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Enthusiastic Queens College Crowd Hears Cuomo's Budget Plans

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Governor Andrew Cuomo got a warm reception in his native borough when he brought his traveling fiscal roadshow to Queens College on Thursday, but not all the governor’s policy aims are in line with the city's. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is a self-described Queens boy.

“Grew up in Hollis, had an apartment, my first apartment, in Sunnyside, I had a house in Douglaston. And Queens has it all,” said Cuomo.

On Thursday, the audience at Queens College had a warm reception for the governor, who is traveling the state pushing his budget proposal.

“I’m always left with the sense that he is going to accomplish good things,” said Queens Councilwoman Jimmy Van Bramer.

One goal Cuomo wants to accomplish is to eliminate the city’s policy of fingerprinting applicants for food stamps.

“You don’t need fingerprinting. And if fingerprinting is stopping people from applying for food stamps so children are going to bed hungry, let’s do away with fingerprinting and let’s do away with fingerprinting now,” said the governor.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who did not attend Thursday’s speech, has vigorously defended the policy, saying it prevents fraud and he has sought to change the governor’s thinking, so far to no avail.

“I have my perspective. And I’ve not yet been dissuaded from my perspective, but we’re still talking,” said Cuomo.

Bloomberg has also backed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s push to raise the state minimum wage; Cuomo is for now not taking a position.

“I’m looking to see a proposal, a specific proposal, and then I’ll have a comment,” said Cuomo.

As one might expect, Cuomo also touted the one policy initiative that would have the most dramatic impact here in Queens — plans to build a $4 billion convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“My plan is, let’s build the largest convention center in the nation,” said the governor.

The complex would be financed entirely by Genting, the same firm that runs the video slot machines at Aqueduct. As for the idea Genting will in exchange expect the rights to build a full-blown casino here, Cuomo said he would not count on that just yet.

First, casino gambling must pass the state Legislature twice and then a voter referendum. In the governor’s words, it's three very big hurdles.

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