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Homes and Community Renewal

Governor Cuomo's Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Darryl Towns Brings "People First Campaign" to Elmira

Statewide campaign aimed at building public support for key legislative priorities including property tax cap, ethics reform and marriage equality

HCR Commissioner/CEO Darryl Towns discusses Governor Cuomo's agenda with members of the media after his ''People First Campaign'' presentation
HCR Commissioner/CEO Darryl Towns discusses Governor Cuomo's agenda with members of the media after his "People First Campaign" presentation.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner Darryl Towns today brought the "People First Campaign" to Corning Community College, where he outlined Governor Cuomo's legislative priorities and told New Yorkers that their voices must be heard in order to get Albany to act on these key reforms.

Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that he and his senior staff would tour the state in order to speak directly to the people of New York about, among other issues, creating a property tax cap, cleaning up Albany by passing ethics reform and passing a marriage equality bill. Governor Cuomo said that all of these issues must be addressed during the current legislative session and asked New Yorkers to call their legislators and urge them to act.

"Darryl Towns has traveled to Elmira to share our message of ethics reform, a property tax cap, and marriage equality," Governor Cuomo said. "We are speaking directly with New Yorkers because change happens when the people are active and engaged with their government. My team will be blanketing the state, bringing government to the people and working to get these important reforms accomplished during this legislative session."

The Governor's People First campaign focuses on three specific legislative priorities:

Property Tax Cap:

New Yorkers pay among the highest property taxes in the nation, forcing families to sell their homes and move out of state. Massive property tax increases also discourage businesses from investing and creating jobs. In the last decade, property taxes have increased a staggering 73 percent - that's twice the rate of inflation.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a comprehensive tax cap that would control property taxes. Under his plan:

Ultimately, the property tax cap would give much-needed relief to New York taxpayers and encourage local governments and school districts to be more efficient and make the most of their resources.

Ethics Reform:

New York State government used to be a symbol of integrity and performance, but we have lost that standard. To clean up the government and restore trust with New Yorkers, we need to pass a new ethics law that mandates transparency and full disclosure as well as a law that calls for a real independent monitor.

Among many reforms the Governor's ethics reform agenda would:

Marriage Equality:

Despite our state's proud tradition as the progressive capital of the nation, on the issue of marriage equality, New York has sadly lagged behind. While gay and lesbian New Yorkers can drive to Massachusetts or Connecticut to be married, such marriages are not permitted in New York. In the face of New York's failure to act and to lead, states like New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia have all recognized the importance of marriage equality and now allow same-sex couples to marry.

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said that it is time to for our state to retake our leading role in guaranteeing equal rights for all. This is about civil rights and equality. Denying marriage to all undermines the very dignity and legitimacy that our state routinely provides to other couples.

Barring marriage equality denies same-sex couples and their families over 1,000 federal and 700 state rights that are afforded to millions of New Yorkers. For instance, spouses have hospital visitation rights and can make medical decisions in the event of illness or disability. Employers offer spouses sick leave, bereavement leave as well as access to health insurance and pensions. Also, the law provides certain rights to a person's spouse regardless of whether or not a will exists. None of these rights exist for same-sex couples in the absence of marriage.

The Assembly has passed marriage equality legislation in previous legislative sessions but in 2009, the bill failed to pass the Senate.

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly indicated that for real reform to occur in New York, he must make his case directly to the people of the state. Explaining the issues and maintaining an open dialogue allows New Yorkers to form an opinion, organize, and make Albany act.

For more information about the People First tour, visit

Last Updated: 5/12/2011