Aug 5, 2020
Andrew Cuomo Speech Transcript at National Governors Association August 5
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the National Governors Association virtual meeting on August 5. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:01)
I got it. Larry, thank you very, very much. First to Bill McBride and the whole team of the NGA thank you very much for your service this year. To Governor Hogan, the honor was ours, Governor Hogan. The pressure was on and when the pressure is on, you can see what a person is really made of and you really rose to the occasion and we all owe you a big, big, thank you. I give you a virtual round of applause, Governor Hogan, and I know every governor joins me in doing exactly that. You’ve been a friend to us through this impossible past year and I look forward to relying on you as we go forward and continuing your counsel as I take the gavel from. I also look forward to working with our Vice Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson. We all thank Governor Hutchinson for his agreement to serve.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:54)
A question before us now as we wrap up this meeting is what should the NGA agenda be for the next year? It should adopt the agenda that is most relevant to the governors and I think we all know what that is. Frankly, my friends, I don’t think we have that many options this year. Next year’s agenda is not really going to be a question of discretion, but rather the dictation of reality. Our agenda is America’s recovery and revival.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:23)
First, we must manage the COVID virus until the vaccine is developed and we need the federal government to work with us in partnership in that effort. Second, we will need to deal with the undeniable consequences and effects of COVID, the economic damage that it has done is all across this country and the critical public health care needs that COVID has exposed and highlighted. Third, all this in the context of a new chapter in the federal state relationship. While I’m sure none of us wanted to be in the position of dealing with COVID the last six months have highlighted the importance and capacity of state governments. I think Bill McBride is exactly right. We now have shown what states can do when it’s time to reformulate and redefine the federal partnership. Especially in this coming year, when not only are we working through dealing with his pandemic, but we also have several critical legislative reauthorizations that are expiring.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:26)
As we gather today, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that COVID is a problem that affects every state in this nation. It is the great unifier. It doesn’t discriminate. This is a battle for all of us, and we know that we must resolve this virus together. We know that unless COVID is defeated everywhere, it won’t be defeated anywhere. COVID will ricochet across this country, bouncing from one state to another. The only course forward in both state’s self-interest and in our collective interest is to lock arms and to leave this virus no place to spread.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:09)
We all know the weapons needed for the war we must wage. We need unprecedented testing capacity and the supply chain to support it. We need contact tracing. We need stockpiles of PPE, medicine supplies, and we need an emergency surge capacity. We need financial support for our beleaguered hospitals. This nation has gone through MERS and SARS and Ebola and swine flu, and now COVID. No one can tell you the name of the next virus or bacteria that’s going to attack us, but everyone tells us that it’s just a matter of time and we have to be ready for it. So let’s institutionalize what we have learned so we’re better prepared for the next invasion and let us design and implement a new public health system for this nation, because we just cannot go through what we went through over these past few months again.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:06)
The COVID challenge goes even further, as we just heard from our Vice Chairman, Governor Asa Hutchinson, our schools are facing unprecedented challenges. They must now not only educate our students, they also have to keep them safe from this deadly virus. It’s an entirely new undertaking and the states will work with them, but we also need federal support. None of this is going to be easy, but all of it is achievable.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:33)
At the same time, we must deal with the secondary effects of COVID. It has wreaked havoc on this nation’s economy, governor Hogan is exactly right, and you can quantify the damage by adding together the jobs lost and the deficits of all our states. All major economists agree that without providing financial assistance for state and local governments the economy will not rebound as quickly as it would otherwise. Federal Chairman Powell, Fed chairman Bernanke, economists all across the board agree. The NGA is United in telling our Washington colleagues that they must include 500 billion in unrestricted state funding in the upcoming COVID response legislation. That is a top NGA priority by a unified NGA.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:33)
This is also the moment to implement the agenda the NGA developed last year under Governor Hogan’s leadership. This is the moment to invest in infrastructure. We need to reinvigorate the economy and we need to replace aging infrastructure, we’ve all talked about it for decades, but this is the moment to finally do it. Let the federal government provide the funds and let the states build it. Finally, the federal state relationship that has always been a dynamic tension since it was first embodied in our constitution by our founding fathers, there are checks and balances, and there is a federal and state dynamic tension that was written into the constitution. But there has never been a moment where state governments have been more instrumental in the lives of the people of this country. State governments are now at the forefront, and it is a new chapter in the governance of this country.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:33)
This coming year states will not only be laboratories of democracy, we will also be the engines of economic renewal, and we will also be the innovators of a new public health system institutionalizing what we learned. There is tremendous possibility in the nation’s recognition of the full potential of state governments. Most of all, we are committed to achieving progress, that is the essence of our role as governors. That is what we do. As governors we all know that at the end of the day, there is no red and blue, all our states have both. We understand that we govern for the red, the white and blue. That’s what we do.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:26)
This next year will be challenging for sure, but all battles are hard and ours could not have a more noble or righteous purpose. I’m honored to be standing beside all of you as we lead this nation forward. I’m honored to be taking the gavel from Governor Hogan and the great executive committee, I’m grateful to be serving with a Great Fives chairman, Governor Hutchinson. With that, I conclude the 112th NGA annual meeting. That was a bang of the gavel.