New York Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off his second term on Thursday, saying he is governing in “troubled times” and that education, the economy and rebuilding public trust in law enforcement would top his agenda over the next four years.
He lauded his first term as a success, saying the state now has a record 7.6 million jobs, a $5 billion budget surplus, effective and smart gun control laws, marriage equality and expanded healthcare that reaches 1.5 million people.
“Even with all we have done our task is far from complete,” Cuomo said in his inaugural address at the newly opened 1 World Trade Center in Manhattan, built after the twin towers of New York’s original World Trade Center were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Cuomo said education has become “the great discriminator,” and that there are two education systems in New York, one for the rich and one for the poor.
The governor also addressed the protests that followed a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white New York City policeman in last summer’s chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. He did not mention Garner by name, but said public trust in law enforcement needs to be rebuilt “both in perception and reality.”
The city has been beset by protests since the grand jury decision in November. Weeks later, a gunman vowing to avenge Garner’s death killed two NYPD officers sitting in their patrol car.
“The truth is the justice system does need review, there are troubling questions that need to be answered,” Cuomo said. “Law enforcement needs to respect the community and the community needs to respect law enforcement.”
Cuomo quoted his father, Mario Cuomo, who served three terms as the state’s governor, saying that despite these problems “We are the family of New York.”
The elder Cuomo was not able to attend the ceremony due to poor health.
New Yorkers “are a collection of the most daring, bold, accepting people from every country on the globe,” Cuomo told the crowd at his inauguration. “Every color, every creed is here in New York … working together to make our diversity a source of strength and not a weakness.”
Cuomo will deliver another inaugural speech in Buffalo at 4:30 p.m.
His new lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, a former Congresswoman from Buffalo, also took her oath of office at the ceremony.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by David Gregorio)