March 30, 2018
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Highlights of the FY 2019 Budget

TOP Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript:...

This evening, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the highlights of the FY 2019 Budget. The Budget builds on the state's record of delivering for New Yorkers by making the highest ever investment in K-12 education, enacting a nation-leading women's agenda, advancing 21st century transportation solutions, protecting taxpayers against federal tax changes, strengthening the middle class, and making strategic investments in New York's future to drive growth and create opportunity for all. For the eighth consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth to 2 percent or less. More information is available here.


VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.


AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.


PHOTOS of the event will be available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.


A rush transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below.


Governor Cuomo: Good evening. I don't know why you guys look so tired, we're two days early! I'm going to give you an overview of the budget that is up now before the Houses. They've acted on some of the bills. There are a couple of bills that are up now they haven't acted on yet. We're talking about the 2019 state budget, as you know. Overall, it's $100 billion in state operating funds and all the funds budget up to $168. Education - $26 billion. Medicaid - $18 billion. Those are the two big items in the budget as you know. Remainder of the state agencies have been flat. It's now eight years of a two percent spending limit, which, the two percent is the lowest increase in budget history.


Let me just back up a step just in case we have some new faces, which I'm noticing. On my far left you have Alphonso David, star Counsel, you have Robert Mujica, star Director of the Division of the Budget, and Melissa DeRosa, star Secretary. This budget was the most difficult budget that I think we have done for a few reasons. Number one, we started with a big deficit, $4.4 billion deficit. Number two we're under attack by the federal government and they're not trying to make our lives easier, frankly, they're trying to make our lives harder. We'll talk about it in a moment, but their federal tax reform bill, that SALT Act was an arrow aimed at the economic heart of the State of New York. I also want to applaud my colleagues, Senator Flanagan in the Senate, who worked very hard to get this put together. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who had a very challenging portfolio in front of him. We had to get it done in a difficult circumstance - difficult political circumstance - and we had to get it done before the religious holidays. You have that built in clock that the budget is due April 1st, so to get it done "early" was a herculean task. And they did very well, as well as their staff, on the Assembly side Luanne and Blake and on the Senate side, David and Sean. I don't know how they physically do it. They're literally up for days and days around the clock, so I don't even know how they get the physical stamina to do it, my team included, but kudos go to all of them because this was a very difficult budget.


As I said, $4.4 billion deficit in a hostile political circumstance. The budget hit the priorities that we had set out. When we started we said, number one, we have to defend against that federal tax increase, number two invest in education, three fight sexual harassment, four protect our democratic process, safeguard the environment, and grow the economy. The federal attack on our economy through the tax code, which I hope by now all of you know, the federal tax code had a provision that would eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes, hence the acronym SALT. We had to restructure our tax code to avoid the attack. They launched a missile, we were standing in the target zone of the missile because of our tax code. Our state taxes and our property taxes. We literally had to flee the zone we were in and change the state tax code so it no longer applied and we had to get it done before the missile hit. After launch, but before strike. And that's what this tax code change attempts to do. We went from an income tax primarily to a payroll tax. Property taxes move to a charitable donation tax. Again, it's optional. Some employers will do it, some local governments will do it, but it's our best attempt to avoid the federal assault. The real answer is to repeal SALT. That's what has to be done. That has to be done in Washington. I think that should be the priority for any congressional member who says they represent the State of New York because this provision hurts every New Yorker, period. There's a cap that they say it protects over $10,000 cap. It's baloney. This hurts the state, it hurts the state economy, the ultimate solution is repeal, and I'll be talking about that through the November elections. But in the meantime, get out of the way of the missile is always good advice in life as well as in tax policy.


