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Jan 11, 5:29 PM EST

Cuomo urges ethics reforms, approval of Uber's expansion



SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state officials must do more to address public corruption and urged the approval of Uber's upstate expansion as he ended his six-city state of the state tour Wednesday with stops in Syracuse and Albany.

Addressing the perennial problem of Albany corruption, the Democrat said he wants a constitutional amendment approved for the ballot that would limit lawmaker's outside income and would impose eight-year term limits on statewide officials and legislators. He is also proposing tighter campaign finance rules and expanded powers for the state inspector general.

"State government must do more to restore the public trust," Cuomo said. "We must take action to show the people of this state that we get it and that when someone does something wrong, they are punished to the full extent of the law and we have a system that is going to catch them."

Cuomo announced many of his ethics proposals last year and their prospects of passage this year is no better. Term limits remain deeply unpopular with many lawmakers, and many others object to restrictions on what they can earn from outside jobs.

"Term limits are not something that the conference supports," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said last month, referring to the Democratic majority he leads in the Assembly.

On Wednesday, Heastie was more circumspect, with spokesman Michael Whyland saying only that "the governor has made a number of proposals over the past few days and we will review them."

Cuomo won big applause from his upstate audiences when he called on lawmakers to quickly pass legislation authorizing Uber and Lyft to expand into Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and other communities outside New York. The ride-hailing services are now limited by law to operating in the New York City area.

"Tell your legislators don't come home unless you come home in an Uber or a Lyft," he joked in Syracuse.

The governor also chose Syracuse to announce a "buy American" proposal that would give domestic companies preference in state purchases of $100,000 or more.

Earlier in the week, Cuomo unveiled plans to make state college tuition free to middle-class students, invest $2 billion in water quality and infrastructure, expand a child-care tax credit and rewrite state voting laws to make it easier to cast a ballot.

The details of many of Cuomo's proposals won't be known until the administration releases its proposed state budget in coming weeks.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said that while he has big questions about how Cuomo intends to pay for some of his proposals, he supports Cuomo's call to allow Uber and Lyft to expand upstate, as well as a handful of other proposals.

"There is certainly some common ground," he said.

Governors typically deliver a single state of the state address to lawmakers in or near the state Capitol in Albany. This year, Cuomo broke with tradition by doing six speeches in different regions of the state - New York City, Buffalo, Long Island, Westchester County, Syracuse and Albany, where he spoke at a state university theater and not the Capitol.

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