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Reading between Cuomo’s lines

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers his State of

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers his State of the State address on Wednesday at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Follow along below to see the editorial board’s live chat on Wednesday as board members watched Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State address.

Point by Point

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his annual address this afternoon:

Randi Marshall 2:29 p.m. Cuomo punted the effort to create a congestion pricing system down the road, saying the Fix NYC panel would “shortly” present a report with several choices. He didn’t advocate a single option — or a combined plan — but did cite the idea of charging a fee around a “certain zone” in Manhattan. He suggested the decision would fall in the lap of the State Legislature. “Difficult choices do not get easier by ignoring them, they only get harder,” Cuomo said. True, of course, but clearly the difficult choice is not one Cuomo wanted to make himself.

Mark Chiusano 2:33 p.m. He also kept up the pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio, stressing the need for “short-term” funding, a.k.a. the MTA’s Subway Action Plan.

Michael Dobie 2:33 p.m. He took a shot at legislators or de Blasio on that by saying these are difficult choices and cheap political slogans are just that . . .

Randi Marshall 2:35 p.m. He spent far more time on criminal justice and homelessness than ethics or transit. And more time on taxes than anything else.

Lane Filler 2:38 p.m. Yeah, tax wrangle ideas are very interesting, payroll tax in particular. It’s sort of a funny use of the term . . . “local districts must give more money to their poorer schools” . . . That doesn’t really mean anything.

Mark Chiusano 2:40 p.m. For NYC, the biggest take-aways from the speech seem to be Cuomo’s focus on criminal justice, homelessness, terror prevention at places like Penn Station, and the first gestures at congestion pricing. The suggested criminal justice reforms seem to be the most extensive of the above, though we’ll see what actually turns into concrete new policy and/or makes it through the budget process.

That was a very quick mention of potential Red Hook transit updates, too.

Michael Dobie 2:49 p.m. And the tunnel, too. Lots of name-checking in effect. And for all the sturm und drang on property taxes, I didn’t hear a single idea.

Randi Marshall 2:50 p.m. It’s a who’s who of sports figures here at the State of the State.

Michael Dobie 2:51 p.m. Excuse me, don’t see Aaron Judge. Just sayin’.

Randi Marshall 2:53 p.m. Who needs Aaron Judge when you’ve got Brandon Nimmo??

Rita Ciolli 2:55 p.m. You need Aaron Judge . . .

Lane Filler 2:56 p.m. Cuomo was ferocious in his attack on the federal tax overhaul Republicans passed last month, characterizing it as a pointed attack on New York and other blue states to benefit Republican ones. He attacked the premise that corporate tax cuts would help workers, calling it “trickle down on steroids” that failed in the 1980s and will fail now. But he also laid out a multi-point plan to fight the changes. Cuomo says he will challenge the constitutionality of ending unlimited federal deductions for state and local taxes in court, calling it a violation of states’ rights and equal representation.

He said the state will start its own political “repeal and replace” effort. But his most intriguing promise was an exploration of revamping the state tax structure to somehow overcome the costs New Yorkers will incur from lost deductions. That would mean getting away from the state income tax and moving toward some other way of collecting revenue so that it can be deducted federally.

That will take creativity, and the two ideas Cuomo mentioned are, indeed, unusual. One is to turn to a “payroll tax” like the federal Medicare and Social Security levies that are tax deductible. Another is using charitable organizations to collect for taxing entities like school districts and towns, making such payments deductible. Lastly, he suggested going after the federal “carried interest loophole” that lets many high earners in the investment business pay low federal rates.

But it’s likely the way to do that would be a massive state tax increase on such earners.

Mark Chiusano 3:06 p.m. Well, on one thing Cuomo and de Blasio agree. Both quoted Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided speech in their remarks this week. For Cuomo, the phrase was evoked when talking about federal government’s divisiveness. De Blasio used it in a section about economic divisions.