Apr 7, 2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 7
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on April 7, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus and vaccine updates for New York here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Good morning, everyone. It’s a great day in the state of New York today. A great day for progress. So congratulations to everyone. Let me introduce who we have here. First, the man of the hour, the budget director, Robert Mujica. He’s happy today. I know it’s hard to tell with the mask and all, but he is happy and he should be. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To my right, Beth Garvey, counsel. To her right, Kelly Cummings, director of operations. To her right, Dana Carotenuto. Easy for me to say, deputy secretary.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:40)
A lot of information to go through. This budget is certainly the most robust, most impactful, most important budget that we have done in this state, I believe in modern history. It’s the budget for fiscal year 2022. And it is the most important plan that the state has done. A budget really isn’t a budget, it’s not just about the numbers. It’s an action plan for the future. And this one is a three year COVID management, recovery and renewal plan. This is a different time in history, my friends. We haven’t been here before. We have challenges that we’ve never had before. On the same hand, we have opportunities that we never had before.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:35)
We have COVID, that is still very much alive and well, and it is still causing deaths and we cannot move past that. It has to be our main focus, we have to manage COVID and then we have to appreciate that COVID is not just a New York experience, not just the United States experience. It is a global crisis. And in that crisis, the recovery of COVID creates an opportunity. The future belongs to the economy and the region that adjusts to our new reality the fastest. And I think this is an opportunity for New York to capitalize, COVID is not just going to go away. COVID had transformative impacts on society. And I think it’s important to realize that, if you just think that COVID is going to pass like a season and everything is going to go back to normal, then I think you fail to understand the impact of what we just went through.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:43)
So our plan, we have three main goals. Number one, manage COVID, number two, is COVID relief. Make up for the damage that has been done over the past year. And third, seize this moment to actually reposition New York, reimagine New York, reconstruct New York, renew New York for the next 20, 30, 40 years. The budget on the numbers, federal aid unrestricted was $12.6 billion. I had asked the federal government numerous times for $15 billion. The federal government, our delegation worked very hard, but we didn’t get the $15 billion. We got $12.6 billion unrestricted aid. New York state revenues provided an additional five billion.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:38)
What this budget does is it has a PIT surcharge and a corporate franchise tax. There are no other taxes, just those two taxes. In the first year, the PIT surcharge raises 2.7 billion, 750 million from the corporate franchise. So it’s 3. 5 billion raised in the first year. In the second year, those two taxes will raise 4.3 billion. There will be no capital gains tax. There will be no estate tax. The feeling was that those taxes would do damage to the state and actually cost the state more money than we would raise. The PIT top rates start from 25 million plus, it goes eight, eight, two to ten, nine. Five to 25, 8.8 to 10.3, five million, 8.8 to 9.65. The corporate franchise tax is five million plus at 7.2, that is only in effect for three years.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:49)
These tax changes anticipate the repeal of SALT. When SALT is repealed taxes net in New York state will be lower, taxes net in New York state will be lower. That’s very important to remember. Taxes, go up. No. SALT, will reduce the tax impact by 37%. So when SALT is repealed, the taxes will be going down. SALT has been a major topic for years. If I haven’t said that word SALT one million times, I’ve never mentioned it. The federal Senate and the House of Representatives have promised to repeal SALT. When SALT was passed, it was passed during the Trump administration. It was a targeted assault on New York state and several other states.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:59)
Every Senator from New York, every House representative said, promised, repealing SALT will be a top priority. I have personally appealed to President Joe Biden, along with other governors. SALT must be repealed. We fully expect it to be repealed. I do not believe the federal government can pass another tax plan without repealing SALT and believe that they can come home to New York. When that happens, there will be a net reduction in taxes. So when you talk about this tax package, you cannot talk about it without anticipating a SALT repeal and SALT is essential to give our taxpayers fairness and relief. SALT costs us $13 billion more per year, since it was instituted by the Trump administration. And it was a political assault on this state. So it must be repealed. When it is repealed, you’ll see actually a net tax reduction in New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:12)
The three main goals, COVID management. COVID is still a threat. I was on the telephone with the White House yesterday, Dr. Fauci, Vice President Harris, the White House COVID Task Force. And again, they all say basically the same thing, that we know. This is a race between the increase in COVID infection and how quickly we increase vaccinations. That’s what this is about. There is a threat of COVID variance. There is a threat that a variant could develop that could be vaccine resistant. Getting the vaccinations is the top priority, but it is still very much here with us and I understand COVID fatigue. And I understand we’ve been doing this for a long time and people just want to move on, but that denies reality.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:10)
Fifty-nine New Yorkers died yesterday from COVID, 400 New Yorkers died over the last week from COVID. We’re not past COVID and a denial of a problem is a sure way to be overcome by the problem. So COVID management is our first priority. Vaccinating New Yorkers is my first priority, and we’ve done it many different, ways with many different campaigns, but we have to get it done. Increasing our testing, increasing our vaccination efforts, making sure vaccines are available, free, equitable. Today, every New Yorker is eligible for a vaccine.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:02)
So it becomes getting the supply from Washington, having the distribution network and then convincing New Yorkers of the need to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. We’re operating vaccination centers all across this state. You have the mass vaccination sites, which are the most effective in terms of throughput and volume. If you ask me what is the fastest way to vaccinate? It’s our mass vaccination sites. I was at Javits Center yesterday. It’s one of the best vaccination sites in the United States of America. And it’s a beautiful demonstration of the state’s work. And the mass vaccination sites are very fast, but we also want to make sure this is done equitably. So we also set up smaller sites in nursing homes, in public housing, in communities of color, in houses of worship, to make sure we are equitably distributing the vaccine. And again, we’re reaching the point where the tall straw is going to be getting New Yorkers to step up and make the appointment and understand that everybody has to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity. We’re going to launch a public education campaign. We opened one, two days ago, the Roll Up Your Sleeves campaign. Yesterday, we started the Get Vaccinated campaign, explaining to people that it’s not just about you. It’s about the people who you can affect. This is safe. Over 10 million New Yorkers have taking the vaccine. It’s safe. It’s your citizen duty to take the vaccine.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:05)
