The Prohibition Party of New York issued its response to Governor Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State Address. The party released a six-page document critically evaluating the governor’s address and providing their own vision and proposals for state policy.
The Prohibition Party of New York responded to governor Cuomo’s statements about the federal government’s failures in responding to the coronavirus, by stating that the Cuomo administration’s response also had its own flaws which exacerbated the situation. They criticized the Cuomo administration for its initial hesitancy in responding to the coronavirus, for its policy of requiring nursing homes to take in patients diagnosed with the coronavirus, for trying to make cuts to Medicaid during a global pandemic, for its decision to categorize liquor stores as essential business and weakening restrictions on alcohol sales (despite warnings of the harms of rising and alcohol use and information indicating that alcohol use increased susceptibility to the coronavirus), for failing to properly address the interconnected issues of rising alcohol use, drug use, and domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak, and for using the situation with the coronavirus and the state budget to pressure the legislature into granting Cuomo almost unilateral powers to make cuts to the state budget and to make anti-democratic changes to state ballot access laws.
The Prohibition Party of New York gave a mixed assessment of the governor’s proposals. The party stated their opposition to the governor’s proposals to legalize recreational marijuana sales and online sports betting. The party characterized both proposals as misguided regressive ideas, which allowed for people to be exploited for profit, without regards for the negative effects that such things would have for people and society, and the damaging effect caused by marijuana and gambling would end up costing the state, in the long run, more than it would get in revenue from them. They stated that governor Cuomo’s claims that legalizing marijuana would serve a social justice function were false and disingenuous. They contended that legalizing marijuana would do nothing to address the underlying systemic issues that produce inequalities in law enforcement, would reinforce systemic inequalities while pretending to address them, and would lead to marijuana companies disproportionately targeting and exploiting poor and minority communities (as it does in other states) for their own profit. The party gave a more positive response to the governor’s proposals to expand the development of green energy in the state, to pass a law prohibiting utility companies from cutting services to homes during a state of emergency, and to expand telehealth services in the state. They also expressed some general approval for Cuomo’s proposal to create an initiative to educate the public about how to respond to public health crises, but wanted to get some more details about what it would involve, and whether it would educate merely about pathogenic based health crises or all types of health crises.
The Prohibition Party of New York gave a more extended critique of Governor Cuomo’s role in changing the state’s ballot access laws. Last April, the state’s ballot access laws were changed to massively increase the requirements for minor party and independent candidates to get on the ballot for statewide offices, and massively increased the requirements for a party to gain and retain statewide ballot access. The number of signatures needed for an independent candidate or candidate of a party without statewide ballot access was increased from 15,000 to 45,000. The requirements for statewide ballot access was changed from getting at least 50,000 votes for governor for 4 years of ballot access, to having to receive at least 130,000 votes or 2% of the vote (whichever is more) for governor or for president for two years of statewide ballot access. These changes have so far resulted in 4 parties losing ballot access in the state, and are being challenged in court by several parties. The Prohibition Party of New York contended these changes as “a blatantly anti-democratic effort to block minor party and independent candidates from the ballot and to deprive voters of many of their existing options on the ballot.” They state that Cuomo and his coconspirators in the state legislature acted to weaken the state’s democratic system for their own gain and showed a blatantly anti-democratic attitude towards New Yorkers who chose to affiliate with alternative parties or to be independents. They contended that Governor Cuomo was a hypocrite for using issues such as expanding absentee voting and creating an automatic voter registration system to portray himself as supporting democracy while having worked to create anti-democratic changes to the state’s ballot laws.
The Prohibition Party of New York completed its response by putting forward its own vision for state policy and actions. This included working to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, minimize deaths, improve vaccination efforts, and working to get the coronavirus under control. It including working to rebuild the state’s economy in a sensible manner; taking a holistic approach to economic development, rather than supporting businesses that exploit and harm the public. Their other positions included expanding education, presentation, and cessation efforts for alcohol and other drugs, increasing restrictions on the sale of alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, enacting stronger anti-corruption laws for state officials, improving the condition of law enforcement, revoking changes to the state’s ballot access laws, expanding the state’s tuition assistance program, abolishing the statute of limitations for rape, and sexual assault, and the sexual abuse of children, creating a state database for those convicted of domestic violence, improving services for disabled New Yorkers, developing green energy, and improving the state’s infrastructure.
They ended their response with an appeal to the people of New York state to join them in their efforts to reform the state.