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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Andrew Cuomo's Inauguration Speech: Vows Less Corruption & Fiscal Responsibility For New Yorkers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Inaugural Pledge: New York Won't Be "A National Punchline"

Gov. Cuomo delivered an impassioned Inaugural address Saturday as he enlisted the public to help repair a state government that's become "a national punchline."

"And the joke is on us," Cuomo said during an austere State Capitol ceremony. "Too often government responds to the whispers of the lobbyists before the cries of the people."

Addressing about 175 people in a small ceremonial room, the state's 56th governor said New York "faces a budget deficit and a competence deficit, and an integrity deficit and a trust deficit."

"Those are the obstacles we really face," he said soberly.

Before beginning his speech, Cuomo blew a kiss to his parents, former Gov. Mario Cuomo and his mom, ex-First Lady Matilda, who were seated in the front row.

Moments earlier Cuomo's girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, held the Bible as the new governor took a ceremonial oath of office administered by the state's top judge, Jonathan Lippman. Cuomo's parents and three teenage daughters looked on from the stage.

Cuomo was sworn in privately at the governor's mansion Friday night.

In his first act as governor, Cuomo symbolically moved toward his promise of making government more accessible to the people.He ordered the removal of concrete barriers in front of the Capitol, which had been erected after the 9/11 attacks.

The Democrat also opened up the historic Hall of Governors that houses his office. The wing had been sealed off from the public by former Gov. George Pataki in the mid-1990s, leading to the moniker "Fort Pataki."

In announcing the moves during his inaugural address, Cuomo told a story about how he recently saw a girl touring an empty Capitol and asking her mother, "where are the people?"

"This Capitol has become a physical metaphor for the isolation and alienation of our people," he said.

Vowing to "lift the veil of secrecy that now surrounds Albany," Cuomo said "the potential power of the governor is to mobilize the people of the state of New York."

"Only the people's voices can silence the calls of the special interests in the halls of the Capitol."

Cuomo, 53, comes into office facing a $10 billion budget deficit, a sluggish economy and a government embroiled in a host of ethical scandals.

To fix it, he said he plans to take on powerful special interests and "long-entrenched patterns of behavior" at the Capitol.

In his State-of-the-State address set for Wednesday, he said he'll unveil an "emergency financial reinvention plan" to deal with the deficit and lay out his plans to "right-size" a bloated government.

He promised he'll push to cap property taxes — and later told reporters he opposes renewing an income tax surcharge on those making more than $200,000 that is set to expire.

He also said he won't stop nearly 900 layoffs ordered by his predecessor David Paterson — and did not rule out more.

To fix Albany, Cuomo recognized he needs the public on his side — and notoriously fussy state lawmakers, too.

He extended an olive branch to legislators, including Republicans, in asking for a new partnership.

"I will not govern in a partisan way and my administration will not be a partisan administration," he said.

Incoming Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos praised Cuomo for striking the right tone.

"I think he's reaching out to the Legislature, understanding that we are part of the solution here," he said. "Too often we've been part of the problem."

Also sworn in were Cuomo's Lt. Gov., Robert Duffy, successor as attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and Controller Thomas DiNapoli.

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Sources: Daily Beast, NY Daily News, NY Times, Youtube, Google Maps

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