We also want to learn from what we went through and we’re going to have certain reforms post COVID and they’re in this plan. Increasing access to telehealth for all New Yorkers. This was an eye opener. Telemedicine works, telehealth works. You don’t have to show up in the doctor’s office for everything. It can be very efficient and effective. If you are broadband service, if your health care provider uses it, but we want to make massive strides in telehealth. We are also setting up a new type of public health core. What this really requires in a pandemic, is an emergency management response for public health. It’s not what agencies normally do. The Department of Health is not an emergency room response agency. It’s a regulatory agency.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:06)
So we’re going to hire 1,000 public health core, fellows who will be trained to do just this. Rapid response, get in a car, get in a van, drive to locations, knock on doors. That doesn’t exist for our Department of Health today. It doesn’t exist really for any Department of Health across the country. I’ve spoken to many governors about it. We have emergency management, but it has always been more geared towards, natural disasters, hurricanes, floods, et cetera, snow storms. We’ve done that quite well. We need an emergency response capacity for a public health crisis, and we’ll develop that.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:52)
We also have to educate our citizens. We had a big problem here with the anxiety, the unknown. What is COVID? I can’t see it. I can’t feel it. What are the real facts? And that anxiety creates a problem in and of itself. We’ve developed a course with Cornell University. Thank you very much Cornell. It’s free, it’s online. It’s a 16 hour course. People can take it. It’s informative. It’s smart, it’s Cornell professors and educate yourself. So you know not just what COVID is about, but what the next one will be about. And when the next one happens, be in a position to protect yourself, protect your family, protect your children, protect your community. And be in a position where, if you want to be a volunteer for the community response, you can be. So that is also funded in this plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:56)
Eliminating health care premiums. We eliminate health care premiums for more than 400,000 New Yorkers, because COVID showed us we need health care as a human right. Mental health and addiction, we’re launching 24 hour urgent care centers. This is an unforeseen, but very real by-product of COVID, has been the mental health. The stress, the isolation, the addiction problems, the domestic violence problems and we have to recognize it for what it is. And we have to address it. COVID relief, people were devastated by COVID and what happened with the economy. And before you can move forward, you have to stabilize society and that’s COVID relief. Two point four billion emergency rental assistance program. People have to be able to pay their rent. People have to be able to have a stable home.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:07)
I was at one time, the housing secretary for this nation, it starts with a home. It starts with that stability, where you are comfortable, your base, your family’s base. We’ve had eviction moratoriums, but now we want to repair the economics. Rent has to be paid, but tenants need the assistance to pay their rent. Landlords have to pay their taxes and their heat bill, et cetera. So $2.4 billion for that. We also want to make sure that there’s enough fair and safe housing. And we’re investing in capital construction and public housing and transitional rent supplement program and $128 million for homeless housing. We’ve had a significant increase in homelessness during this COVID crisis and we want to address that. We will also turn lemons into lemonade. We expect to see vacancy in commercial property and hotel properties. The workplace has changed.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:17)
Let’s be creative and fast and smart about reusing vacant commercial space and turning it into permanent affordable housing, which is what we need anyway, more affordable housing. So if, you’re going to have vacant commercial, how do we quickly turn it into permanent affordable housing. Reopening small businesses, which took it right on the chin and the arts, which is so vital to New York. It’s vital to tourism, it’s vital to our spirit. It’s vital to who we are. We are the arts capital of the world, in my opinion. One billion to help small businesses, who didn’t have the resources to fall back on. Bringing back the arts and cultural organizations with recovery grants.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:12)
Restaurants, which were cooperative all through this. The owners of restaurants did extraordinary things to keep their employees working. We want to make sure now, that they have the financial resources to return. As well as musical and theatrical productions across the state. Helping the middle class, we have a tax cut for the middle class in this proposal. It reduces the personal income tax saving 4.8 million New Yorkers over $2.2 billion this year. So it’s a significant middle-class tax cut because they were also economically devastated by COVID. Also, increasing the childcare credit, $2.3 billion in federal resources to provide high quality childcare, so we can get back to work.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:14)
We’re also going to repay our state workers. I want to say a special thank you to the state workers. We delayed payment to the state workers because of the fiscal crisis we were in. We’re going to repay that $600 million to the state workers, many represented by CSEA and PEF. But I also want to say to the state workers, thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. We asked you to do really, important, important work. We asked you to leave your home every day and expose yourself to danger, so other people could stay home and be safe. That safe home order, when I said everybody stay home, stay safe at home. Yes, but that required all sorts of other people to go to work, so you could stay home.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:19)
We still had to operate the trains and the buses and the schools, phones had to work, lights had to work. Construction had to go on. Those state workers showed up, so people could stay home. And to me, they are truly heroes of this COVID crisis. So we say, thank you. Support for excluded and unemployed workers, just because you’re undocumented doesn’t mean we don’t care and we don’t have compassion and we don’t want to help. It is difficult to do it in a way that can be administered without fraud. And that’s obviously a major concern for us, that we protect every tax dollar. We ran an unemployment insurance program for citizens of the state, and there was tremendous fraud. Even though, we took significant measures.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:22)
