April 10, 2019
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Highlights of Western New York FY 2020 Budget

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

 

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the highlights of the FY 2020 Budget. The Budget, building upon the Governor's 2019 Justice Agenda, delivers comprehensive provisions to ensure social and economic justice for all, protects New Yorkers against Washington's continued federal rollbacks and assaults on the middle class, increases education funding, reforms the state's criminal justice system, supports New York's ongoing commitment to a strong women's agenda, and prioritizes investments in infrastructure projects critical to meeting New York's 21st century needs. For the ninth consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth at 2%. 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 remarks is available below:

 

Good afternoon. Good afternoon. And it is a good afternoon. It's a pleasure for me to be back in Buffalo, Western New York. Pleasure to be at Buffalo State. Let me acknowledge - yeah go ahead, more than that. Buffalo State has some really prestigious alumni, like Mayor Byron Brown. Give him a round of applause.

I'm going to go through what we did in the state in our budget, they call it a budget, it's really not a budget, it's really a whole action plan for the state. Laws, policies, programs. And we're excited about that. And then you'll hear from Mr. Howard Zemsky, Mr. Western New York himself, let's give him a round of applause.  Then you'll hear from our great County Executive Mark Poloncarz. And then we save the Buff State Alumni for last, Mayor Byron Brown, give him another round of applause. We also have with us our state budget Director, who worked out the whole budget, he's the architect and he's a master of the trade, Robert Mujica. Let's give him a round of applause. We have John Maggiore, who always puts Buffalo first, whatever we're doing. Let's give him a round of applause. And our fantastic Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is with us today. 

So we went through a long couple of months and hard couple of months in the state. Because the truth is the state today like states across this country are facing significant forces that are threatening the very viability of the state of New York. We have a federal government that is constantly assaulting our state. The changes in the tax code that they made where they eliminated the deductibility of state and local taxes, so called SALT, will cost us $15 billion more in taxes. And remember New York is the number one donor state to the federal government.

 

Just think about this. The federal government, ten states donate into the federal pot and 40 states take out of the federal pot. Of the ten donor states, New York is the number one donor state. $36 million dollars more every year than we get back. The SALT reform increase the $36 billion by $15 billion dollars. It was an egregious political taking and we are fighting it every way we can. I am organizing governors all across the nation. I am going to the congress to repeal it, but it is a serious assault on the state of New York. We are still investing heavily into the upstate New York economy. For many years it was not given the attention that it deserves. I am proud to say that my administration is investing more in upstate New York than any administration in the history of New York and we are continuing to do that.

 

We have to reform our criminal justice system. That has been unfair for many, many years racially impacting people. We did that. We have significant public infrastructure problems, transit problems that have to be addressed. We did that also. We have the new phenomenon of extreme weather and this in an environment of political extremism. You have a body politic where they are annoyed, they are angry, everybody has an opinion, it is a very strong opinion, nobody wants to compromise. So it made a very difficult if not toxic situation for the state of New York. But when you have big problems they require big solutions and that is what we laid out. We started in December, before I even took office, we had a 20-point agenda - the most aggressive agenda I ever put forward for the state of New York. But right at these big problems. And as part of this agenda we wanted the most aggressive agenda for western New York ever, as they say, and that is exactly what we did.

 

This is the next evolution of the Buffalo Billion. It expands our vision, our goal, and our reach. Buffalo Billion was like the first stage on a rocket, right? We had to get up, we had to lift the economy, we had to get the economy moving, we had to create jobs, create opportunity, great hope, create optimism, get people believing once again in Western New York, changing that attitude where all the dialogue wasn't about the good old days of Western New York, good old days when we had Bethlehem Steel. About the past, we had to get people thinking about the future, and believing in the future, and believing that the future was going to happen here, and that's what the Buffalo Billion was. A big economic boost, the biggest in history. To get people to believe once again. Remember where we were a few years ago, when we talked about investing in Buffalo's future and everybody had that blank look of incredulity because they heard it so many times and nothing happened. Well we did it, and things did happen, and there is a new energy, and that's what the Buffalo Billion did, and now we can take it even to a new level. Frankly a more sophisticated level, where we are investing in more areas simultaneously to take this even to a new level. With good news is, we got it all done, we got the agenda done, we got the budget done, we got the plan done, and we got Western New York more funding than ever before in the history of the state of New York. 

