January 14, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Outlines 2021 Agenda: Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Outlines 2021 Agenda: Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew

In 11th State of the State Address, Governor Advances Bold Agenda for Building New York's Infrastructure

$306 Billion Infrastructure Plan - Largest in the Nation - to Invest in the Future of New York

Historic $51 Billion Plan to Redevelop Manhattan's Midtown West Neighborhood, Including the Replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Massive Investments to Bring the State's Airports and Transportation Infrastructure into 21st Century

Investing in Upstate Infrastructure to Spur Commerce, Tourism and Create Jobs

Governor Cuomo: "Acting on our own we have created the largest state infrastructure program in the nation. After years of broken promises from Washington we now finally look forward to working with a new partner in President-elect Joe Biden, long a champion of national infrastructure investment. ... Going forward, I believe that New York's capacity and federal resources can be a potent combination to do even more and now is the exact time to do it." Governor Cuomo: "We are expanding our infrastructure plan to invest $306 billion in the future of New York. That's not just the largest infrastructure plan in New York history. It's the largest, most ambitious plan of any state in the nation."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2021 State of the State address. The Governor's 2021 agenda - Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew - features a suite of initiatives to not only begin reopening New York as the state continues its work to defeat the COVID-19 virus, but also investing billions into infrastructure improvements to build a new New York. As part of these efforts, Governor Cuomo has put forth a number of proposals focused on transforming Manhattan's Midtown West neighborhood, including building a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, rebuilding the state's airports, and improving transportation infrastructure to create jobs, spur economic development and bring existing infrastructure into the 21st century.

Earlier this week, the Governor announced proposals to win the war against COVID-19, by addressing New York's short-term economic issues, ensure social and racial justice, and reopen the state while growing the green economy.

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

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks with American Sign Language is available on YouTube here and in TV quality format here.

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

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

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

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning to all. As I said on Monday, these are no ordinary times. We are at war, my friends. But we are clear eyed about the path ahead and we are committed to victory. I've laid out multiple specific action plans which we must execute simultaneously to address this complex array of challenges.

We have detailed our plan to stop the spread of COVID and manage our hospitals, the challenges of the vaccination process, and the lack of federal supply. We discussed the challenges post the COVID war, the reconstruction period, using testing to reopen our economy, and bringing the arts and culture back to our cities, how we must anticipate a changing economic landscape with universal broadband and seizing opportunities such as our transformation to a green economy.

We've established that the State's short term $15 billion economic deficit must be addressed by Washington and the inarguable truth that Washington has assaulted New York for the past four years and that we must demand justice and fairness from Washington finally.

New Yorkers are just tired of subsidizing other states with our tax dollars. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan repeatedly made the point that New York has constantly been shortchanged by the federal government.

No state gets back less from Washington than New York State. It has been true for over 50 years. New York subsidizes 42 other states. Why should we subsidize other states to keep their taxes artificially low so they can then appeal to our citizens and businesses to relocate?

And it's only been getting worse. The new SALT assault on New York taxpayers cost an additional $30 billion. Let our federal representatives who now control both Houses in Washington finally deliver for New Yorkers. Basic fairness is all we ask, but basic fairness we demand.

Yesterday we discussed our green economy plan, a specific targeted opportunity and we are excited about it.

Today we will discuss a broad-based economic stimulus: building a new New York. History teaches us that when the private economy is lagging the public sector can spur activity, that when unemployment is high the public sector can create jobs, and when interest rates are low the public sector should invest, that only the public sector can build the common economic platform for growth, the foundation that all businesses rely on to prosper: our transportation system, our infrastructure, our broadband and our education.

This lesson has been taught many times through history and its success has been well documented.

While history has described the physical and economic benefits of public investment, there has been less discussion of the ancillary benefits. Building new projects, enhancing day-to-day life, seeing progress, also lifts peoples' spirits. Increasing belief in the future increases consumer and investor confidence, and in and of itself stimulates the economy.

No one appreciated this more than Franklin Delano Roosevelt as demonstrated in the New Deal. The New Deal not only built buildings. The New Deal built confidence. It raised physical structures and it raised the public's spirit.

Confidence is an essential component in our rebirth - confidence in leadership, confidence in government, confidence in our cities, confidence in our future.

The New Deal was born in New York State during Roosevelt's governorship because its bold, daring innovative spirit has always been our New York ethos. We built the longest suspension bridges, the longest tunnels, the tallest buildings, the largest underground transit system. We have always built what they said couldn't be built.

Our first great breakthrough came in 1817, when we built the Erie Canal, connecting the interior of the United States to the world through New York Harbor. The canal was such an ambitious and audacious undertaking that they actually moved to impeach Governor Clinton as being mentally unstable for believing New York could do it. But he did. New York did, and New York's trajectory changed forever.

But somewhere along the way, this nation lost its ambition. We sat by and we watched our infrastructure crumble. Meanwhile, the world developed around us. We saw the largest high speed rail network erected in China, the longest tunnel built in Europe, and great global air hubs take shape in the Middle East, turning barren desert into economic engines.

