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Gov. Cuomo speech offers tax freeze, airport help

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Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a broad election-year agenda in a State of the State speech Wednesday promoting a property tax freeze, tougher anti-corruption laws and a modernization of New York City's airports.

Cuomo is seeking a second term this year and the speech gave him a high-profile forum to promote his first three years while unveiling an agenda with elements that will please both social progressives and financial conservatives.

The governor gave an early look this week at a sweeping $2 billion tax relief proposal that includes property tax rebates for homeowners in municipalities that meet tax thresholds and a cut in corporate tax rates.

In the speech, he also announced new initiatives designed to attract more international business to the state and to increase exports, a timetable for casino development, starting with the appointment of a siting board this month, and a commitment to upgrade Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York City.

He also said he will promote expanded solar power and technology in classrooms.

With a series of public corruption cases roiling the Legislature, Cuomo called for increased penalties for official misconduct and tighter disclosure rules that require greater disclosure of conflicts of interest.

Cuomo also is expected to reveal new details of his plan to allow 20 hospitals statewide to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer and some other severe ailments. Cuomo's medical marijuana plan will be enacted by executive order, not legislation, and will be more restrictive than programs in some other states like California.

The limited plan was greeted by some in Cuomo's Democratic base, though advocates want a more sweeping legalization of marijuana.

An added wrinkle this year is the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, who is attending Cuomo's speech. De Blasio, a Democrat, met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Wednesday morning, and the pair said they would push for universal pre-kindergarten, which was a key campaign platform for de Blasio, supported by a tax on the wealthy in the city. Cuomo is focused on cutting taxes.

In a document accompanying his Wednesday address, Cuomo said, "It is time to fulfill the state's goal" of providing access for all children to all-day pre-kindergarten. But Cuomo did not mention how to pay for it and said earlier in the week that it will have to be worked out with the Legislature.

Cuomo will have to shepherd his legislative proposals through a Legislature that remains in split control. The Assembly's Democratic majority has already called for another state minimum wage hike, mirroring Democrats around the nation backing the populist issue.

Republicans who rule the state Senate in a coalition with breakaway Democrats have said their priority is a tax-cut package that includes corporate tax rate reductions and permanently capping property taxes.

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