Governor Cuomo: "One of the big issues is climate change. I don't care if you're a Democrat, you're a Republican, you live on Long Island - you know it's a problem. You remember Superstorm Sandy, you see the pollution in the bays, you know the water quality is a problem, you know the cost of electricity is a problem. So what do we do? And everyone has ideas and we have very little progress. Yesterday was a day of tremendous progress. Offshore are no longer a science fiction idea. Their time has come. ... We are the leading state in the United States of America in actually doing it, not talking about it but actually doing it."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on Long Island News Radio with Jay Oliver.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Jay Oliver: I introduce to you, first time in a long time, we had him a while ago, good to have him back, his name is Andrew Cuomo, and he happens to be the Governor of the State of New York, the great state, the Empire State, and we welcome him. Governor Cuomo, how are you, sir? Welcome aboard LI News Radio.
Governor Cuomo: I'm doing great Jay. Good to be with you.
Jay Oliver: That's great. You know last time, you and I have something in common. I'll start out with that. Last time I saw you, I was eating with my family at the great Rumba's, Canoe Road, Hampton Bays, and there is the Governor, unbeknownst to me, a couple of feet away with his lovely family as well partaking. I know it's a favorite place and one of my favorites as well, Governor. You know? Rumba's, Hampton Bays.
Governor Cuomo: It's a great spot in Hampton Bays and I love it. It's, I've been going to that area of Long Island for years. I love the Shinnecock Bay. My family is out there and my kids, my kids spend a lot of time out there and it's just a magical, magical spot. And it's easy and it's fun and the people are easy so I love it.
Jay Oliver: It, listen, it's a favorite of mine as well and it's, listen, you like the whole Caribbean cuisine and everything. It's a wonderful place. Okay, enough with the plugs for Rumba's. Let's get into some big happenings because it was a bid day yesterday for you Governor, your announcement, the State contracting what, for nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind power, have to be connected by way to the Island, projects to be in service, I hear it's what, the year 2024. You talked about this for a long time and good to see this thing coming to fruition.
Governor Cuomo: It was a big day for us Jay. You know, we talk, we talk, we talk, we're in this moment of political hysteria. Right? All these major problems, emotion is high, the political environment on the Left, on the Right, the Democrats, Republicans. It's hysteria all across the board and we're New York. New Yorkers put one foot in front of the other so I'm focused on what do we actually do, right? All this rhetoric, all this hyperbole, what do we do? One of the big issues is climate change. I don't care if you're a Democrat, you're a Republican, you live on Long Island, you know it's a problem. You remember Superstorm Sandy, you see the pollution in the bays, you know the water quality is a problem, you know the cost of electricity is a problem.
So what do we do? And everyone has ideas and we have very little progress. Yesterday was a day of tremendous progress. Offshore are no longer a science fiction idea. Their time has come. The cost has dropped dramatically and we are the leading state in the United States of America in actually doing it, not talking about it but actually doing it. Seventeen hundred megawatts - what does that mean? That means the largest offshore wind farms in the United States. One is 30 miles off Montauk Point. You won't be able to see it from the land. Don't worry. And it will generate 1,700 megawatts, about 800 megawatts for Long Island. What does that mean, a megawatt? Eight hundred megawatts will serve about 500,000 households. There are about 1 million households on Long Island so about half the households could be served by this one project which is amazing when you think about it.
And it's not a proposal Jay, it's not a plan. We're doing it. We let the contract, Vice President Al Gore came, who you know has dedicated his life to this, and he said New York is leading the nation in actually making this happen. So it was a great day for all of us, and we're doing it, and it's cost-effective. It won't disturb anyone. The turbines are out in the ocean. By the way, they're good for fishing because they actually attract fish species. It's like we do in the artificial reefs off Long Island for the same reason - bring back the fishing. But it's going to make at tremendous difference to climate change and the cost of power and we're leading the way, and that's the way it's supposed to be. That's why they call us the Empire State. They don't call us the Empire State for nothing Jay.
