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Cuomo talks education and ethics reforms in visit to Syracuse

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a stop in Syracuse Wednesday he cares more about upstate New York than previous administrations.

Cuomo says investments in nanotech in Albany and the Buffalo Billion are paying off for those regions. He’s put forward a competition plan for other regions, like Syracuse, to compete for a half billion in aid. And he wants to expand broadband internet coverage across upstate.

Cuomo spent a significant amount of his speech at SUNY-ESF talking about education reform.

The Democrat says it should be easier to fire teachers who are failing and schools that are not meeting standards should be under new management or closed. 

"And 250,000 students were in essence condemned to go to failing schools. Why? Because we didn’t want to make the change. Why? Because it was too hard to make the change," he said.

Cuomo wants to change teacher evaluations, but offer financial bonuses to teachers who do well. He says if the legislature passes all of his education reforms, he would support an additional billion dollars in education funding on top of the increase already in the budget proposal.

"Which would literally be a jet engine on this transformation plan," he said. "You give us these laws, I get you this funding, we’ll transform the public education system overnight."

The governor also says he wants to turn the state fair in suburban Syracuse into a year-round destination by investing $50 million into the grounds. But he wouldn’t detail how to reporters covering his speech.

Cuomo did outlined his ethics reform package, which includes stricter financial disclosure of lawmakers outside income. He is threatening to wreck a favorite bragging point in order to get the ethics reform package he wants through the legislature saying he’ll break his four consecutive on-time budget streak and won’t sign a state budget unless it includes ethics items he says are the “ultimate” in disclosure.

"That I believe is the only way this is going to really be resolved. Otherwise we’re going to watch this movie over and over and over again," he said to reporters.

The legislature passed limited ethics reform last year, but only after the governor enacted a special panel to investigate them. He then shuttered the panel when he got his ethics reforms, which he has been criticized for. The recent arrest of the Assembly speaker on corruption charges are reignited the issue. 

"This is the only way it’s going to happen," he said. "And I’ve been at this too long and I’ve been at it too much to stay on this merry-go-round. And it’s the only way it ends, I’m sure of that."