Once a world leader, this country lost the vision and political willpower to build boldly and bravely. We lost sight of the connection between today's construction and the prosperity of a thousand tomorrows. We chose to kick the can down the road - a road that was crumbling before our eyes.

But in New York, we once again took a different path. Across the state we're now building bigger and better and laying the foundation for our future. Not even COVID stopped us. Even as we battled the pandemic, we used the period of reduced traffic to actually accelerate projects throughout the state.

Just in the last ten months we: opened new terminals at LaGuardia, we completed the new Buffalo Exchange Street Train Station; we completed the RFK Bridge extension to put cars directly on the Harlem River Drive; we finished removing the Robert Moses Parkway in Western New York to access the Niagara River Gorge; we completed the historic and exciting 750-mile Empire State Trail from New York City to Canada, and Albany to Buffalo; we completed the $150 million transformation of the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse; we opened the new Saranac Waterfront Lodge in the Adirondacks, we started building the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine in Long Island, we launched Cashless Tolling on the entire 500-mile New York State Thruway.

Acting on our own we have created the largest state infrastructure program in the nation. After years of broken promises from Washington we now finally look forward to working with a new partner in President-elect Joe Biden, long a champion of national infrastructure investment. If you remember, it was then-Vice President Biden's criticism of LaGuardia Airport, calling it a Third World Airport, that I frankly used to provoke action and build a new airport.

Going forward, I believe that New York's capacity and federal resources can be a potent combination to do even more and now is the exact time to do it.

In downstate New York, the priority is to increase mass transit capacity, confidence and comfort.

The first step, I am proud to say, has been taken. The new $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall at the historic Farley Post Office opened on New Year's Day. It is a welcomed alternative to the woefully overburdened Penn Station. The new station harkens back to a time when society built magnificent and proud public works. The new Train Hall boasts a grand 92-foot-high skylight dome, and 255,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and modern conveniences cloaked in majesty and history. It will be a destination in and of itself.

But Moynihan Hall is just the beginning. Now we will expand our vision with a new Manhattan Midtown West development project to create a new West Side transit hub, and build upon it with new residential, commercial and public works projects that will combine to form a new, vibrant, exciting district extending over 114 acres. Now 114 acres may not sound like much in Upstate New York, but in Manhattan it is massive. It will be transit oriented development on a scale never attempted.

The next step will begin with reimagining and rebuilding a true blight in New York City: Penn Station, which is aging, deteriorated and overcrowded.

It was designed to handle 250,000 per day. It served 650,000 passengers per day in 2019. That's more than JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports combined. With the Moynihan Train Hall open, we can now redirect passengers and turn to redeveloping Penn's current cluster of catacombs into a world class transportation facility. We see the potential. In fact, it's already visible.

We just opened an exciting and magnificent new East End Gateway entrance to the Long Island Rail Road at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue. Amtrak owns Penn and the federal government owns Amtrak. New York has been a good partner to Amtrak and the federal government and now they must be a good partner to us.

But besides making stations more attractive for passengers, we also want to add track capacity. Today, Penn Station has just 21 tracks and they're shared by the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak. The mass transit future demands more capacity.

By acquiring the square block to the South of Penn Station we can build another terminal. We call it Penn South. That will add 40 percent more train capacity by adding at least 8 additional underground tracks.

This new complex also anticipates 2 new cross river train tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the West and the renovation of the 2 existing cross river tunnels for a total of 4 train tunnels from points South and West of New York. Washington has delayed these tunnels, called the Gateway Project for years and they must finally move forward.

New York State stands ready to help in an equitable Gateway venture, but New York has neither the resources, nor the patience to partner in more wasteful bureaucracy. Taken together, the Moynihan Hall, the block South of Penn Station and a renovated Penn Station will double our capacity and make travel easier, safer and more reliable - and more enjoyable.

The new project will be called the Empire Station Complex. It will be the most ambitious mass transit development in the United States of America. That's just the beginning of Manhattan Midtown West. With this transportation project as it's cornerstone, the redevelopment will spread East to Broadway and West to the Hudson.

We are expanding the Javits Convention Center with a 50 percent increase, a 1.2 million square foot expansion. This expansion will make the Javits Convention Center a national leader in attracting conferences and exhibitions and it's going to be done this year.

We will also make 14 building sites available that will yield 20 million square feet of retail, commercial and residential development. Our priority will be to use these sites for affordable housing, creating up to 1,400 much needed units.

To make this a walkable, enjoyable part of Manhattan, we will also be able to expand the hugely popular Highline. In phase one, the Highline will be expanded eastward from 10th Avenue and 30th Street through the Brookfield properties, creating a 1,200 foot path to the Moynihan Train Hall. We are also studying a proposed phase two, in which the Highline will push northward and connect Pier 76 with a pedestrian bridge across 12th Avenue.