Jay Oliver: Listen, Governor, I like the fact, also I was reading, what, about 1,600 or so people will head to work on this whole deal, a lot of economic activity, passing, surpassing the $3 billion mark is why I like those aspects in this whole situation as well.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, look, the green energy, everybody talks about green energy, the energy revolution, we have to go green. Yeah, that's nice. Everybody agrees. The question is how, how do you transition an economy from fossil fuels, coal, gas, etcetera, to a green economy? You know the political debate these days leaves out the details like how do we do it? Do we all use candles? How do I heat my house? So that's the real challenge.
The real challenge is how do you get from here to there. Everybody agrees we have to get to a cleaner environment - how? This says not just wind turbines, but let's be the first state to transition to the new economy because, Jay, there is money to be made there. The first economy that makes the transition, they are going to be a leader in this new industry and the new industry has to come because the current industry is unsustainable. We can't keep doing this. So, transition to the green economy. All right, and let's get there first. So what we said is, we think New York can have an economic base as the leader in this new economy. We're going to be training on how to do wind turbine, how to build them, how to site them. Our state university system Stony Brook and Farmingdale are going to have the first, most advanced wind technology training program in the country. We're going to be building port facilities in Port Jefferson because these are massive projects these wind turbines by the way and we're going to build port facilities on Long Island that can serve the whole Northeast. So some of the companies we're bringing over are European companies. They're way ahead of the United States on wind power and part of this agreement is they build the turbines but we want the work brought here and we'll train the workers here and we'll build the port facilities here, so like in Port Jefferson we're going to have a major hub for these companies that can serve Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etcetera, and that's 1,600 jobs, so you're growing the economy, you're leading the way in this new green space which will develop the more times goes on and hopefully we're at the head of that parade and you're generating green energy and addressing climate change so it checks all the boxes. And it takes all the political rhetoric which is now so hot and so hysterical where you have politicians running around like their hairs on fire. And it actually communicates and translates to productive, realistic action that everybody can agree on.
Jay Oliver: There's no doubt. Listen you're right. We're talking to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The divisive nature that we see on all fronts, it's obvious somethings are needed. An agreement has to be made in place on some of these key issues. And that's why I'll tell you, the Green New Deal, the signing of the Climate Leadership and the Community Protection Act passed by - I think it was the state legislature in June, Governor, correct?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah. You see what happens now, Jay, and I've never seen it like this. The emotion and the fear and the anxiety is so high among people that it's all hyperbolic. The far right is at an extreme temperature level. The far left is at an extreme temperature level. And there's very little intelligent dialogue, there's very little compromise, and I get it people have real problems - you're on Long Island.
Your property taxes are suffocating you, I mean it's crazy property taxes. And we've put in the first property tax cap ever, limiting them to 2%. You're afraid of your job, automated technology is coming, the commute is hellacious, the traffic is hellacious. Alright, I get it, I get the anxiety. But, what do we do about it? And that's leadership. What do you do about it and what real progress can we make. And yesterday was all about progress. I don't care if you're a conservative, if you're a liberal, a progressive, I don't care, I don't care what you are. This was smart and the state is leading and we're doing, and that's what it's all about at the end of the day.
Do you know what these days remind me of? You mentioned Shinnecock Bay, Rumba's. The Shinnecock Canal connects the Taconic Bay to Shinnecock Bay, right. Where we are in that restaurant is right at the beginning of Shinnecock Bay and the Shinnecock Bay empties out into ocean. The Shinnecock Canal is fascinating place. You drive over it if you're going out East. It's where the Taconic empties into the Shinnecock Bay and the whole bay, there's a lock there and when they open the locks the water comes through at a tremendous velocity to a very narrow opening. And to navigate a boat through those waters is very challenging. Cause there's also the cross currents. Some big waves push you to the left, some big waves push you to the right, and you watch these boaters go through the Shinnecock Canal and they panic and they start to get pushed to left and then they turn the wheel all the way to the right but then they overcompensate and now the boat's going to the right, now the boat's going back to the left and it almost looks like bumper boats because it's such a small area.