We said we were going to focus on the middle class. We cut taxes for the middle class again for $40,000 to $150,000, from 6.4 down to 5.5 percent. $150,000 to $300,000 the tax rate drops to six percent. The number one tax in New York is the property taxes. FDR used to rail when people talked about high taxes in New York. He took it personally and he would go on and on about how the number one tax is not a state tax, it's not the state income tax, it's the property tax. Property tax is roughly two and a half times what the income tax is and our problem is reducing property taxes. We've been working at that all sorts of ways. Two percent property tax cap. It gets exacerbated by this SALT provision because now it's no longer deductible, whereas before it was. So that's about a 25-30 percent increase automatically on people's property taxes and that's why we have to redouble our efforts and the shared services panel that says the local governments can find a way to find efficiencies and work together and save money. Its common sense, everyone has done it, it's not that hard. It breaks the culture, because 'I'm my own town and I don't really want to share with the other town.' We have to because we have to bring down costs.


Invest in education - over $1 billion more for education. That's a $26.7 billion total. $50 million more for community schools. That's a total now of $200 million for community schools. I'm very proud of that, that says focus resources on the schools that need it most and understand that they need a holistic approach, comprehensive approach, because they're not just a school. They're a school where children often come out of a difficult circumstance where they may have family problems, where they are in high crime areas, so they need additional help. New initiatives in funding to ensure No Student Goes Hungry and providing youngest learners with access to computers. Higher education $7.6 billion - $1.5 billion more, 25 percent increase since 2012, which we're very proud of. Excelsior Scholarship now goes to its second phase. Families up to $110,000 free college tuition at SUNY schools, state schools, SUNY or CUNY. 'Well, $110,000 is a lot of money.' It's really not if you are putting one or two children through college and this is a program that goes right to helping the middle class.


Advances for the Women's Agenda. We have a national scandal that has been revealed over weeks. We have revelations of deep seated sexual harassment against women. It's the #MeToo movement, it's every week another woman coming forward and telling her story, and I have tremendous respect for the women who have the courage to come forward. But it says to the nation, once the problem is revealed, do something about it, right? You are journalists. You reveal a problem. Why? So government can respond.


This nation - the silence has been deafening on this issue. You are now on noticed of a ramped pattern of sexual harassment in every industry. Literally you can go right across the board and the nation has done nothing. I said in the State of the State, once again New York State should lead. That's our role. Here's a new complex issue. Let's see if we can tackle it first and come up with a solution. And we have. The nation's most aggressive anti-sexual harassment agenda. I believe we're the first state to pass such an agenda. Requires all state contractors to have a sexual harassment policy, train all their employees - that's contractors to the state. Prohibits employers from using mandatory arbitration. Mandates offenders to reimburse the state of any judgment of intentional wrongdoing related to sexual harassment. Bans nondisclosure agreements except when it is the preference of the victim and you can delete the victim's name and still have a nondisclosure agreement. Establishes a model of sexual harassment policy for employers to adopt. Protects contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or others from harassment in the workplace. Many people are no longer employees. They're independent contractors, they're freelancers, etcetera. The normal sexual harassment against an employee laws don't apply. We've extended them to those people who are more prevalent in the new economy.


We also have increased penalties for "sextortion." We extend the storage timeline for forensic rape kits from 30 days to 20 years. This is moving our attempts to find perpetrators of rape into the modern era. Right? We know that DNA is now the fingerprint for many crimes. We haven't been keeping rape kits long enough to really have a database that we can then go back to. Increasing it from 30 days, you never really had an opportunity to build up a database. Now you'll have 20 years of data. It also bans sexual contact between police and people in custody. We've had recent situations where police have had sex with a person in custody. The claim was it was consensual. The issue was, can it be consensual if you are in custody? Are you in a position where you can actually be freely consensual, and this law says you can't. Improves in vitro fertilization. Extends the states MWBE law for another year.


We also have a gun safety for victims of domestic violence bill, which is going to be on the floor. Question mark - we are not sure whether it will be passed or not. I support it 100 percent. I hope it passes, I believe it will, but thus far all we know is it is going to be introduced and I'm not sure of the fate of that bill. But I hope it passes and I'm cautiously optimistic.