 

Overall, $12.7 billion from the state of New York for Western New York, in economic development, in transportation, in academia, in quality of life that has a broad reach into literally all the main engines and areas of the Western New York economy. Starting with economic development, we made the two percent property tax cap permanent, so people know that they have faith and confidence, despite SALT, despite everything else that's going on in the economy, property taxes are capped at 2 percent, that has already saved close to $2 billion for the taxpayers of Western New York. Over the next 10 years, it will save Western New Yorkers $7 billion. And that's a lot of money and relief they needed. We're going to cut taxes for the middle class, because the federal government did a very good job of cutting taxes for the rich, and the rich corporations, they didn't do that good a job for the middle class, but the state of New York will. We've been bringing down income taxes steadily, we bring them down again for incomes up to $300,000. 40 to $150,000 goes down to 5.5 percent. $150 to $300,000 goes down to 6 percent. So real tax relief for the working families of the state of New York. We have $212 million for aid to municipalities, smaller governments that need ongoing assistance, an additional 750 million dollars for economic development funding for our regional economic development councils, run by ESD and Mr. Zemsky. Western New York has done very well in those competitions, already winning over $550 million. 

 

And my guess is your luck isn't going to change. We have another $10 million investment for the winner of the Western New York downtown revitalization initiative, which is taking our downtowns in upstate New York that saw a vacation of people leaving, businesses leaving out to the suburbs, now we're realizing that we should have stayed in those downtown areas and redeveloped them, rather than continuing the concentric circles of sprawl, and now we're reinvesting into downtown areas because the millennials want to be there, the infrastructure is there, the nightlife is there, there's a real market and we're investing in those downtown areas once again. When it comes to transportation, metro rail is the centerpiece of the buffalo community. For years it hasn't had the investment it needs. That is it is changing, $106 million in capital funding, the first major rehabilitation since 1984. The funding will also undertake a study for the metro rail extension that we're all very excited about. 58 million dollars for the NFTA, an increase of$ 5 million to increase bus and rail transportation. In 2016, I challenged Mayor Byron Brown because I'm from the get-it-done school of government, and get it done fast, and why can't we get it done tomorrow. And there was a question about where to locate a new Buffalo train station. And sometimes in Buffalo we've had prolonged conversations about infrastructure projects. I want to take it, and we were to take it personal, but if that conversation on the transit piece went on any longer. So, I said to Mayor Byron Brown I'll make you a deal. If you make the decision in six months, we'll fund the study with 1 million dollars and then we will provide funding for the Buffalo train station. He got it done, we'll uphold our end of the budget. $25 million for the new, multimodal Buffalo Train Station. $16 million dollars more for road improvements. 

 

When it comes to academia, we've increased aid to education up to $2.4 billion- the highest level in history for K-12. A 3 percent increase from last year. A first in this budget, more transparency in equity. We want to know where the funding is going on a school by school basis. Not just to a district. Because we write a check to a district, the district then does the distribution as the school district sees fit. I want to make sure that the funds are going to the schools that need it most. So we want funding - we want those school districts to tell us exactly how much each school is getting and we want the school districts to prioritize funding to the poorer schools because they have the greater need and that's what we should've been doing for years.

 

We have $500 million in capital investments, just in the immediate area here. Albright-Knox, Buffalo Psychiatric Center, the Richardson Olmsted Campus, Elmwood Avenue Bridge, and $250 million for Buffalo State College. We have Excelsior Scholarships which will be life changing for people. This is for families making up to $125,000. Your child can go to a SUNY school tuition free. Just think what that means. It means no child has to worry about "if I get into college, can I afford it?" No mother, no father has to worry about "can I afford my child's college tuition? Can I do that for my child?" Up to $125,000, which sounds like a lot of money, but if you have to pay a college tuition, or two college tuitions, it's not. Those children can go tuition free, that will affect 15,000 students in Western New York and that's done in this budget. We're also protecting student borrowers from abuse. The student lending industry - I did many investigations of this when I was attorney general. It is amazing how the student loan industry has abused those students. That ends in this budget. We've also, in this budget, funded the Jose Peralta DREAM Act. Jose Peralta's a State Senator who lost his life, to fund education for Dreamers.