That's the political process right now. All these cross currents and politicians overreacting to the left, overreacting to the right, trying to make everybody happy and the current force de jour. Hold a steady course. That's the only way to get through the Shinnecock Canal. Hold a steady course. Don't overreact. And that's always been the New York way and that's what I'm trying to do. I get the cross currents politically. Do the right thing, hold the steady course. Move forward and that's what we did yesterday. I don't care if you believe in the green revolution or whatever it is. If you have power, we need to address climate change. We need to bring low cost power. We have to do something about the environment. Long Island is especially vulnerable. I lived through Superstorm Sandy. It was frightening. And it can happen again. We have to do something about water quality and we are the leading state in moving forward and that's what we should be proud of.
Jay Oliver: Great correlation on the currents, no question, as far as parties and what we see all around. We're talking to the Governor, he is with us, Andrew Cuomo. You know Governor, you bring up property taxes and I couldn't help but think of the ongoing battle, the IRS, the plan to get around the whole SALT deduction, the 10,000 cap, and everything else, you know. We have seen Tish James out there, a lot of people out there right now. There's Senator Chuck Schumer who's out here a couple of days ago making a push, a negative known, I mean. How confident are you, let's put it that way, that we know you've battled before. The IRS kinda said some things. How do we get around it this go around? You feel confident? The latest of situations could prevail, especially the Island, you know the deal as far as these taxes are concerned. It is quite cumbersome, you know that.
Governor Cuomo: What they did. And this is so people know what they did, Jay. Property taxes are the killer tax in the State of New York. Going back to FDR time. It has nothing to do with the state. I may be a little defensive for a second because it's early and I'm a little defensive. FDR used to rail about the property tax. Because people think that the state has something to do with the property tax and they used to complain about high taxes and FDR got very defensive and he said, 'I've got nothing to do with the property taxes, it's all local taxes and school taxes,' which is true.
So I don't control the property tax. What I did do for the first time ever is I passed a cap on what the local governments can do with increasing property taxes and we said it can't go more than 2% per year, roughly. Because it was going up 6%, 7%, or 8% every year which is madness. So I passed the 2% property tax cap, all the local officials got mad at me but we passed the 2% cap just to end or reduce the increase. What the federal government then does, it comes along and it says [inaudible 15:05] because Donald Trump did not win the State of New York. We're a democratic state, they call us. Even though we have Democrats and Republicans. They call us a democratic state. They passed a federal law that says you can no longer deduct your property tax from your federal tax. Which means in essence, you're being taxed twice on your property taxes. If you pay $20,000 in property taxes you can't deduct it from your federal income tax so now you pay federal income tax on the property tax that you paid to your local government. Which is insult to injury. That's what's called SALT. State and Local Tax deductibility. It only effects democratic states. It effects New York more than any other state. New York already contributes more to the federal government than any state in the country. We give about $20 billion more to the federal government than we get back and this makes it worse. Purely political and it was a Republican president, Republican Congress, Republican Senate, that passed this. Alright. It's an economic missile at the state of New York. We have to reverse it. I sued them, I tried other ways to get around it.
The only way we are going to get around this is it has to be repealed. And I said to Senator Schumer, I say to our congress people, Democrat or Republican, you should not vote on any bill until you repeal SALT because they have to be responsible to their constituents not their political party. This hurts every congress person's and every senator's constituents because your property taxes, Jay, went up because of SALT and your congressional representative and your federal representative should say I am not voting for any of this stuff until you repeal SALT because it was all politics and it was wrong. We have a democratic congress. They should say I am not passing any bill. I am not taking any vote until we repeal SALT. It has to be repealed.
Jay Oliver: Listen, 100 percent you know all affiliations involved no question. It affects everyone and you know, listen, people have a tough time trying to make ends meet. Governor you know that and this is key. You know, stay or go that type of thing. This is vital. No question. We are talking with the governor of New York. His name is Andrew Cuomo. By the way, I know you were very proud. I know you were joined by Billy Joel a while ago I want to bring it up. The legislation and banning offshore drilling in the waters. You know listen ,very important stuff. You talk about the environment and everything else. It plays into what you did a couple of months ago.
