April 11, 2019
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Long Island Highlights of FY 2020 Enacted Budget

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Long Island Highlights of FY 2020 Enacted Budget

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Long Island 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%.

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:

Thank you. Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be here today and thank you Stony Brook for having us. I hope we don't leave a mess. Dr. Sam Stanley, thank you very much and God bless you for what you do. Kevin Law, mentioned an LIA road show, now that is an interesting concept, isn't it? LIA on the road. Destroyed the last hotel they were at - wild bunch the LIA. Kevin Law has done an extraordinary job at the LIA, let's give him a big round of applause. He now has taken on an additional responsibility where he is going to be a board member of the MTA, our own Kevin Law. So if there is any train delay call Kevin Law at 631-427. Kevin Law, thank you very much for accepting the MTA appointment.

Howard Zemsky we have here, who's a master of economic development, he's don't a fantastic job. Robert Mujica who has put the whole state budget together and has really done an extraordinary piece of work - it's a $175 billion document. It's not just a budget, it's all the main policies, all the main programs that we're going to get passed for the year. And he's done a great job. And our environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos, let's give them all a round of applause.

And Phil Eng, who's turning around the Long Island Rail Road, let's give him a round of applause. We have the dynamic duo, the two County Executives who are hand and glove. God forbid you say anything negative about either of them, the other one immediately rises to the defense, I love that kind of unity. Let's give Steve Bellone and Laura Curran a big round of applause. And on a sad note, we lost a great elected official who was the longest serving Town Supervisor, Pat Vecchio. He was friends with my father, I remember him as a young man. But, what he did for Smithtown, what he did for Long Island, what he did for the spirit of public service was truly extraordinary. We wish his family peace, and let's give Pat Vecchio one more round of applause.

Okay. As Kevin Law mentioned, we came, we laid out a list of priorities, we then went back to do the state budget, which is the most comprehensive document that we do during the course of the year. And this was probably one of the hardest budgets we've done. Why? Because the times are the hardest times that we have dealt with. We're under attack from Washington D.C. Their tax reform targets New York. We have climate change and extreme weather; the federal government was going to do offshore drilling off the coast of Long Island. We have some of the highest property taxes in the United States. We have real traffic congestion in downstate and infrastructure issues. We lost Amazon, which was a potential tremendous boost to New York. And we are in an aura and an era of political extremism where people are angry, people are frustrated on both sides of the aisle. Temperatures are high and compromise is hard. You put all of that together, and it was probably one of the most difficult dynamics to actually work through.

Big problems require big solutions, and that's what we did. Last December before I was even inaugurated into office I laid out the most aggressive agenda that I have laid out. We said we were going to get it done in the first 100 days. There were 20 agenda items, and part of that was the most ambitious, aggressive, comprehensive agenda for Long Island, as my kids would say, ever. And I said during the campaign that we've done a lot of great work on Long Island. I was running for re-election last year, but I said if I had another chance to serve the people of this state, we would do more for Long Island than ever before from the State of New York, and we have.

And we got it all done. This budget has $18 billion for Long Island, that is the largest amount of money the state has ever brought back to Long Island, and we're proud of it. It's also the most comprehensive approach, we targeted the key five areas that we've been developing for Long Island. We started with economic development, the 2% property tax cap, which people talked about for a long time, Governor Pataki was going to get it done, Governor Spitzer was going to get it done, Governor Paterson was going to get it done. We got it done in 2011. Now we made the property tax cap permanent. It's there, it's 2% and it's going to stay.

When you look at property taxes, we have some of the highest in the country, literally. And there's no real rhyme or reason to our property taxes. New York City is only $4,000 average property tax. New York State the average is $5,000. Countrywide it's $3,000. And the property taxes are roughly 300 percent more than the state income taxes. FDR—Franklin Delano Roosevelt often had complaints that people said taxes are so high in New York. And he used to take great umbrage at that that people were blaming him. And it's not the state income tax. It's the property tax that has been high and it's been growing out of control for many, many years. Over the past 20 years, property taxes went up about double the average income. And that's why people feel the pain. Because it is pain. That's why they feel the pain. You can't continue to raise taxes at an amount that is more than people are earning. It just does not work mathematically. And that's what we did for many, many years. The 2 percent property tax cap has saved Long Islanders $8.7 billion already. Making it permanent over the next ten years, typical residents in Nassau will save $70,000. Typical residents in Suffolk--$58,000. That is real money for a middle class family. And we want them to know that they can bank on that surety and they have that confidence to stay with us on Long Island. Over the next ten years, $76 billion will be saved and I want to thank for help on making this happen in Albany, which is not always easy, a new Senator, but a Senator who went up to Albany and did not play clubhouse politics with the fellow pols in Albany, but didn't forget where she came from, Senator Monica Martinez. Let's give her a round of applause.