On this program, we’ll ask the controller to review it before it is administered. The controller’s job is to audit state funds. After a program is run, the controller will come back and do an audit and said, “You did this wrong, this wrong, this wrong, this wrong.” In this case, we’re asking the controller to look at the program first to make sure the way it is designed there are fraud protections, and we’re asking the attorney general to specifically review the program, the guidelines, the rules …
Andrew Cuomo: (21:03)
The program, the guidelines, the rules to make sure there are anti-fraud protections. And if there is any fraud or anyone intends to commit a fraud, that the program is designed in a way that will prevent that. We want 100% integrity for tax dollars. Until the Attorney General reviews and signs off on the program, we will not implement the program because we want New Yorkers to know, yes, we’re compassionate and we’re doing the right thing, but we’re also doing it smartly and intelligently. And the Attorney General’s approval of the program will do just that. Many people went hungry, $50 million for the Nourish New York, Helping Hungry New Yorkers and local farmers. It’s common sense. We have farmers in the state who was struggling. By-product from farmers in the state, help them economically and feed our people.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:06)
And third, and probably long-term the most important is investing in New York’s future. We have to recover here on many levels, economically psychically, socially, we have to recover. But we also have to recover as a state and that doesn’t just happen, we are going to have to make it happen. So the New York Recovery, Relief, Reimagination of New York, the Reconstruction of New York, the Renewal of New York. How do you rebuild New York and how do you do it better? And how do you do it smarter than before? When I was in the federal government, I used to do disaster relief. And I remember standing in front of a home that was flood damaged and floods sounds like water comes in and water goes out. That’s not what a flood is about. A flood is nasty. It brings mud. It brings all sorts of debris. It damages everything it touches.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:19)
And a family was picking through their belongings and it was a very sad sight. And the father of the family called them over and had them stand looking at this destroyed home and many were distraught and they were crying. And the father said, “Think about what the new house is going to look like. Now we can get rid of that old refrigerator. Now we can build a new family room. We can redo the basement.” You’re not going to replace what was, life is not about going backwards. Life is about going forward. And yes, this has been a significant period of loss and damage. Fine. How do you rebuild better? There were things that we needed to do better anyway, so seize this moment to make it happen and seize the opportunity to lead in this post-COVID world. We’re going to have, and just are approving, when the Assembly finishes voting, the largest building program in modern history in the state of New York. It will be large because we need large scale development.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:51)
It will be fast because we have to do it quickly. And it will be transformative, it will take this state from yesterday to tomorrow and use this as a point of renewal. We’re going to be the green energy capital of the nation, period, the largest offshore wind program in the nation, making global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse right here in New York with Buy American provisions. A new, super highway to get that green energy from upstate from Long Island from the ocean to the markets that need it. Retrofit buses and move towards electric, because that is the future and teach people these new job skills, because they are the jobs of the future, the green jobs. Establish prevailing wage for projects, getting renewable energy credits. Everybody says the future is the green economy. Every politician gets up and gives that speech. Everybody passes a piece of legislation saying we should have goals to be a green economy.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:14)
Yeah. Goals mean nothing unless you are actually implementing them with a plan to get there and this state is doing just that. Over 100 projects, wind projects, solar projects, hydro projects, and an entire new transmission grid that gets those renewable energy sources to the parts of the state that need it. The single most ambitious green economy plan in the country. More economic development, because it is about jobs. 220 million for the New York Works Economic Development Fund. Downtown reinvestment, you have all those beautiful downtown areas. Reinvest in downtown, put Main Street back together to make it viable. Use MWBEs. A new round of REDC awards and fund and boost tourism, which is one of our major economic engines in this state.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:29)
And this issue, police reform, is normally not something people think about when they think about economic development, but you want to know one of the first questions a family asks before they move into the area or a business asks before they move into the area? Is it safe? Is it safe? Do you know what are the top priorities for government still, public safety. We’ve gone through a national crisis with George Floyd’s murder. It was a national crisis. It was also a point for reform. When a social issue is raised up and people demonstrate and they voice concern and opposition, that moment must be seized. They’re voicing a problem. Don’t deny it. Don’t ignore it. grab it and resolve it and move forward. George Floyd’s killing was one in a long series of cases of police abuse. We’ve gone through this in New York for decades. Eric Garner on Staten Island.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:52)
There’s 20 examples in this state, but George Floyd, the people of this nation said enough is enough. And they were right. They were right. They were saying we’ve lost trust in the police. And the relationship has deteriorated. And by the way, the police were saying, the relationship has deteriorated and it doesn’t work, if the police relationship with the community doesn’t work. And that’s what the George Floyd protests were all about. Now, most governments turned a blind eye. And I had hundreds of conversations with local officials. And I said, this is a moment for reform. Put the police at the table, put the community at the table, talk it through. That’s the only way to resolve a tension in a relationship. Talk it through. Tell me your grievance, tell me your problem. And then let’s out how to compromise and how to get to a relationship that is functional rather than dysfunctional. But politicians don’t like to get involved in controversial issues.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:10)
Why? Because they are controversial and you can’t make everybody happy. And a lot of politicians take the posture, well, if I can’t make everybody happy, I’m staying away from that issue. Oh, some people oppose it? Well, then I don’t want to take the position. Ignoring a problem, solves nothing. That is a life motto I tell my kids every day. It’s also true for government. We said with a nation that was paralyzed on this issue, we said in New York every local government that has a police department has to go through a collaborative process, come up with a public safety reform plan, have the police at the table and the community at the table, come up with a public safety reform plan, pass it by your city council so it’s not just another speech or political polemic. Pass it by the city council, or when we do the budget, a monitor will be put in place and you will lose up to 50% of your funds.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:22)