Governor Cuomo: Billy Joel. First of all, he is a personal friend. I can't be objective but I think he is the best. He is the best on every level. I mean his career, his whole resurgence is so beautiful to see. He is such an artist, such a talent. By the way, he is just brilliant. When you talk to him, he is just brilliant. And he is a Long Island boy through and through. He loves Long Island. He is happy. We go fishing which is always a trip to go fishing with him because you go out and his boat is so noticeable, right? It is the Downeaster Alexa. You go out fishing and all the boats wind up circling around his boat. But he is a Long Island boy and he cares so much about the environment. Not as an environmentalist but as a Long Islander because you go to Long Island, you move to Long Island, you live on Long Island, so much of it is the quality of life and the beaches and the Sound and being there. So he is a quote on quote environmentalist but he is really someone who loves Long Island. And he has always been involved in protecting the environment and plastic bags we banned. The plastic bag ban. Plastic bags, what they have done to the environment, what they do in landfills, what they do in the water, is unbelievable. The damage that just a plastic bag can do. We also just banned offshore drilling. The federal government authorized offshore drilling off the shore of Long Island, which to me is just bizarre. It is totally counter to everything we are trying to do. You are going to put an oil rig off the shore of Long Island? And then they say don't worry nothing will happen. Yeah, sure don't worry nothing will happen. Like nothing happened in the Gulf right? When the pipe broke and the nation sat there and watched the pipe spewing oil from the bottom of the ocean and no one could figure out how to plug the pipe with all of this technology.
We passed a bill banning offshore drilling. We passed a plastic bag ban, where we are doing something that is so common sense but so effective. We are restoring shellfish - clams, oysters. Oyster Bay. Off Long Island on the south shore and up in the Sound. The original water filtration system that mother nature installed is better than any we have designed. It was clams and oysters. They filter gallons of water. What happened is the water got so polluted it killed them off and we overharvested them. So we are now restoring 200 million shellfish and we have hatcheries along Long Island and we school kids involved. And we are placing them in parts of the Sound and in bays where the water isn't that polluted that they'll die, but the water needs to be cleaned up and Billy Joel has been helpful on that also. So, he is - he's not a highly political fellow - but he's a highly principled individual, and it's all about Long Island and helping Long Island. He's also very involved in causes; he's been very helpful on breast cancer, which is an issue we deal a lot with in New York and we - it's a problem on Long Island; it's a problem all across the state. He never said no. 9/11 - we do a 9/11 ride every year; he's a motorcycle guy also. He's got a great motorcycle museum, and I ride motorcycles, and we do that together - he's mostly your friend, but he's really genuinely a concerned with Long Island and what's going on.
Jay Oliver: You're listening to the Governor. Governor, I appreciate the extra time this morning. We're here live at 103.9 LI News Radio - Long Island's only news talk radio station. You know what, the MTA has been a sticking point for me in the last couple of months - we know about the overtime abuse, we've seen the numbers and I guess the latest reorganized agencies, so I know you're right on this thing, listen you're as angry as I am. You know, Governor, I'll tell you, it's almost as if no one is watching the store within - how do you tackle this thing? You have people, your whole prison that you can trust, but in essence it has to be a somehow, you know, somehow there's got to be some intervention there. What are you thinking these days regarding the MTA in reading about all these numbers?
Governor Cuomo: Jay, it is infuriating. It is infuriating. These bureaucracies grow so big and they're all about perpetuating the bureaucracy. They forgot that it's taxpayers' money. They forget that it's riders' money. And they just grow, and they grow, and they grow. The MTA is one of the worst. I used to work in the federal government, I ran an agency called Housing and Urban Development, which was the worst federal agency. And I spent eight years wrestling that beast. It was like wrestling an octopus because the agency, the bureaucracy pushes back. You try to make a change and they attack any force that would disrupt them.
