middle class is among the proposals by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his annual State of the State speeches. Cuomo is set to speak at SUNY Purchase on Tuesday morning.
More help for the middle class is among the proposals by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his annual State of the State speeches. Cuomo is set to speak at SUNY Purchase on Tuesday morning. Photo Credit: file photo

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Dozens of protesters are expected to express their opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to subsidize failing Upstate electric power plants before his State of the State speech Tuesday at SUNY Purchase.

A spokeswoman for WESPAC, the Westchester People's Action Coalition, said that opponents of nuclear power will hold signs greeting attendees of the governor's third of six speeches planned this week.

Cuomo's plan to spend up to $10 billion to assist four Upstate power plants comes as the state announced it reached an agreement with Entergy to permanently close its Indian Point nuclear reactors by 2021.

"While the groups are supportive of progress in shutting down Indian Point nuclear reactors, they believe it makes no sense" for the governor to increase monthly utility bills to provide a subsidy to "keep old, failing upstate nuclear plants open. Closing all nuclear plants is the safest and most economical strategy," WESPAC said in a press statement.

The governor, who lives in Westchester County, is speaking at SUNY Purchase as part of a three-day statewide tour. Tuesday's 10:30 a.m. speech can be watched via live stream by clicking online. The governor's State-of-the-State proposals are highlighted online by clicking here:

Other announcements, made public last week, include the governor's proposal for free tuition at state higher-learning institutions for students from low- or middle-class households, an expansion of the state child care tax credit and a $10 billion plan to upgrade JFK airport and its transit links.

During Monday's speech Cuomo also suggested other plans to help the middle class.

“Our middle class is hurting and angry at their lack of progress...They are paying the bills, but lacking security...We understand the anger and we will address it. Today I am proposing a Middle Class Recovery Act. It has three components: jobs and infrastructure; access to education; and lower taxes," Cuomo said.

The governor's critics said his opening speech -- delivered Monday morning at One World Trade Center in Manhattan -- was full of more unfunded mandates that most New Yorkers cannot afford.

Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New Yor, said: “Ever the showman, the governor apparently continues to think he’s some combination of Robert Moses, FDR, and Santa Claus. The sad fact is that in most of New York, unemployment is up, savings rates are down, and job growth is weak to nonexistent. Residents continue to flee the state at the highest rate in the nation. Giveaway schemes to bribe private companies to create jobs aren’t working."

“Despite what he told New Yorkers this morning, the middle class will have to pay for these grand visions and giveaways," Muir said. "We had hoped for honesty. So far, all we have is a fantasy we can’t afford."

Muir added: “New Yorkers aren’t political props, and there’s no such thing as ‘free.’ New York’s middle class is struggling because of high income and property taxes: Neither were seriously addressed in Governor Cuomo's lengthy fantasy wish-list."

Cuomo will release more 2017 proposals during his State of the State tour. The governor's schedule of speeches for the rest of the week is:

-- Tuesday, 1 p.m.: Farmingdale State College on Long Island

-- Wednesday, 10 a.m.: University at Albany Performing Arts Center

-- Wednesday, 1 p.m.: Carrier Theater in Syracuse

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