We have 497 jurisdictions that have police departments just in our state. Think about that, 497. 450 of the 497 have submitted past plans to reform and re-invent their public safety department. That is a phenomenal accomplishment. If they do not, we said, we’ll have the Attorney General, by mandate, install a monitor for the non-compliant jurisdictions. And of the 497, there were about 40 that are still outstanding. And they’re on notice. If they don’t have the plan in, we’re going to install a monitor, but the compliance has been unbelievable. It would not have happened, but for saying this, and I know the local governments all complained and said, well, this is hard. We don’t want to do it. And the state is forcing us to do it. Yes, the state forced you to do it. You didn’t have to do it. You could have a monitor and lose funds if you really don’t want to do it, but it had to be done. It had to be done. I’m not saying these plans are the be-all and end-all, but they are, we are at least starting-off points.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:45)
You have cities now that have mayoral elections coming up. This is the single most important issue for many cities. And I hope in those upcoming mayoral elections, the debate is, well, this is the plan the city just passed. What do you think about it? Does it go far enough? Does it go too far? But this is a major, major accomplishment. People have to feel safe. People won’t move back to New York City or to Buffalo or to Rochester or to Albany, unless they feel safe. And this is a major step forward. We legalized recreational cannabis. I tried for three years, but we got it done this year. Third time’s a charm. It’s a smart plan. I think it’s the best plan in the country. It’s also going to raise $350 million. I want to thank the majority leader of the assembly, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who worked extraordinarily hard to make this happen and went above and beyond. But thank you to all the legislators, this is a big, big progressive score for New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:03)
Mobile sports betting will pass. It’ll generate $500 million annually for youth sports education. The law allows the state to directly operate mobile sports betting so the $500 million will go to the state rather than a lot of middlemen who operate mobile sports bettings, which is what many other states have done. This is more like the state lottery where we operate it and we get the resources. The law does not authorize any new casinos. I am opposed to any casino authorization plan that is subject to politics. We have a gaming commission that makes the decision on the merits. There’s a lot of money involved in casinos. There’s a lot of lobbyists. There’s a lot of political contributions, and I want to make sure that any decision that is made, is made purely on the merits and I’ll have nothing to do with a casino plan that can be politicized.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:23)
On education, we’ve made record investments, funding the lower funded schools to bring them up to offer the best education that we can. Remember in this state, you have some schools that fund $33,000 per student, and we have some that fund $13,000 per student. I have said all along, if a school is funding $33,000, I would not give them a penny of state money. I would take those at the bottom and raise them up. We’re not quite there, but this goes a long way towards fiscal equity. Also higher education, also full-day pre-K, also $247 million for opportunity programs. Also $88 million to increase TAP for 185,000 new college students. Increasing accessible and affordable broadband for families that are lower income, $15 a month internet plan, period. Everyone has to have access, not only access, but access to affordable broadband. We basically have access, the question then became the affordability. You can get it, you just can’t pay for it. We are now mandating that these internet companies provide $15 a month internet plans to low-income customers, mandating. And to these internet companies I say, again, you don’t operate in the state of New York by an act of God. You operate in the state of New York by the will of the people. If you do not do this, you will lose your franchise in the state of New York and that’s a promise. We also will have a fund that helps lower income students connect with free internet access. We learned a terrible lesson with remote learning. Yeah, remote learning works, if the student has the right devices, if the student has internet access, if the student’s family can afford internet service. So this is a major reform for social equity.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:06)
Major funding and job training through SUNY, through SUNY’s Offshore Wind Training Institute, priority access for nurses and SUNY and CUNY programs and Pathways Pledge to create a more inclusive workforce. We address systemic injustices, hate crimes. Our Liberty Defense Fund Raise the Age implementation. It also strengthens hiring standards for police officers by enforcing restrictions on hiring de-certified officers. What this does is it stops the revolving door. A police officer gets into trouble for bad conduct in one police department leaves that police department and goes to work in another police department in another part of the state. As you saw, 497 police departments. If a police officer violated their oath in one department, we don’t want to hire them in a different department. And this is going to stop that revolving door for bad police officers.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:20)
More funding to make voting better, easier, and increase early voting. I had proposed the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, something I’m very excited about, a $3 billion, the largest bond act ever for restoring the environment. Due to the problems in the economy, I asked to postpone it. We’re now going to put it back on the ballot for next year. This year is also an economically difficult year, so we’ll put it on the ballot for next year. We’re also going to learn from what happened in nursing homes. We have nursing home reform legislation to make sure that facilities are prioritizing patient care over profits. There are two types of nursing homes, not-for-profit and for-profit. For-profit nursing homes pose attention, I analogize them to for-profit prisons.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:22)
How do you make profit in a nursing home? You reduce your cost. How do you reduce your costs? You reduce the services to patients, reduce the food budget, reduce the staffing budget. Don’t invest in as much in the facility. That is a destructive tension. So what we’re saying to the for-profit nursing homes, we want the money that gets paid to you, either from the state or from the family, we want that money going to patient care and patient services. So we’re capping the profit that they can make it a for-profit nursing home at 5%. Everything else has to go into the nursing home and the care of the patient. And we’re going to have the largest infrastructure. Bad word. Infrastructure is building, is building a transportation network, is building an economic platform, $311 billion.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:22)