The permanent property tax cap is even more important because of what the federal government did with their tax reform. What they did with SALT ending the state and local tax deductibility will cost Long Islanders $2.2 billion. It will raise property taxes on Long Island because what SALT means, and it's a little technical and people's eyes glaze over when you talk about the tax code, but this is simple. They eliminated the deductibility of state and local taxes. What does that mean? That means in 1861 President Lincoln passed the first income tax law in the United States to pay for the cost of the Civil War. When President Lincoln passed the tax, he said, "The federal tax will be levied after state and local taxes." Why? Because the state and local taxes had primacy and he was adding a federal income tax on top. So if you made $100 and you pay $10 to the state and you pay $10 in property taxes, left you with $80, the federal government taxed $80. It's been that way since 1861. What Donald Trump said for the first time is no, we're going to tax the tax that you paid to the state and to the county. We're not taxing you on $80, we're taxing you on the $100. So right now you're not taxed on your property tax. Starting this year, you will be. So the property taxes will be going up and that's why we want to do the permanent property tax cap to say to people, I understand that the federal taxation is going to raise the amount, but we're keeping it constant. We're doing everything we can to reverse the SALT provision. I've met with President Trump, I've met with Larry Kudlow, I'm working with Governors all across the nation to put them together to ask for basic tax fairness. Because this tax change is pure political, pure political. And pure hypocrisy by the President.

The President's number one point is we shouldn't redistribute income, right? You shouldn't take money from the rich and give it to the poor, that's bad. Look at what they're doing. In the federal government, there are 10 states that contribute money and there are 40 states that take more money from the federal government than they give. Think about that. The federal pot—10 states contribute, 40 states take. The 10 states are the richer states. And what the federal government is doing is they're taking the money form the richer states and they're distributing it to the poorer states. What's the number one donor state in the United States of America? The state of New York. We put in $36 billion more than we get back every year. With this change, we're putting in another $15 billion on top of the $36. So we're putting in more money than any other state and literally subsidizing 40 states. The former Governor of Florida wrote a piece, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying, New Yorkers, you should come to Florida, our taxes are lower. I said, yeah—I did a nicer response, but basically I said, yeah, that's because we subsidize your taxes in Florida. Because we're paying the cost that you're not paying. The federal government is giving Florida more money than it pays in. Meanwhile, we're providing the subsidy. It is hypocritical to their very Republican philosophy of taxation and it is devastating to New York and it has to be changed and that's going to be my top priority. But in the meantime, we need to stabilize our tax base. That's the permanent property tax cap. It's also a tax cut for the middle class where, from $40 to $150,000 the rate is going to come down to 5.5 percent, 150 to 300,000 an expanded version of the middle class, it'll come down to 6 percent. That affects 700,000 taxpayers of nearly one million on Long Island, so that's about 70 percent of taxpayers on Long Island are going to get a tax cut this year in this budget and we should all be proud of that.

This budget includes $750 million for Regional Economic Development Councils chaired here by the very handsome and smiley, Hollywood-looking Kevin Law and Stuart Rabinowitz, President of Hofstra. Long Island has done extraordinarily well in those economic development competitions; they've won over $630 million. Let's give them a round of applause and thank them for their help. This fully restores the aid to local governments called AIM, $26 million. I want to thank Senator Jim Gaughran who fought very hard to make it happen. We have eliminated what we call the Internet Tax Advantage. One person knows what the Internet Tax Advantage was. You go into a store on Main Street you pay sales tax. You buy something over the web, you don't pay sales tax. It aggravated the lack of competition between the stores on the internet and the stores on Main Street. This says if you buy something on the internet, you should pay sales tax. It also happens to give Laura Curran about $19 million and Steve Bellone about $25 million, that's why they're happy today because it's not about love, it's about money. Steve Bellone and Laura Curran.

We're investing in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative where Long Island is the leader and they're exactly right. We have to stop the sprawl, move back to downtown areas. These Millennials want to be in downtown areas. They like the history, they like the action, they like the walkability. They don't want to get in a car and drive everywhere, it's a totally different mentality. And we have beautiful downtowns, but they have to be redeveloped. Another $10 million to do that.