Protecting our Democracy. We have another national scandal, which is interference in our elections, which is not debatable now. Not even for the cable TV shows. We know the was Russian influence in the campaign. We know that social media is now a new platform for the campaigning, in many ways more effective than TV and radio were yesterday. And we know there's no disclosure no social media. And that's where all these Russian influence peddling cases, and these Russian campaign violation cases have shown. Why doesn't the country say, you have to disclose on social media the same way you do on TV or in the newspaper? It's the same concept. Again, we've had a deafening silence from Washington. Again, we believe it's an opportunity for New York to lead and we will. We passed a law that mandates disclosure on Facebook ads, social media ads, etcetera, and no foreign nationals are allowed to participate in the campaigns.


Environmental agenda - we have the $2.5 billion clean infrastructure. $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, which is a high. We're getting ahead of a very serious problem, especially in Upstate New York, algal blooms, with a $65 million commitment. And we now have working groups, working region by region to come up with specific problems of their lakes. We are funding to contain and treat the Grumman Plume on Long Island, and we are beginning an artificial reef program along our coastline, which I'm very excited about.


Our focus has been growing the economy, and growing middle-class jobs. The Regional Economic Development Councils that are working very well are revitalized for another round at $750 million. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is the new pattern in revitalization. Young people don't want to move out to the suburbs and buy a house and have a quarter acre and a barbeque grill. They want to be in downtown areas. They want to be able to walk to work. They want to be able to walk to a restaurant. The want to be able to walk to their friends. So having vibrant downtowns is very important. It's almost as if the development circle has come 180 degrees. When I was at HUD Community Planning and Development, we talked about concentric circles, people moving farther and farther from the cities. This generation is the exact opposite. They're moving back in. Maybe because they grew up in the suburban environment, but they're moving back in. They want to be in the core. We have some great downtown areas in this state, which were degenerated as people moved out to the suburbs. We now have to get ahead of it and revitalize those downtown areas and that's what the Downtown Revitalization Initiate does.


We also have a $20 billion affordable housing and homeless plan. We're focusing on combatting homelessness. The numbers are on the rise, especially in New York City. We're mandating that local governments come up with a street outreach program that the state approves before they get any money. The street homeless population has gotten worse and we want to make sure local governments that we fund have a program in place to make a difference. $5 million for the Liberty Defense Project. This federal government is anti-immigrant. I'm an immigrant. We're all immigrants. New Yorkers believe in immigration and people have rights and should be in position to defend those rights. And that's what the Liberty Defense Project is all about. Additional funding for the Wage Theft Task Force. I worked on this as Attorney General. Undocumented people are often victims of wage theft because the employers feels that they have no recourse. They do have recourse, it's called the justice system and the state of New York. And we're increasing the number of investigators who work on those cases.


MS-13, which was a major problem on Long Island that we've been working at. An additional $16 million program to have alternatives for at-risk youth. We'll collect a $100 million opioid fund by charging manufacturers and distributers a fee that will go towards funding a comprehensive anti-opioid, abuse effort. We had the first voluntary retirement savings program in the state. It's for private sector employees who don't have a retirement savings plan. We're creating one and it would have the scale and capacity of a statewide effort. A pay commission, we had passed a law on a pay commission two years ago, or three years ago. That pay commission did not work out. This is a new pay commission, five members - Chief Judge, State Comptroller, City Comptroller, former State Comptroller, former City Comptroller. It has to report back by the end of the year.


We have in the budget what's called an anti-Janus bill. The federal government is anti-union. They have made that clear. There's a case called Janus vs. AFSCME. It is an anti-union case. It's an attempt to break unions. We passed a bill that helps protect unions in this state. I am personally 100 percent for working men and women. I'm 100 percent pro-labor. The labor movement built the middle class in this state. And this is a union state. It's the most heavily unionized state in the nation. New York State. And proud of it. 