In many of our upstate cities, we made the mistake, same mistake in the fifties, we cut the city off from the waterfront because the waterfront was manufacturing. It was the back door of the city. The waterfront is now the front door of the city. We have to reconnect. In Buffalo, we’re going to do it with a Skyway bridge project. In Rochester, more than half of the Rock the Riverway projects will be finished in 2021. In Albany, the Skyway Ramp is going to be turned into a linear park. Department of Transportation is doing the project.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:02)
… the park. The Department of Transportation is doing the project, they’re going to design it, they’re going to construct it, they have new plans that we will reveal next week and we have an ambitious goal, but we always have an ambitious goal.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:17)
Kelly Cummings promises me that it will be done this year. She didn’t actually promise me, but I just wanted to increase the pressure on her a little bit. In Syracuse, we’re moving forward with the I-81 viaduct project, in Dunkirk Athenex will invest 1.5 billion in a pharmaceutical production facility and that’s very exciting and that’s a whole new industry.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:47)
In Binghamton University we funded the Health Sciences Campus, it’s going to be finished this year. $13 million will go to the Roswell Park Cancer Center growing one of the premier research and treatment institutes. This is going to fund the program that is basically going to do two things, it’s going to be a worker training and recruitment program, and also assisting us on our vaccination program and on our citizen empowerment program, teaching citizens about pandemic and pandemic management.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:29)
Construction is funded to continue on the Mohawk Valley Health System, 377-bed hospital in Utica, we’re continuing the new Skydome testing facility at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, which we believe very strongly is an industry of tomorrow and we’re investing in it today. The new Whiteface Mid-Station Lodge is opened, we’re adding additional features for next ski season. This is very important to us, not just for the North Country, but tourism overall, same thing, $72 million investment in Mt. Van Hoevenberg to the Olympic Sports Complex, that’s going to be complete, that’s a major tourism attraction.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:19)
Monroe County, the I-390/490 interchange long overdue, it’s going to be done this year. LEGOLAND in Goshen is going to be a major tourism attraction, it is very cool, that’s going to be completed this year. The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge had to be re-decked, we moved the schedule up nine months to minimize the traffic delay on that bridge and we are going to rebuild all 27 Thruway service areas. It’s time, they were redone at one period, but it’s time to redo them again. This helps motorists, New Yorkers, but it’s also a very big deal for tourism. These service areas can be more than service areas, they can be tourism destination sites, and that’s what we want to do. We don’t want to just have them as a gasoline fast food. How do we maximize that potential as a full service and tourism center? In the South Bronx, an issue they’ve been talking about literally for 30 years is reducing the asthma rate and the health problems in the Bronx from all the truck traffic going to Hunts Point. We’re going to have the direct truck access to Hunts Point and get that traffic off the local streets that has caused so much damage. I’m from Queens, the Kew Gardens interchange has been a nightmare for decades, I remember the traffic, I remember my father saying, “Why don’t they do something about this?” Well, they is us and we’re going to have it completed in 2022.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:17)
New Belmont Arena on Long Island will be opened, it is going to be exciting. It is going to be beautiful, it’s going to be a home for the Islanders. The new Third Track funded, completed this year, that’s going to revolutionize the commute from Long Island, and it’s going to be very necessary. Commuting in this new remote work world can’t be running the gauntlet. Commuting has to be pleasurable, fast and predictable and getting on the train from Long Island and coming into a nice station and having a pleasant experience is essential.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:59)
JFK, $13 billion transformation. LaGuardia will be finished next year, this state will have the best airports in the nation, in my opinion, and the newest and if you want to do tourism, and if you want to welcome visitors, and if you want to welcome business people, the airport is your front door, and that experience starts their impression of your city and of your state and with our airports, they’ll have a great one. We’re also moving forward with a LaGuardia AirTrain, which will cut down travel time, more investment in the MTA, $51 billion capital program.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:44)
We are working with the federal government on the Second Avenue Subway. The Trump administration got us right up to the point of yes and then I think, frankly, they just didn’t want to say yes, but we’ve done everything to get it approved. We completed the first phase up to 96th street, revolutionized the East side of Manhattan with the Second Avenue Subway and opened up that whole market. We’re now ready to go to 125th Street in Harlem, which will be a opening up of development of a piece of Manhattan that has been sorely left behind for many, many decades, so we’re ready to go with that and we have funding for that.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:34)
The Midtown West Development will be the largest development in Manhattan in decades. You have to remember, even in Manhattan, people think about it as a private sector driven development pattern. It is true for the most part, but the State of New York, Battery Park City, that was the State of New York, Roosevelt Island, that was the state of New York and in this economy, we want a jump-start for Manhattan and we want a jump-start for Manhattan that helps the entire downstate region and that is the state of the art largest investment in mass transit. People can’t drive into Manhattan, that’s not going to be our future, it is going to be mass transit and we build a new Empire Station Complex with more rail lines, more residential and commercial development. It connects to a new job at center. It connects to a new Pier 76, it is an entire comprehensive West Side redevelopment that we think will make a major difference in New York City, which sorely needs it.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:55)
$16 billion for a new Penn Station, eight new rail lines, the Port Authority bus terminal, which has been a major negative for New York City, basically all of my life and Rick Cotton has the vision and the capacity, the executive director of the Port Authority to get this done. The Javits Center, which at one time, when it opened in the mid ’80s was the state of the art. Other convention centers have gotten bigger and Javits has been less competitive, 50% expansion on Javits, which abuts our West Side redevelopment, it will become an international venue. I was there yesterday, it’s happening, it’ll be done on time.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:50)