 

When it comes to the environment, we have the most aggressive Green New Deal of any state in the United States. 100 percent carbon-free electricity by the year 2040. That is the most aggressive goal. $500 million more for clean water, which is becoming more and more of a problem. $300 million for our environmental protection fund. We're going to ban plastic bags and this is long overdue.

 

Terms of quality of life, we have a President of the United States who wants to end the Affordable Care Act, it's called Obamacare as you know. And I think a big part of it is just the president's distain for anything named "Obamacare." His plan is to end it, but he doesn't have a plan for a new health plan. And he hasn't even called for a new health plan until after the next election. How convenient if you're a politician. It's not that convenient if you need healthcare between now and then. What we have done in the state is we have codified the protections of the Affordable Care Act into state law so those protections will continue. People with preexisting conditions, the Essential Health Plan, cost sharing for preventive care, limiting annual lifetime coverage, and codifying the New York Health Insurance Marketplace. So the president may end healthcare, but it doesn't end in the state of New York.

 

$10 million to end the scourge of opioid abuse, which is taking more and more young lives. And sweeping criminal justice reform. The criminal justice system is symbolized by Lady Justice. She wears a blindfold and she holds the scale of justice, because scale is blind and the scale is to weigh the merit, weigh the equity. How we evolved into a cash bail system that says, basically, if you can pay the bail, if you have the cash, if you're wealthy, you can walk out. But if you're not wealthy, then you have to sit in jail and you can sit in jail for a year or two before you ever get before a judge. That my friends, is not a justice system. It was not supposed to be that the rich walk and the poor sit. That had to end. It should have been ended decades ago. We ended cash bail for 90 percent of the cases. 25,000 people in western New York will now be free until they have their day in court. We also have speedy trial reform because the Constitution said you have a speedy trial. It didn't say you have a one, two, three years before you have your day in court. And discovery reform so that you know what you are actually charged with, and the prosecutor says 'this is what I know, this is what I have been told, here are the facts so that you can prepare a defense.'

 

We also passed the Child Victims Act because it is no longer a question as to whether or not children have been sexually abused by people in authority. We know that full well. We know it in Buffalo. You have had more and more revelations about sexual abuse. Those victims deserve justice and they deserve their day in court. This law will give it to them finally.

 

We have the most aggressive women's agenda in the United States of America. We have a president who wants to have the Supreme Court roll back Roe v. Wade. We have codified Roe v. Wade in state law so that if it is rolled back in the Supreme Court it exists in the state of New York. Mandatory coverage for IVF and egg freezing for women. Too many women who can't afford it and have fertility issues didn't have the protection. That changes now. Expanded rape shield protection, we reformed the domestic violence requirements, and increased funding for childcare programs. $26 billion so women can have their child cared for and still pursue a career.

And we are funding our transformative projects across the state of New York. I said we are now getting more sophisticated with a broader reach in our approach. And I emphasize progress on the east side of Buffalo. Why? Because the greatest success is shared success and, yes, Buffalo is doing well, but we don't consider it success until everyone everywhere is doing well. We believe the greatest feast has the most people at the table, and we are investing in the Buffalo east side. $4 million for MLK Park, $2.2 billion for the restoration project at the Buffalo Museum of Science, $4 million dollars for the Broadway Market, $2 million for the North Land workforce training center where we'll have a micro-grid and training opportunities in the solar industry, which is going to be the jobs of the future. $7 million for the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. $5 million for the East Side Workforce Training Program, teaching real estate development skills so we can help develop the East Side. $5 million for the historic preservation buildings on the East Side, many of which are spectacular. $10 million for East Side small business renovations and $10 million for the City of Buffalo to do street improvements on the East Side in targeted areas.

 

We're also expanding our reach to parks, to nature, to parks, to tourism. $12 million for the Western New York State Parks and tourism destination, $10 million for public access to the Buffalo Blueway, $3 million for the Buffalo Philharmonic, $35 million for Buffalo manufacturing Works to help manufactures expanding into new markets. $5 million to rehabilitate the Central Terminal, which is a magnificent building and a magnificent asset that we want to preserve for Buffalo. $18 million to expand Albright-Knox. $40 million to continue our investment in Canalside, which has been a phenomenal, phenomenal success. Think big. That's what we said about the Buffalo Billion. Think big, right? It's not about yesterday, it's about tomorrow. And tomorrow isabout thinking big. Just as easy or just as hard to do a big project as it is to do a small project. So think big. Thinking big is let's fund a national competition to develop alternatives to the Buffalo Skyway Corridor.