In terms of academia, we brought more education aid than ever before in the history of the state of New York. A 3.9 percent increase. Senator Anna Kaplan was a great fighter for education aid, let's give her a round of applause. We also have in this education funding, transparency and equity where we're going to know how much money goes to each school district and they'll be a priority for funding the poorer school districts that need more help. We have in this plan something called Excelsior Scholarships, that I am so excited about. What it says is for families that make up to $125,000, children of those families can go to SUNY schools tuition free, period. So there is no child who has to worry about whether or not they can afford college. There's no father, there's no mother who has to go to be wondering "am I going to be able to afford my child's college education" which can be a tremendous burden that people have to live with. If they can get in, they can go, it'll be tuition free. It'll affect 26,000 students on Long Island and that's what good government is all about. We also passed the Jose Peralta DREAM act for Dreamers to let them go to college and let them get the same type of college opportunity that everyone else does.

When it comes to the environment, we're finally addressing the Grumman Plume which is only growing. We're going to spend $100 million in state superfund sites to continue the abatement of that project. Another $119 million for the Bate Parkway's water treatment project, which is affecting the entire South Shore waterways by literally dumping things that I won't mention into the waterway. $40 million for the Smithtown and Kings Park sewer infrastructure. $64 of the 390 for the Suffolk sewer systems in Wyandanch, Patchogue, Forge River, and Oakdale, you're welcome Steve Bellone. $26 million to sewer homes in Oakdale. We have banned plastic bags, which sound like a little thing but it's a big thing. $500 million more for clean water infrastructure, which is imperative here on Long Island. $1.5 million for clean energy, food waste, recycling facility in Yaphank that will also generate clean energy. $4 million for SUNY Stony Brook, coincidentally, for the shellfish hatchery at Flax Pond. Cleaning up the water naturally, putting the clams and the mussels back which were Mother Nature's filtration mechanism before we got involved. And we passed legislation to ban offshore drilling, and it was championed by a great, great champion of the environment, Assemblymember Steve Englebright. Thank you, Steve.

We launched the Green New Deal, which is moving toward 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. It is the boldest mandate in the United States of America. And it is a real mandate. Everybody wants to get to clean energy, but candles are not really an alternative. We need a transition plan, and this is a transition plan, and our is more aggressive than any other state in the country.

We fully funded the Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million. It will go even higher when we have the paper bag fees, which will be added to that $300 million. But, we're distributing it in important areas on Long Island - the Pine Barrens, Suffolk County water quality, Nassau County water quality, Cornell Cooperative, Long Island South Shore Estuary. Investing in the environment to make sure we leave it in a better position than we received it, and we will.

We're also going to be investing in a very exciting project, the first phase of offshore wind awards will go out this spring. Nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, it will be a $25 billion industry that it is fueling. It is the most ambitious in the country, and it is bringing the green economy to Long Island today. And it's something we're very excited about.

Transportation - we are re-doing the Long Island Rail Road, but really re-doing the Long Island Rail Road with the kind of commitment we should have made decades ago. $6.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Rail Road, 100 projects all across Long Island. This year we're going to do 17 new stations of the 39 total stations that are going to be eventually completed. $600 million for the $2.6 billion Third Track project. Forty percent of the delays on the Long Island Rail Road are at the bottleneck that the Third Track will solve, and that is under construction as we speak. $6.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Rail Road. 100 projects all across Long Island. This year we're going to do 17 new stations of the 39 total stations that are going to be eventually completed. $600 million for the $2.6 billion third track project. 40 percent of the delays on the Long Island Rail Road are at the bottleneck that the third track will solve and that is under construction as we speak.

We're also going to have a mid-Suffolk train yard so we can store trains on Long Island and we won't have the problem of moving trains back and forth. That is under construction. We had the Jamaica station under construction, reconfiguring tracks to stop the delays there. We're investing $734 [million] to buy 200 new train cars so people have a better commute. We're expediting the 40-year East Side Access project. This was announced by Mayor Lindsey and Governor Nelson Rockefeller and we're going to finish this if I have to go down there with a shovel myself, we are going to get this done so help me, God. I'm going to bring Anthony Simon and John Durso and we're going to work like the old days, but we're going to get it done, gentlemen.