Extending the High Line to this new area, which is a great tourism and resident treat and after 23 years, New York City has fine vacated Pier 76. This has been a longtime example of just government incompetence. Pier 76, a beautiful pier juts out into the Hudson River and was used as a tow pound. It has to be redeveloped, it’s part of Hudson River Park and magnificent, some of the most valuable and beautiful real estate in this country. It is now, I saw it yesterday, being taken down, the tow pound is moved and it will be an outdoor open area and then long-term, the Hudson River Park will have to redesign a full development plan, but we want it open for this summer so people have a place to go, space, social distancing, and Kelly promises that that will be done by June one also. She makes a lot of promises.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:02)
Last point is, look, this is a moment in time that we are in and it’s a moment of international reset. I say it people, I say to my kids, I said it again last night, in life, things will happen and unfortunate things will happen and bad things will happen. It doesn’t even have to be a function of anything you do. Life will knock you on your rear end. You will lose a job, you’ll get disappointed in a personal relationship, you’ll have a health crisis, your spouse will have a health crisis, God forbid your child has a health crisis. Something will happen, something will happen. It’s the law of probability and you’ll get knocked on your rear end.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:59)
When you’re getting knocked on your rear end and you get knocked on the canvas, you see the world from a different perspective. You’re flat on your back, you’re looking up and you see the sky and you see the world differently and the question in life, what separates winners from losers, successful people from unsuccessful people, what do you do when you get knocked flat on your back? That is the moment that decides who you are here and here. COVID knocked the world on its back, the world, not just New York, not just the United States, the world. Europe is dealing with it, everyone is dealing with it, it is an international reset. Yes, COVID posed major challenges, and yes, you’re not going back to the way it was, there is no going back. The question is who deals with this new reality and stands up and confronts it with energy and imagination and creativity. Yes, we have COVID and yes, we still have to deal with COVID and yes, COVID is just an eye-opener on our need for public health and we should have learned from Ebola and from Dengue and from the past 20 years of pandemics, but we didn’t and now we have COVID and there’ll be another one after COVID and that is the new reality that you have to deal with.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:56)
Working remotely is not going away, people have done it for a year, some people like it, some people want to find a hybrid, but that’s not going away. We’ll go back to the way it was, get in the car, drive to work, pay for parking, come home, spend another hour in the car, some people are going to say, “No, I’m going to work remotely.” It is going to change the way people live and work, that is going to happen, deal with it and recognize it. We have social unrest that we haven’t had since the ’60s, this police-community tension is real, it is palpable. The racial tensions we have, the religious tensions we have, the antisemitism we’ve been seeing, the anti-Asian behavior that we’re seeing today in this country, the melting pot, E Pluribus Unum, it is real, and it has to be dealt with.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:09)
Increased crime, you look at our cities, the crime rate is going up and it’s frightening and people are scared, they are frightened. You have crime and random crime and death and shootings in a way you haven’t had in decades. Homelessness is out of control and it gives a sense of not only sadness that we have our fellow human beings living on the street, but it increases the sense of chaos and out of control and we’re incompetent as a government. There’s an overall sense of urban insecurity, the density that makes an urban area I now find threatening and people fled from the urban areas and they went out to their summer homes. They went out to other parts of the country. Why? Because the density that I once loved, that energy, that concentration now makes me feel insecure.
Andrew Cuomo: (57:23)
This is not going away, so the question is what country deals with it first and best? What region deals with it first and best? What state deals with it first and best? What city deals with it first and best? You answer that question and I’ll tell you the place that emerges for a new and better and brighter future. I’ll tell you who gets up off the mat stronger and better and smarter for the experience. That’s why this is a New York moment, that is our opportunity, that’s who we are, we are people who get up off the mat. We are born from people who get up off the mat, we’re born from people who left countries where they had no opportunity, where they had no growth and they took a tremendous risk coming to this place. Some by their own will, some in chains, but that is who we are, we are survivors, we are entrepreneurs and we will get up and we will re-envision, reimagine and rebuild and this action plan invests in us to do just that.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:06)
We are going to be better than we’ve ever been before. It’s in here, we’ve done it before, we went through the Great Depression and we got the better and stronger for it, we came back after World War II, we had the ’60s and the ’70s and the Urban Decline and the Fiscal Crisis and the fear, the pandemonium of urban areas. We went through 9/11, which was devastating, devastating, 2,900 Americans lost, we just lost 40,000 New Yorkers to COVID, but we came back after 9/11. We came back after Superstorm Sandy, and we’re going to come back after this.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:06)
I want to thank the legislature for getting this budget done in what was a surreal situation. Speaker Carl Heastie who has a very large conference that he had to manage, they’re not in the Capitol, 570 Zoom calls to talk to his conference. Speaker Carl Heastie did all of this while he had COVID. You want to talk about an extraordinary effort, with COVID at a time when the legislature is all remote, so congratulations to the Speaker on a really heroic effort. LouAnn Cicone and Blake Washington, who handled this with the Speaker, I’ve worked with them for many years, so has my team, they are pros and they proved it once again.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:08)
Thank you to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Shontell Smith, who is just a superstar and she shined once again, David Friedfel, who is the new finance person for the Senate and this was his first experience, I’m sure he learned a lot, but he was very helpful and I want to thank my team, Melissa DeRosa, secretary, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Dana Carotenuto, and Kelly Cummings. It’s a timely budget and under extraordinary circumstances and it’s the most important budget, the most important plan that we’ve done.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:53)
Congratulations to New Yorkers, we made it through the COVID winter. I just celebrated Easter, Catholics celebrated Easter, spring is here, it’s renewal, let’s seize the COVID spring. It’s up to us to seize the COVID spring and we will, because we’re New York tough, but we’re also smart, we’re also united, we’re also disciplined, we’re also loving, that’s who we are and that’s why we will overcome. Questions?