Fix New York City. Short-term. We had an emergency action plan that we announced in New York City about a year ago. It required $836 million in funding. The state was to pay half. The city was to pay half. The city had refused to pay half. That has caused a delay in implementing the subway action plan. In this budget, the city pays half of the $836, which is $418 million. Basically it's retained from the city. But now the subway action plan is fully funded, and it can actually move full speed ahead. At half funding, it's like doing the work with one hand tied behind your back and it's caused significant delays. This is very liberating for the MTA, and now you're going to see the emergency action plan actually get up and run. That was the short term response was the emergency action plan. Long term we need a funding stream for the MTA. And congestion pricing, I believe, is a concept whose future has come. We start phase one of the congestion pricing plan. There will be a charge on for-hire vehicles in what we call the Central Business District in Manhattan. That's defined at 96th street south. A charge on for-hire vehicles at $2.75 except yellow cabs at $2.50. Yellow cabs have a harder financial burden. These are owners, operators that have the medallion. The medallion has now dropped in value. So there's a somewhat reduced price for yellow cabs. That generates $415 million. That would go to fund the MTA. That would be annual. We also have a bus plan. The buses in New York City move very slowly because the bus lanes are crowded. We add more enforcement and more lanes to the enforcement. 


NYCHA tenants win. This is something I'm excited about. I started in housing. There's something practical and tangible about a person's living environment. I believe it goes a long way toward creating community and creating healthy strong lives. You are affected by your environment and when you look at the deplorable conditions of some of these NYCHA units, it literally can make you sick and it literally can make you cry. I did a number of visits to NYCHA units because I wanted to expose the conditions. When I go, cameras come, and I wanted New Yorkers to see how deplorable these conditions were. Because if New Yorkers see how these people live, they will not stand for it, the way they did not stand for abandoning people in Puerto Rico. The tenants have gotten so frustrated, they've gotten a group and they've sued NYCHA and they've sued New York City. They've asked the state to come in and help, and we will. I'll do an executive order that will appoint an independent monitor. The monitor will be chosen by the New York City Council and the NYCHA tenants, who are organized in a council of presidents. The New York City Comptroller will be part of the process and will work with the monitor. The monitor will pick an independent contractor who will come in and prioritize work and actually get it done. We have $250 million more for NYCHA in this budget. That's a total commitment from New York State of $550 million. We are going to pair that with design-build authority for NYCHA, which will allow them to move even faster. Remember the state government has no legal role or legal responsibility to public housing or the 150 public housing authorities in the state. We never fund any significantly. It's a federally funded program. It's locally managed. So it's always the federal government and the local government. But in the situation of NYCHA it's so bad that New York State has stepped in. 


Rikers Island is an ongoing civil rights abuse. The federal government came in and said the people we hold on Rikers Island are having their civil rights violated. This in New York State, the progressive capital of the nation. The city came up with a plan that said it's going to take us 10 years to close Rikers. Ten years, about another 100,000 people who go through Rikers. It is abusive. it is dangerous. It is more assaults, more deaths than any jail in the state. 10 years is unacceptable. We're building a new airport, LaGuardia Airport, in about four years. It can't take you 10 years to build a jail if you're really serious about doing it. We're going to bring design-build authority to Rikers. Couple it with SCOCS, which is the state agency that regulates Rikers Island, to develop a shorter time period. 


The Brooklyn Queens Expressway needs rebuilding. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the geography there, but the BQE is an essential thoroughfare. And closing the route traffic through downtown Brooklyn would be a nightmare. So this is going to be a very challenging road construction project. We have done challenging work in construction projects. The Tappan Zee placement is probably the most notable. We will provide design-build authority for the BQE. The state will work with the city, local government, transportation authority to come up with a design-build plan that maximizes the savings and reduces the time. Remember also the design-build for NYCHA, BQE and Rikers saves an extraordinary amount of money for New York City.


I want to thank the New York City Council and the new Speaker Corey Johnson, who has been very helpful, and we've met a few times. The Council was very helpful in disclosing the abuses at NYCHA. They had some hearings that were just mind-boggling that disclosed the incompetence at NYCHA on such basic things as lead paint, which is a poison for children, so I want to thank the Council for their revelation of some of these issues and their help in solving them.


This budget also has something that I'm excited about in turns of reform on a somewhat policy geeky level. Everybody talks about education funding. The real issue in education is not the total amount of funding from the state. The state spends more money than any state in the United States per pupil. We spend twice the national average. So we spend more money than anyone. The real issue is the distribution of that money because we have an education inequality problem in this state. You know how they talk about income inequality as an issue, which it is, well maybe we live in a poor nation. No we don't. We live in the richest nation on the globe. It's a distribution issue. You have more millionaires and billionaires and you have more people living in poverty. You have the wealth. You distribute it poorly. Education's the same thing. 