We're also investing $600 million this year in what's going to be a really fantastic terminal. $2.5 billion Moynihan Train Hall Penn Farley Complex. This is right across the street from Penn Station. It's the old post office building that is going to be all redone. They talked about this 20 years ago, nothing happened. It's under construction today. It will be state of the art and it will be magnificent and it will be an alternative to Penn Station. So when you come in on the Long Island Rail Road, you do not have to get out at Penn Station, which I call the seven levels of hell. Amtrak doesn't like it when I say that because they own it. But I consider it the seven levels of hell, so I say it anyway. This is right across the street. You can exit and enter through this train hall and it is going to be magnificent. Shops, beautiful restaurants, it really is going to be exquisite and it's under construction now.

We're also building an entrance right next to Madison Square Garden so you'll have an even faster entrance and exit into the Long Island Rail Road if you don't want to go through the terminal. So you'll have the terminal in the post office, an entrance on the corner, and the existing Penn Station if for some reason you want to go into that. And this is also under construction now.

We also in this budget did a total revamp of the MTA, which is probably the most dysfunctional agency in the state right now. And I said to the people of this state and to the legislature, I am not going to approve one more penny for the MTA until we overhaul the management. Because I am tired of throwing good money after bad. And if an organization is not run well, the answer is not to throw more money at it. The answer is to fix the organization. And we have the most aggressive restructuring plan, reorganization plan of the MTA that has ever been proposed since it was first formed by Governor Rockefeller. It was flawed from inception. When Governor Rockefeller put it together, they wanted to come up with an organization that no politician was responsible for. So you have some gubernatorial appointees, some mayoral appointees, some county executive appointees, nobody wanted to be anywhere near it. And nobody had accountability, and it is as dysfunctional as it comes. We're going to reorganize the entire MTA. We're going to modify the board, which we did. Stop the fare evasion, do a forensic audit, get an accountant who knows how to count into the MTA, and then, we are going to provide the funding we need, because we've underfunded the MTA for a long time. You have 40, 50-year-old subway cars, and train cars. You have electric switches that are 60, 70 years old that have been under saltwater in Hurricane Sandy. We deferred all that maintenance for all those years, and now it's catching up to us.

There was an old AAMCO commercial before your time, it said you can pay me now or you can pay me later. You can either do the maintenance, or something breaks and it costs twice as much. Well. We're at the point where things are breaking, and it's costing twice as much. And we need funding, and we proposed and passed a tolling program for the central district of Manhattan, for vehicles and trucks that go into that area during congestion hours. And we'll raise approximately $15 billion. Of that, $2.5 billion will go to the Long Island Rail Road to fund our repairs. When you put these projects together, it is going to be a fundamentally different commuting experience for Long Island. And this is what I'm excited about.

People moved out to Long Island because it was beautiful, parks, green, great schools, and you could get to Manhattan when you needed to get to Manhattan. I remember when my father's family moved to Long Island. And I remember them bragging about 22 minutes, and I'm in Manhattan. You know, 19 minutes. They would count the exact. Yeah. That proximity. 16 minutes is now a day and a half. You cannot, you cannot sustain Long Island the way we know it by putting cars on the roads to drive into Manhattan or to drive even to other parts of Long Island. We have to make mass transit work. And we have to get that Long Island Rail Road to a place where people want to take it in the station that they want to be in, and sitting in a car that they feel comfortable in, and getting to a terminal that is accommodating, and not having the delays. And that's what this will do. And it's not just the Long Island Rail Road. Think of it, you have a new Long Island Rail Road, Second Track, Third Track, new cars, new stations. You can take the Long Island Rail Road to LaGuardia Airport because we're going to do a LaGuardia AirTrain connection. So you don't even have to get into a car. Long Island Rail Road can take you to LaGuardia, LaGuardia is going to be a new airport. It's under construction now. It will be finished in about three years. First new airport in the united states in 25 years. New LaGuardia airport.

We're rebuilding JFK airport, we're rebuilding the Van Wyck Expressway, which is the connection to JFK airport, and what they call the Kew Gardens interchange. I call it the spaghetti bowl that leads into the Van Wyck. We're widening all that. Electronic tolling on the bridges and tunnels that go into Manhattan. And then you'll have east side access taking you to the east side, and if you go to the west side, you'll get out at the new Moynihan station which will be state-of-the-art. That transportation system can fuel Long Island's growth for the next generation. Just the way the Grand Central Parkway, the Northern State and the Long Island Expressway fueled the first 50 years, this can fuel the next 50 years. And we should all be excited about it.