Thank you, governor, if you would like to ask a question, please use the raise hand function at the bottom of your window. We’ll take a brief moment to compile the Q&A roster. Governor, your first question comes from Andrew Donovan of WSYR. Andrew, your line is now open, please unmute your microphone.
Andrew Donovan: (01:02:56)
Governor, good morning, can you hear me?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:58)
Yes, sir, Mr. Donovan.
Andrew Donovan: (01:03:01)
Two topics that [inaudible 01:03:02].
Two topics [inaudible 01:03:02] Syracuse. One, I know some local school districts are getting some back pay related to foundation aid. So if you could address that, that would be great.
The other topic is the Oneida Indian Nation. [inaudible 01:03:18] Nation, the local government leaders are concerned with the mobile [inaudible 01:03:24] language, which [inaudible 01:03:26] gives point to applicants that partnered with Oneida Nations or other Indian nations. But it still seems to jeopardize the inclusion zone, the Oneida [inaudible 01:03:37] county. Can you address that for us?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:39)
Yeah. Andrew, you broke up a little bit, but I think we got the gist of the message on the CFE and the Oneida Indians. Rob, Beth, who?
Beth Garvey: (01:03:50)
I can speak on the exclusivity question. For the wagers that we are authorizing here, we are going to require that servers will be located in the upstate licensed casinos. We are requiring each casino to accept servers from any of the selected awardees. And so should an Indian nation make a bid that was selected, they would have the opportunity to have their server placed at any of the casinos. Additionally, the wagers that are placed are going to be deemed placed at the location where the server is. And so the exclusivity is not going to be implicated in any way. And we think that addresses the issue there.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:38)
Rob, do you want to do the CFE point?
Yeah. The two things on the back-pay was mentioned as well. So the back-pay was held through the year while we were trying to preserve spending. The additional revenues came in, federal money cames in and we’re paying all of the back-pay. In regards to the foundation aid, CFE did not apply to Syracuse, but the foundation aid and the basis for those estimates are going to be fully funded over the next three years. So in addition to the school districts getting a total of $10 billion in New York State, the state is also going to supplement that by fully funding the foundation aid, which would be significant increases to all of the districts across the state, but particularly the cities that have the highest number of students with high needs.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:38)
Robert is the budget maven. Not only is he brilliant with numbers, but he’s also brilliant with policy. How many budgets have you worked on now?
This is the 25.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:50)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:53)
And 27 years old. So just imagine that. Next question, operator.
Governor, your next question comes from [Terase Lope Cruiser 01:06:04], from Downtown Post NYC. Terase, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Terase Lope Cruiser: (01:06:12)
Hello there. I hope you can hear me. I think you can. I have two questions [inaudible 01:06:22]. Can you hear [inaudible 01:06:27] echo?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:27)
Yeah, you’re breaking up, but if you speak slowly, maybe it will be better.
Terase Lope Cruiser: (01:06:33)
I’ll give it a shot. Governor, how will you progress [inaudible 01:06:40] numerous construction projects [inaudible 01:06:43] my question number one. Number two, there was one thing that I noticed you didn’t mention, you have said for a long time, we need a proper tunnel other than Hudson River connecting New Jersey and this you’ve been talking about, it’s not in your budget. Tell me about that.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:10)
I missed the first part of the question. Did anyone get the first part of the question? On the second part of the question, this was a very long presentation. I’m sure I’ll hear comments later about how long the presentation was. But I still can’t mention everything that we are doing. The gateway tunnels are essential. When I talk about the Empire State Station on the west side of Manhattan, we’re adding train lines in the Empire Station. What Empire Station is doing is it’s taking the old Penn Station, there’s then a new Moynihan Station across the street from it, which uses the same set of tracks. But the Moynihan train Station is just magnificent and a much nicer way to access the existing tracks. But then the Empire Station development has us acquiring the block to the south called the 780 block that will allow us to put in more rail lines.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:29)
So you’ll increase the capacity of the number of trains coming into the Empire Station, as well as the comfort level of the facility itself. That is anticipating the gateway tunnels from across the Hudson, from New Jersey, bringing Amtrak from the south and from the west. We have agreed previously, starting with Obama administration, actually that New York and New Jersey would fund half the tunnels and the federal government would fund half the tunnels. And that remains in place. There’s been a back and forth basically on the federal side, on them coming up and providing the funding. We are very hopeful now that is one of the main transit rail priorities for the entire northeast, that the Biden administration will fund it. They have a very large infrastructure funding program. But that is one of the projects that’s not in our control. We committed to fund 50%, but we need the federal government to fund it.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:09:47)
I’ve already spoken to the president about it. The president was very favorable about the gateway tunnels, but until I see a check signed by the federal government, I take everything with a grain of salt and that’s a little poetic irony with a grain of salt because they also promised that they would repeal SALT, which I believe they will. Because I believe they have to and again, our tax numbers are done expecting SALT. So when they say, “Oh, you raised taxes.” No. After SALT, the taxes will be lower than before, but they have to repeal SALT, which is what they said they would do. Next question operator.
