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Cuomo’s State of State speech: Legislators plan to skip it

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is among state

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is among state legislative leaders who will not attend Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State addresses next week. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY — The top leaders of the Senate and Assembly will skip all six renditions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State speech next week amid hard feelings between the governor and many legislators.

Instead of giving the speech in Albany to the full legislature as usual, Cuomo will deliver the address at events in Manhattan and Buffalo Monday, Farmingdale and Purchase on Tuesday and at the University of Albany and in Syracuse on Wednesday.

Many legislators, angry that Cuomo derailed a 25-percent raise for lawmakers in December, contemplated boycotting the event.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) was among lawmakers who criticized Cuomo for taking the State of the State event on the road.

“Senator Flanagan was invited to attend, but declined,” Senate majority spokesman Scott Reif said Thursday. “He will be in Albany, in session, fulfilling his duties as Senate majority leader.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (R-Bronx) and Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) won’t attend either, their spokesmen said.

“The speaker laid out a comprehensive agenda this week on issues like education, reproductive rights and criminal justice reform, so we have a lot of work to do here in Albany and that is what we will be focusing on,” said Heastie’s spokesman, Michael Whyland.

Sen. Jeff Klein (R-Bronx), who heads the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman said Klein was ill.

Assembly Republican leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“By definition, these regional addressees are designed to communicate directly with the citizens of New York, not legislators,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “There will be plenty of communication with the legislature regarding this year’s priorities. Our goal has always been to bring the issues to the people, to develop the public support and then have it communicated to the elected representatives.”

The state constitution appears to say the governor must address the State of State to the Legislature: “The governor shall communicate by message to the legislature at every session the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to it as he or she shall judge expedient.”

A spokeswoman for Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who like the legislative leaders has feuded with Cuomo in recent months, said DiNapoli hadn’t yet decided if he will attend any of Cuomo’s State of the State speeches.

Democratic Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman plans to attend Monday’s speech in Manhattan.

Monday and Tuesday are scheduled session days for the legislature. Wednesday is not.


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