We also, we have the boldest women's agenda, Washington wants to roll back Roe v. Wade. We codified Roe v. Wade. More coverage for women who need fertility coverage, IVF, egg freezing, we expanded the rape shield protections, reformed domestic violence, increased more money for childcare so women can work and take care of their family at the same time. In terms of healthcare, President Trump wants to roll back Obamacare. He's hell bent on doing it, frankly I think he wants to do it because it's called Obamacare, and he just, politically hates that name. But, he just said he's going to roll back the affordable care act and he won't have a new plan until after next year's election. That is politically convenient. It's not so great if you actually need health coverage.

What we did in New York is we codified the protections of the Affordable Care Act for pre-existing conditions, et cetera. We do not care what President Trump says. The protections are going to exist here in the State of New York. That protects healthcare for 800,00 Long Island residents - just think about that. We also passed the most sweeping criminal justice reform in our history. We ended cash bail for non-violent offenders. Speedy trial reform and discovery reform. We have done more on gun safety. We are already the leading state in gun safety. We passed the Red Flag Law, banned bump stocks and expanded the waiting period for purchasing a gun. We are doing more to fight MS-13. We have been funding it with $40 million. We added an additional $45 million. I want to thank Phil Ramos very much for his advocacy on this important effort. Let's give him a round of applause.

We passed the Child Victims Act because you can no longer deny the reality, which we have denied for many years, that there were children that were sexually abused by people in positions of authority. Some of those people were religious leaders which I think makes the situation more unbearable. Pope Francis himself spoke to this situation and was very resolute in saying any clergy member who abused a child should be punished, not just in the eyes of the church, but also in the courts of civil justice. That is what this law does. They were people that were abused at a young age. They have never gotten justice. They have never gotten acknowledgment. Let us give them the justice that they deserve. That is what this law does and I am proud of it.

$25 million to fight the opioid crisis, which has taken so many young lives. This budget also funds what we call our transformative economic development projects and smart growth projects across Long Island. $40 million for the Nassau Hub, which is very exciting, bringing our total to $131 million for the Nassau Hub. $55 million for the Ronkonkoma Hub, which we are very excited about. We are building what we call the the research triangle. I believe we have the ability to make Long Island the next research triangle. We have the academic universities. We have to invest in them. We have to synergize them and that is exactly what we have been doing. $25 million for the Demerec Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor. $12 million for the College of Veterinary Medicine at Long Island University Post. $200 million for cybersecurity at Hofstra University. $75 million dollars for the construction of the Iodine Center at Stony Brook. We are investing in all of the SUNY schools on Long Island to continue the academic research and then the Long Island association. The Empire State Corporation is taking that research and focusing on commercialization, which is taking the academic research and turning it into a commercial product. What makes Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley? How did they beat us? They have academic universities, frankly ours are better, but they commercialize the development in the academic university better than we did. Not anymore, we have the academic universities and we are going to make the bridge to the commercial market. It is going to happen right here on Long Island. That is why it is going to be the next research triangle.

You see all this spending, spending, spending. How do they do it? We do it with investments. We are doing it in our means. The entire budget increase for the State of New York year to year is 2 percent. What is 2 percent? It is the lowest rate of increase in modern political history. Over nine years my annual increases have been 1.5 percent. How does that compare to past governors you ask? Funny, I have a chart that says just that. Governor George Pataki, republican conservative, year-to-year increase over 12 years, 5 percent. My father, 6.9 percent. You carry 7.9 percent. Nelson Rockefeller, big republican and big builder, spending went up 11 percent year to year. Why does New York have high taxes? Because when spending goes up 11 percent year to year, you know what happens? Your taxes go up 11 percent year to year. That happened for 16 years and then 8 percent year to year for eight years. That high spending drove the high taxes. You want to reduce taxes? Reduce spending. That is the formula. My Italian grandfather used to watch all those commercials on TV about weight loss and do this, and do this, and do this. He used to say 'you want to lose weight? Close your mouth.' You want to reduce taxes? Reduce spending. It is that simple. We have actually done that.

All state income tax rates are lower today than they were when I took office. Every person in this room pays a lower tax rate than the day before I was elected. We have also made the state government work. Getting the budget passed on time was a joke. With this legislature, we have done it nine years in a row. You have to go back to before Harriman to make that happen. So in short, the budget builds on our progress and our momentum on Long Island. The arrow is pointed in the right direction. Jobs are up in record numbers. We have more jobs on Long Island than we have ever had in history. We have more jobs in the State of New York than we have ever had in the state of New York - 8.2 million jobs. Taxes are down all across the board. Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, down from 8.2 percent. So everything is in the right direction. We just have to keep it going. We have the plan. We are executing the plan and we are working together as one Long Island. The future is brighter than ever. Thank you and God bless you.

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