Governor, your next question comes from James Madore from Newsday. James, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
James Madore: (01:11:03)
Good morning, governor.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:04)
James Madore: (01:11:05)
Questions. Could you talk a little bit about the small business recovery grant program? And second, has there been any change to the taxable status for unemployment benefits?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:30)
The taxable status for the unemployment benefits, are you talking about the excluded workers? Do you want to take that Rob?
So with regards to that, there has been no change to the taxable status of the unemployment benefits. Those benefits have been subject to state tax for decades, so that has not changed. And as for the small business package, it is a total of about a billion dollars, about 800 million of that would be grants. That’s designed to supplement the federal grants that are available for small businesses. Just within the last month, the federal government authorized upwards of $5 billion for business relief in New York State. 3 billion of that for small businesses and restaurants alone, in addition to extending the PPP program. So this program is designed to supplement that for businesses that are not eligible, businesses that are not getting some of the federal dollars, or also to make sure that those dollars are not sufficient.
The main goal of the program is to get people back to work. So it’s to make sure that we can get those businesses going so that they can reemploy and bring the unemployment rate down and also deal with missing payments, rent payments that they have not been able to make. ESD will be coming up with the guidelines for the program. And again, it’s very flexible. So again, it’s going to be applications will go out quickly and then it will be designed around the federal program to make sure that any unmet needs are met.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:22)
Good answer. Good answer. Next question, operator.
Governor, your next question comes from Peter Haskell at WCBS 880 Peter, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Peter Kaskell: (01:13:40)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:41)
Hey Peter. Remember me tall good-looking blonde hair, blue eyes, button nose?
Peter Kaskell: (01:13:48)
Long time, no see.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:49)
Peter Kaskell: (01:13:51)
Was it appropriate for your family and friends to be tested for COVID when others could not? Were you involved in this, were aware of it?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:14:05)
Peter, the assembly is looking at testing issue and I don’t want to get ahead of them, but I was not involved in the testing program to that intimate level. People who I would meet with, and I would be in exposure with, I was aware that they were being tested. So if you came to see me in my office, you would be tested and that applied with my family also, but the assembly’s doing a review on that and I would let them do it. Let’s take one more, operator.
Governor, your next question comes from Shannon Young from Politico. Shannon, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Shannon Young: (01:14:58)
Hi, governor just wanted to note that the scene today looks a lot different than we’ve seen in budget years past typically the legislative leaders [inaudible 01:15:05] for this. Is a reason why they’re not there via Zoom today? And a second question, do you feel that all the scandals surrounding you right now, have hurt your ability to negotiate a budget in terms of being able to get the things that you typically want?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:20)
The reason we’re not doing a joint presentation like we have done in the past is because of COVID. As I said, the speaker had COVID, I don’t know where he is now on testing, but God bless him that with COVID he went through this entire process and he did not skip a beat. But obviously there have not been in person meetings, but that is all because of COVID. I think if you look at this budget, I laid out the priorities that were important to me a couple of weeks ago, and all those priorities have been met. The legislature had laid out priorities also as they do every other year. And that’s always a question of compromise. And we did that again here, and I don’t think that we have done a better budget than the budget you see before you today. I think it’s been extraordinary.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:16:28)
And my working relationship with the leaders through this again, which was one of the most challenging, not one of it was the most challenging budget because of what it needed to accomplish. We have never done a budget where we are trying to pivot from an economic crisis of epic proportion and a budget where we’re trying to retool and recreate the entire economy for a new world. And a budget where we have to undertake those ambitious goals in the middle of COVID. When you can’t even get in a room with a group of people. I don’t think there’s been a more difficult substantive work in a more difficult, practical environment that I’ve ever been part of. And the result I think is very exciting. Remember what we’re trying to do, manage COVID, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, public educate, learn from COVID, make the changes.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:54)
Public health changes, citizen empowerment, do COVID relief for a traumatized economy and rebuild a new economy in anticipation of the lasting effect of the COVID transition. Remote work, increased crime, urban insecurity. How do you redesign your economy within that regard? That’s what this plan does and do it without getting into a room with anyone, because everyone’s concerned about COVID. Speaker actually had COVID. You put that all together, it’s a heck of a challenge.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:46)
So I think it was a great, great product under an extraordinarily difficult circumstance. And I applaud all of those who’ve been involved and it’s a metaphor to me for resilience and recovery. And it’s a metaphor to me and an analogy for what the people of this state did over this past year. Hardest hit state by COVID on the globe. And New Yorkers went from the highest infection rate to the lowest infection rate. That’s a fact, that’s a fact for the cynics and the skeptics and the conspiracy theory people. That is a fact and that New York resilience and strength is what’s going to see them rebuild New York better than ever before. Don’t bet against New Yorkers, you will lose. Thank you.