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Cuomo's State of the State Draws Mixed Reactions From Local Leaders

By Kerry Longobucco.
Infrastructure, poverty and minimum wage were all hot topics at the 2016 State of the State address. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) drew tremendous applause for some aspects of his proposal -- but others had area politicians shaking their heads.

Binghamton is included in Cuomo's $25 million strategy to combat poverty. Mayor Rich David (R) looks forward to receiving funding to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty plan.

"There is a very serious poverty problem in Binghamton. Forty percent of children in general live in poverty," David said. "We want to make sure no one is left out of our plan to attack poverty in the city."

Local leaders were pleased to see Cuomo making it a priority to update aging upstate infrastructure. State Senator James Seward (R) says it's due time upstate sees fair funding.

"When it comes to the $22 billion, five year, comprehensive plan for our roads and bridges, other infrastructure in the upstate region," Seward said. That puts us on par with the committed state money that goes into the mass transit system down in the New York City area."

But it was Cuomo's pledge to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers by 2021 that drew the most controversy.

"Even if it's implemented over four or five years, I believe it's going to be way too aggressive on our economy," Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R) said. "We're going to lose some mom-and-pop businesses, we're actually going to lose some of the lower end jobs."

"What works in Manhattan and Brooklyn doesn't necessarily work in binghamton and out west in Jamestown," Akshar said. "We have to do our best to create a better business environment for the people who are working hard every single day to make payroll, and to employ people."

But when it comes to his 'Fight for 15', Cuomo can count on the support of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D).

"The $15 minimum wage the governor is proposing would take 5 years to phase in to upstate New York," Lupardo said. "So I think it's certainly fair, and worth looking at."

Regardless of where they stand on the issues, area politicians agree the governor has set forward an ambitious plan - but also an expensive one.

Akshar says the devil is in the details when coming up with the money to put behind such a budget -- and he looks forward to seeing the details of Cuomo's proposal.