And you take the MTA or the Long Island Rail Road, I fight them every day because they have to change, they have to reorganize, they have to get smaller, they have to remember that they're supposed to provide a service. They're not doing us a favor, they get paid. And that's what this reorganization is all about. My daughter says to me, one of my daughters says, "You know, you're so tough on the MTA." I said, "No, I'm not tough on the MTA. The MTA is tough on New Yorkers." That's how I see it. You know, average salary - $130,000 - 70,000 people work at the MTA. Deliver the product, make the trains run on time, clean them. Long Island Rail Road, we are in the midst of a major transformation. Not since the Long Island Rail Road has been built, we're putting in a new Second Track and a new Third Track. There are parts, Jay, of the Long Island Rail Road where there's one track. So when people say every morning, you turn on the radio, the Long Island Rail Road's delayed. Yeah, because there's one track and anything goes wrong, everything stops. We're building a Second Track, we're building a Third Track. We're redoing 59 stations. We're getting the waste out of the system and the fraud out of the system. Because it is rampant. And yes, there's pushback because the bureaucracy protects itself. I represent the riders. I represent the taxpayers. And I fight for them. I keep it very simple in my life: remember who brought you to the dance. I represent the taxpayers. I represent the riders. They need better service. It has to work. It has to work better, and it will.
Long Island Rail Road, that's the Second Track, that's the Third Track. There's a project called the East Side Access. East Side Access was allowing the Long Island Rail Road trains to go through a tunnel, to build a tunnel, so they could go into Grand Central on the East Side of Manhattan instead of the West Side of Manhattan. That project has gone on for 50 years. How can it take you 50 years?
I just built the largest infrastructure project in the United States - a new Tappan Zee Bridge - between Westchester and Rockland. It was the largest project in the nation - $5 billion. We did in four years. How can it take you 50 years to build a tunnel? I mean, it would be a bad joke if it wasn't a reality.
It's the bureaucracy. They're in no rush. If you don't get the tunnel built, you know what it means? It means you have another job for another year. That mentality is what has to be tackled. And when you wrestle with the bureaucracy, it fights back. And that's what politicians, you know, they don't like controversy, they don't want anyone angry at them. You know, for a politician, they're job is making friends. I see it differently. I see my job as getting results. And I believe that's what New Yorkers will actually respond to: did you help me? Did you make my life better? Did you lower my taxes? Is my commute faster? Is my electricity bill less? That's what I focus on more than the conventional political back and forth.
Jay Oliver: I'm with you 100 percent, crack the whip. I'm right with you here, I talk about it daily unfortunately. And let's hope we see some results here. Now a couple of things before I let you go here, you got the heat wave coming in place here within the Tri-State. You did a great job extending hours and everything else. Are you confident, Sir, are you confident regarding Con Ed and everything else that happened last weekend that we will not see a replay? It could be disastrous with all the levels and numbers and temperatures, heat indexes and everything else. At this point in time is the Governor satisfied as far as, hopefully a pretty good outcome after this weekend?
Governor Cuomo: Am I confident? No. No.
Jay Oliver: I like the honesty.
