(Adds governor’s comments in the fourth paragraph.)
Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Andrew Cuomo, taking the oath of office as New York’s 56th governor today, said he stands by his plan to cap the growth of local property taxes because the state’s residents can’t afford to pay more.
The governor, in a 27-minute inaugural speech in Albany, said his attack on the state’s budget deficit, estimated as high as $11 billion, will begin with an “emergency financial reinvention” plan he will detail in his state-of-the-State speech Jan. 5. Financial changes must be accompanied by higher ethical standards and a more open government, he said.
Cuomo, 53, a Democrat, won election Nov. 2 with 61 percent of the vote after pledging to stand up to the state’s Legislature and freeze state taxes. The reluctance of lawmakers to cut state spending delayed approval of the budget until four months after the fiscal year began, and left the state with a $1 billion gap in the current year.
“We will be taking on powerful interests and long entrenched patterns of behavior,” Cuomo said.
The son of former governor Mario Cuomo steps into the office after four years as attorney general. He called for cooperation from state workers and legislators of both parties. Cuomo won election without the support of state workers’ unions.
Attendance at the inauguration was limited to about 200 family, friends and top legislators, a sign Cuomo said of the “austere” times the state faces.
The ceremony was held in the Capitol Building’s so-called War Room under a domed ceiling covered with murals of scenes from state history.
One sign of a more-accessible government was evident before the inauguration ceremony, as workers began removing concrete barriers from a street adjacent to the Capitol Building. They were placed there soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and aren’t needed for security, Cuomo said at a press conference after his speech.
--Editors: Ted Bunker, Sylvia Wier
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