We're spending more than any other state. It's the distribution. Well how does the money get distributed? CFE, foundation aid, so bologna. It gets distributed regionally. New York City gets this percent, Long Island gets this percent, upstate gets this percent. It's been that way for 20 years. And how do they distribute the money? School by school? Nobody knows. How could that be? Nobody knows. It's up to the local school district. Well how do they count poverty, how do they count the performance of the school, how do they count demographic factors who knows? We say this year you have to start providing school by school funding. Pupil by pupil. You know the range of funding is $11,000 per pupil to $33,000 per pupil. That's the range of spending in the state. Well how do will make this the same? And how do we equalize the funding? First you have to know what the funding is. So let's look at a school by school break down. New York City for example has 1600 schools. Some are high performing in wealthier neighborhoods, some are chronically failing in poorer neighborhoods. How do we fund each schools? How much do you fund each pupil? You don't know right now. Let's get that analysis, let's get it state wide, then let's run all the entire list of schools in the state. Who gets what, what performance level and then you can come up with an equitable funding mechanism. Education equity.


Penn Station we're in the middle of a redesign. ESD and MTA moving ahead on planning. This is not just a transportation issue this is a public safety issue. Current Penn Station is dangerous especially in this age of terrorism. There are two private owners that are involved. Madison Square Garden and the owner of 2 Penn Plaza. We notified them that the State has possible use of eminent domain in this matter where the state could condemn as a public safety issue. The owners of Madison Square Garden and 2 Penn have been very cooperative and we're negotiating with them and we're going to come up with a plan on an expedited basis to both include Penn but also make it safer. And part of making it safer is access and egress inside and outside Penn.


Across the street building the new Farley Moynihan train hall which is going to be great but that's a few years away, and that doesn't substitute for fixing Penn. We will have finally, finally, finally a train to the plane approved hopefully tonight this has been the long talked about we need a train to plane, we're the only New York City is the only city that doesn't have the train to the plane and this would actually approve the train from the LaGuardia to Long Island Railroad to Manhattan.


Hudson River Park is the west side of Manhattan. It's a magnificent undertaking. My father started with Mayor Dinkins. And it was a vision to put a park over the whole west side of Manhattan. Riding trails, walking trails, a whole green. At that time the whole side of Manhattan was deteriorated, it was piers, it was dangerous and then they started Hudson River Park. The park was supposed to be finished in 2003 okay? So we're only about 15 years late. There have been a number of disputes. A number of private disputes, I stepped in and actually helped resolved the last dispute. They have a finalized plan. It's 50-50 New York City, New York State. The state will appropriate $50 million of this budget to fund the plan and finish Hudson Park. The city must fund their $50 million in the budget as a match to the state. All of our construction projects are proceeding and are funded in this budget. We have a $100 billion infrastructure transportation budget program in this state. To put that into focus, President Trump his infrastructure plan for the nation is $200 billion. We're at $100 billion just in New York. That's how aggressive this program is. And it's working. And it's working all across the state.


The budget also comes with a $1 million coyote rescue and rehabilitation replacement program. This was a last minute add. There was an issue here locally that really brought to our attention and frankly I've spoke to the DEC Commissioner and we didn't have such an effort but I just wanted to show you our ability to adjust quickly and think on our feet and although the budget is planned for months, when something pops up we we're there, we're equipped, we adjust, and that's what we did with the coyote fund. We also did it with a new program where we have set up a $1 million emergency bail fund for arrested reporters. We call it Ken's Law I don't want tell you why. We call it Ken's Law because we believe in freedom of the press but we wanted that emergency bail fund. It was very difficult to get the legislature to agree to this. The Senate was adamant that it would not agree. We came up with a last minute compromise where they would agree to the bail fund if we would have coupled it with an anger management program as an alternative to incarceration program. And that's the marriage that we made and we think it works out for all.

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