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ALBANY -- Within two days, religious conservatives and social liberals mounted separate protests outside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Capitol office.
Such protests are common for governors in the days before a state budget is due on April 1.
On Thursday a few protesters were willingly arrested in a peaceful gathering of a couple hundred demonstrators decrying several issues.
They protested Cuomo’s proposals to provide tax breaks to companies and millionaire employers as a way to attract more jobs to the state. Others criticized Cuomo and the Legislature over school aid, saying the 4-percent annual increases haven’t been enough.
A few urged Cuomo and the Legislature to “take the lead on climate” change, although he has pursued several measures. The Sisters of St. Joseph order of nuns stated: “Food is a human right,” among several signs advocating for more aid for the working poor. Others criticized the state Senate for rejecting the Dream Act proposal this week, which would have provided college financial aid to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.
The demonstrators included labor-backed advocacy groups and members the Occupy Albany movement as well as Bill Samuels, a good-government advocate.
On Tuesday, hundreds of evangelical Christians and their conservative allies covered the same historic stairway between the governor’s office and the Senate and Assembly chambers.
They peacefully protested Cuomo’s comment in a radio interview weeks ago that there was no place for “extremists” in New York who oppose abortion, gay marriage, Cuomo’s gun control law, and other progressive measures he championed. Cuomo later explained he meant extremist politicians couldn’t win political office in New York, which he calls the “progressive capital” of the nation.
One of the group’s leaders, the Rev. Jason McGuire, said Cuomo has refused to meet with his group for years, dating back to his attorney general term.
McGuire, of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said Cuomo’s remarks were “cynical and divisive.” McGuire argued that Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan encouraged input from divergent viewpoints.
Cuomo had sent a press officer to meet with the group. A spokesman didn’t comment on McGuire’s claim that Cuomo has never responded to requests to meet with him.