Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended 2017 with a couple more parting shots at Mayor Bill de Blasio, grousing Sunday about the failure to address homelessness and the city’s inability to move more quickly to reform Rikers Island.
“We have severe challenges next year. There is nothing we cannot do if we focus on it,” he said. “It is our apathy that stops us from solving these problems. There is no reason you have homeless people on the street in 2018. There’s no reason, but you chose not to do anything about it.”
Cuomo was taking a victory lap Sunday for an increase in the state minimum wage, paid family leave and a tax cut for the middle class — initiatives that all go into effect on New Year’s Day. At the tail end of his remarks, made at the West Side YMCA, he touched on both homelessness and Rikers — two issues that dogged de Blasio during his first term.
“There’s no reason why you leave young black men locked up in Rikers Island. Seventy-five percent haven’t even been convicted of a darn thing,” Cuomo continued. “None of these things have to be. We can change anything we want to change, and we’ve proven it over and over and over again.”
Cuomo offered the three policies that go into effect Monday as a stark contrast, framing them as an antidote to the federal government’s recent tax overhaul.
“They played the audience,” he said of the Trump administration. “It turned out to be a total scam.”
Cuomo did not mention either Trump or de Blasio by name.
De Blasio spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas defended his work on Rikers and the homeless problem.
“The mayor’s made dramatic progress in creating a corrections system that’s smaller and safer, and he’s following through on his commitment to close Rikers Island,” she said. “We’re pleased the governor is showing interest in this process.”
And, she said, ”The homelessness crisis in New York City is decades in the making. This is the first mayor who’s embarked on a real, comprehensive plan to change that.”
Starting Monday, New York City businesses that employ 11 or more workers will be required to pay $13 an hour, as opposed to the previous $11 hourly threshold.
All companies in the state will also have to allow paid leave for employees for the birth of a baby or when a worker’s family members are sick.