 

Cities all across this nation made the same mistake. When I was HUD Secretary and I worked literally in every state in the nation, we always made the same mistake. We blocked ourselves from the water. We built highways along the water. We built elevated highways along the water. Why? Because we thought that was the easy place to do it, along the shoreline. Yes, but now our development pattern has reversed and now the major asset is the water and we have walled ourselves off from access to the water. You have to reverse that trend and that's a problem that we have with the Skyway. There are many options that you could consider with the Skyway. You could keep the Skyway and developed the area beneath it. Some cities have done that. You can transform the Skyway into a highline. There's a highline in New York City that was an elevated roadway, rail line that they converted into a walking path, entertainment center that has attracted people literally from around the world. You could take it down and redevelop the area. You could leave it and come up with additional access to the outer harbor. So there are a lot of options. We need creativity. We need some exciting ideas. 

 

We'll have a national competition. We will pay for the winners of the national competition $25,000 for third place, $50,000 for second, and $100,000 for the winning design. So we'll incentivize the best urban planners in the nation, the best architects and design firms in the nation to tactually compete. We will have a panel that will make the selection. It will be chaired by Mr. Howard Zemsky with a picture when he was 14 years old. We'll have a panel of people who are experts in these areas. The panel will hear all of the ideas in the competition and once again, we are going to make it happen and our goal is to have this competition completed in six months. Let's find the best plan and then let's do the best plan and continue growing Buffalo.

 

This is the most aggressive plan for buffalo that we've ever done. In many ways it's the most aggressive plan we've done statewide. But we haven't forgotten the fundamentals and the fundamentals that are driving this state are our fiscal integrity and our fiscal moderation. This state today has more private sector jobs than ever before in the history of the state of New York. 8.2 million jobs. Because we respect the economy and we respect business growth and we do that by keeping government spending down and taxes down. And even with all these great projects, we still have kept our state spending down to record low increases—less than two percent per year, which believe it or not is a record in modern political history. Now I know some people in the room say how can that be? You're a democrat. Democrats just love to tax and spend. I resent that thought. It's stereotypical and it happens not to be true because there are democrats who can count also. Our rate of spending over the past nine years has been 1.5 percent per year increase.

 

Governor George Pataki, Republican, over 12 years average 5.2. Mario Cuomo, 6.9. Hugh Carey, 7.9. Nelson Rockefeller, great Republican, but boy did he love to spend money. 11 percent year to year annual increases. Why did New York have high taxesfor so many years? Because New York spent a lot of money. If you are spending more money every year, the only way you get the money to meet that cost is by raising taxes. And that's why the taxes got out of control. We have controlled the spending and that's why you see taxes coming down now all across the board. In terms of getting the job done, you remember the old days where the state was supposed to get the budget done by April 1 and it never did. It almost became like a running joke and you'd have late budgets year after year after year and school districts couldn't plan and the mayor wouldn't know how much he's getting and the county executive wouldn't know how much he's getting. I take deadlines seriously. The state, by law, is supposed to do a budget by April 1. People are supposed to pay their taxes by April 15. Nobody would tolerate it if you went past April 15 and you said well I had an argument with my spouse, we can't agree on how much to pay. That wouldn't fly. You shouldn't' accept that from your government either. And if you have a budget deadline of April 1, get it done by April 1. We have done that on nine consecutive budgets. You have to go back before Governor Harriman to find that record and I don't even know who was the Governor before Governor Harriman, that's how long ago it is. So I want to applaud the Senate and the Assembly for getting the job done for the ninth year in a row.

 

So this plan builds on the progress and the momentum that we have made all across Western New York. All the arrows are finally pointed in the right direction. The number of jobs are up. Taxes are down. Unemployment is down. The number of young people coming back to Buffalo, staying in Buffalo is up. And there is no better barometer of success that when young people are coming in and you're attracting and you're keeping, the hope and optimism are up. People know that this is a different Buffalo. They know that it's a different economic climate than it's ever been. Buffalo is red hot and this plan will fuel the fire of Buffalo's rebirth because you ain'tseen nothing yet. We're going even higher. Thank you and God bless you.

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