Governor Cuomo delivered day one of his 2021 State of the State address on Monday, which provided an overview of his 2021 priorities. Over the past three days, the Governor presented more detail on the some of the ideas that he outlined on Monday.
The Governor started by focusing on his goal to strike a new model of balance using science and technology to reopen the closed economy smartly and safely. The Governor talked about using rapid testing in restaurants, theaters, and other venues to get these businesses back open. The state will work with real estate interests to open rapid testing pop-up sites.
The Governor also talked about the need to reopen the arts, which are vital to urban areas. To focus on this, he proposed the New York Arts Revival. This will be a public/private partnership that will kick off on February 4 and feature pop-up, outdoor, artistic performances across the state that follow all state guidelines for gatherings. As these events are being planned and rolled out, the Governor stated that the state will be looking at testing indoor events that focus on rapid testing and ventilation in the indoor spaces.
The Governor next noted that there has been a shift to remote businesses and remote learning and that it is unlikely to go away. As a result, there must be high-speed internet for all. He stated that New York must be the first state to develop the infrastructure of the future. While New York has made progress on broadband access, with 98% of New Yorkers now having access, the next challenge is affordability. The Governor stated that access without affordability is meaningless. He noted that the average high-speed internet plan costs $50/month and that nationwide 1 in 5 families cannot afford this. He said this means that some families are being left behind, and those families are predominately poor, black, or Latino. The Governor announced his proposal that includes a mandate that ISPs offer high speed internet to low income households for $15/month. For families that cannot afford the $15/month, there will be a fund created to cover their costs.
Next, the Governor described the over-availability of hotel and commercial space throughout the state, especially in New York City. The Governor proposed converting unneeded commercial space to affordable and supportive housing. The state will allow flexibility to the rules and regulations to stimulate conversion of properties.
Finally, the Governor talked about the creation of the Commission on the Future of the New York Economy. This Commission will draw a roadmap to allow New Yorkers to get back to work in emerging sectors of the economy. The goal is to help rebuild an economy that grows to accommodate more New Yorkers. As part of this initiative, the Governor has recruited a group of key leaders. He also talked about the jobs of the future program, which will enroll employers to develop new programs and partnerships to recruit and hire low income workers.
In this presentation, the Governor focused exclusively on green and renewable energy. He announced a goal of a green energy system that can sustain itself. This program will have four main components: build large scale renewable projects to support all of the state's energy needs; stop importing green technology from other countries and create our own technology; build a transmission capacity to meet all the needs around the state; and train and educate a green energy workforce. The Governor announced a $26 billion public/private partnership to build 100 new green energy projects around the state. These projects will include solar and wind projects. The Governor stated that this will give New York the largest wind program in the country.
The Governor will also be hosting a competition for three energy transmission projects that will address the need of getting power from where it is produced to where it is needed. To meet all the increased labor needs, SUNY Farmingdale will be unveiling programs to train at least 2,500 workers in wind, solar, and green energy projects. Finally, the Governor announced that all of these green energy projects will meet the state's minority and women-owned business goals and will require prevailing wage and project labor agreements.
The final part of the Governor's State of the State presentation focused on infrastructure development in New York. He started by noting that New York needs justice and fairness from Washington when it comes to financial support. He argued that New York subsidizes 42 other states with the amount of tax revenue that its citizens generate. Accordingly, he demanded relief from the federal government in the form of direct aid and a change to the state and local tax deduction that was eliminated by the federal government.
The Governor then talked about achieving a "new New York," which will feature broad-based economic stimulus to support infrastructure development. He pointed to the success of the recently renovated Moynihan Station in Midtown Manhattan. Building on that, the Governor announced a plan for the Manhattan Midtown West Development project, which will be a transit-oriented development project with residential, commercial, and public works. There will also be a focus on several other projects in New York City, including expanding the Javits Convention Center, redeveloping Pier 76, extending the High Line, overhauling the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and rebuilding Penn Station.
The infrastructure development will not be limited to New York City and will include state of the art infrastructure projects in all regions of the state, some of which are already underway. The Governor also talked about efforts to revitalize airports across New York and modernize mass transit systems with the purchase of new buses and trains.
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