Governor Cuomo: No, I am not confident. Am I all over Con Ed? Am I doing everything I can? Yes. And do I have people monitoring Con Ed and do I have an alert system where if there's a problem I will be on it in 11 seconds? Yes. One of the things I pride myself on, Jay, is when there's a problem, I show up - you know, the old Woody Allen line. I show up. I don't delegate; I don't send somebody else. I show up. I'm disappointed in Con Ed. I've been disappointed in them a number of instances where they have not been responsive. The blackout on the Westside of Manhattan was frightening - it was frightening. Chaos could have ensued; mayhem could have ensued. And their answer to me that night after we got the power back on by 1 o'clock in the morning - I was with them and I was in their facility - and they said, "Well we don't really know exactly what happened." What do you mean, you don't know? That's the worst answer. So, we're investigating that, but we're doing everything we can, and I've told Con Ed, they don't have a franchise that was granted by God, you know? NYSEG and Con Ed - these utility companies - the people grant them a franchise, and the people pay good money to have the franchise operate well. Right? You pay your bill every month and they make sure you pay your bill every month. We demand a service commensurate with the service we pay for, and if they can't do it, we'll get somebody else who can, you know? Con Ed operates with this mentality that we're too big to fail and you can't replace us - that is wrong, that is wrong. NYSEG is new on Long Island - the power company. You can replace a utility, and Con Ed better not cocky and better not get arrogant. New Yorkers have a tolerance level, and if you surpass that tolerance level, then we will take action, and we can get another utility company. So, they are on notice, we are monitoring it; I'm on it, 24 hours a day. But am I confident that they will fully perform? No.
Jay Oliver: We will keep an eye on that. Now Governor, you say you show up and you really do - now listen, you're not in the cornfields of Iowa, no pun intended. Could use a [inaudible] right now. You show up, so keep on top of that whole situation. Hopefully, hopefully we'll be in good shape. Now, speaking of the cornfields of Iowa - 2020, sir. There was a lot back and forth, as far as is he, isn't he not, isn't he going to run for the presidency. Listen you chimed in already for 2022 as far as the Empire State as far as continuing the situation at hand here. Give me the Governor Cuomo reasoning for not going ahead. We see a lot of folks who shouldn't even be there right now, Governor, you know that, but give me the reasoning behind your decision as far as not throwing your hat in the ring on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Governor Cuomo: Because, Jay, at the end of the day it's simple, right? You look in the mirror in the morning, and you say to yourself, "What do I want to do with my life? How can I best be of help?" First answer for me is be the best father you can. I have three daughters - who, what a blessing; I didn't deserve them. They're special - they've got number one priority. Second, be the best friend you can and the best son you can, etc. And third, I believe I have a value added and I can help people of the state. I know government - I've been in the federal government, my father was governor, I learned from him, I learned from Clinton, I learned from Gore. I've worked with all sorts of the nation's best - I think I can help as governor and I think I'm making a difference, and I'm proud of that and I break my rear end trying to do that every day. And I think that's where I can help. I ran for reelection as governor, I stood on the stage, I looked in the camera. They said to me, "Do you promise that you will serve as governor if you get reelected, and you're not going to be another politician who takes the next step on the ladder and it's not going to be all about you and your ambition," and I looked back at the camera and I looked at New Yorkers in the eye, and I said if I get reelected, I will do the job as your governor. I said that. And sometimes, even politicians have to mean what they say, and if I say it I mean it, Jay. It gets very simple: I'm true to my word; I'm true to my handshake. I think I'm making a difference, I hope New Yorkers agree, and that's it. It's not that complicated in life. Make a difference, do good things, and then you'll be comfortable when you put your head on the pillow at night and that's all there is. And that's where I am.
Jay Oliver: Well there you go, well said, and I'll tell you this: Next time we're at [inaudible] together - you and I agree to have a couple of margaritas, watch a ball game or two and kind of enjoy the moment. Listen, cannot thank you enough for coming on the show today and hopefully there'll be more Governor Cuomo as we make the rounds into the stretch run in 2019 - how's that?
Governor Cuomo: I'm here, Jay, and thank you. You provide a great service; your dialogue is right on; you know the facts; you keep people informed. And that's what we need more than anything nowadays, with all this political garbage going back and forth - let's get some facts, and let's get some truth, let's bring down the rhetoric and the heat, and let's actually achieve some progress, and you cut through the baloney - to use an outdated term - and I respect that and I thank you for it.
Jay Oliver: Well, I thank you - let's talk soon. I can't thank you enough - let's hope, let's hope the lights stay on this weekend, how's that? Let's hope everything is in a good spot. I do know this - as you did say, you show up; you will show up, which is a good thing, we're proud to have you in that city if something happens, sir. Thank you again.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Jay. Have a good day.