Governor Cuomo's presentation in Syracuse on Wednesday mixed hard truths and controversial plans with elements of humor and frankness. As in other recent speeches, Cuomo took said the state's powerful public employee and education unions are partially responsible for holding back progress.
"Don't kid yourself. They have a lot of money, they have a lot of power, they're campaign donors, they're very influential politically," said Cuomo.
Cuomo made it clear that one of his top priorities this year will be teacher evaluations. Two years after the state agreed to implement them - not one of New York's 738 school districts has implemented evaluation standards.
New York ranks first in spending per student but 38th in graduation rates. Cuomo took aim at unions again by saying everyone in the education business has a lobbyist in Albany - except the students he wants to represent.
"From focusing on the salaries and pensions of the people who work in the education system to the graduation rates and test results of the students," said Cuomo in his speech.
Cuomo knows his priorities will see resistance from unions and even within his own party - but he vowed to change business as usual in New York.
"Special interests only win in a vacuum. Special interests only win when the people are silent. I need to mobilize the people," said Cuomo after the speech.
Cuomo said that if the unions, school districts and state department of education can't agree on teacher evaluation standards by February 16, he will come up with his own plan.
A group of about 10 demonstrators gathered outside the OnCenter to protest the governor's visit.
You can see video of the small protest against fracking.