The Manhattan Midtown West development will also transform Pier 76, currently used as a police tow pound for over 20 years. Pier 76 is probably the most underutilized piece of real estate in New York City. After decades of apathy, Pier 76 will become a magnificent public space that will delight visitors and tourists and welcome all of Manhattan.

We will then turn to another New York City eyesore: the Port Authority Bus Complex. We will completely redevelop the terminal, adding space for commercial development, dramatically improving the commuting experience, removing bus traffic and pollution from the surrounding community. In total, these West Side projects represent $51 billion in investment and 196,000 jobs. Even more, they will show New Yorkers and the world that a new New York City is in reach and that the future is bright.

But that is just one project. We are working in every part of the State, building the foundations in which people will build their dreams. Across upstate, we have made historic investments in infrastructure, just as we have done downstate. We've replaced bridges, improved roads and highways, transformed our State parks and extended broadband to every corner of the State. We're transforming old manufacturing sites into modern communities where people can live, work and play. Now we're going to do even more.

In Rochester, more than half of the ROC, the Riverway Project, will be completed by the end of the year, including the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena. We will also complete a total overhaul of the I-390/I-490 interchange with a new flyover and noise reduction.

In Buffalo we are taking down the Skyway - an idea first proposed 50 years ago - and creating a spectacular park overlooking Lake Erie. Our construction team is ready to break ground as soon as the federal approval comes through.

We are also creating a beautiful elevated park in Albany. The Albany Skyway will connect pedestrians and cyclists to the Hudson River waterfront. It will be completed this year.

In the Southern Tier, we are going to complete the Binghamton University Decker School of Nursing to continue to enhance training for nurses at this critical time.

In the Mohawk Valley, we have broken ground on the new Utica Hospital that will open in 2023.

In the North Country, we will complete the new Midstation Lodge at Whiteface Mountain this year.

In the Hudson Valley, we are on track to complete the re-decking of the aging Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in 2022 and we're going to accelerate it, completing it nine months ahead of schedule. This year, we're going to open Legoland Theme Park in Orange County, drawing tourists and creating hundreds of new jobs.

In Central New York, we will transform the obsolete and poorly designed I-81 viaduct in Syracuse into a modern transportation corridor. We are conducting environmental and public reviews this year and we will break ground in 2022.

On Long Island, we begin construction in a few months on the complete overhaul of the Bay Park outflow system, which will end the dumping of sewage and pollution into the magnificent Western Bays.

We are also forging ahead with our historic efforts to build 21st century airports worthy of New York. Upstate, we will launch the $100 million second round of our program, rebuilding airports all across upstate New York. Downstate, we will complete construction of the new LaGuardia Airport next year and continue our transformation of JFK Airport.

We're going to continue to modernize our mass transit systems. We will accelerate key elements of the historic $51 billion MTA capital plan, upgrading signaling, purchasing new trains and buses and making dozens of more stations ADA accessible. We will further extend the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street. That will open up the East side all the way up to Harlem for new, exciting possibilities.

We will complete the $2.6 billion Long Island Railroad third track expansion in 2022, which involves 50 projects: grade cross eliminations, additional parking, modernized track and signal infrastructure. All along with 6 more station renovations. This will complete the modernization and improvements at more than 30 stations. This new Long Island Rail Road line can enter our new Moynihan Train Hall and Penn Station.

We are building new access ramps for Hunts Point Market that will continue the transformation of the South Bronx that began when we converted the Sheridan Expressway into a beautiful boulevard.

We will complete the Belmont Arena, establishing a new home for the Islanders in time for the '21/'22 season.

Altogether, including the new airports and roads and bridges and parks and housing in every corner of the state, and the visionary new redevelopment of the West Side of Manhattan, we are expanding our infrastructure plan to invest $306 billion in the future of New York. That's not just the largest infrastructure plan in New York history. It's the largest, most ambitious plan of any state in the nation.

And we will make these investments at a time when the interest rates are low, when New Yorkers are looking for work, and when we can optimize the value of our investments.

I hope you can see the program that we have been developing and laying out this week. We will continue to battle the COVID beast until we hit critical mass with the vaccines. We'll develop a state-of-the art Public Health Corps. We'll use our infrastructure program to help stabilize our economy while we're constructing public works that we're going to need for the rest of the century. We'll establish New York as the leader of the global economy - and we'll do all these things simultaneously.

We will learn from the past as we move forward. Shakespeare wrote, "The past is prologue". I am not sure that history repeats itself, but I believe, as Mark Twain said, that it "rhymes."

I sit in the office and live in the home occupied at one time by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Part of Roosevelt's genius was that he understood that it was not the buildings and programs themselves that actually turned around the economy. It was the people and their behavior and belief that turned the tide. Building with bricks and mortar was building public optimism and public confidence. That was the key.

In his first fireside chat from the White House, FDR said, and I quote, "There is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work."

Truer words were never spoken. New York will win the COVID war and New York will master the post COVID reconstruction because of New Yorkers and New Yorkers' skill and ability and talent and determination and the confidence that that capacity creates.

It is New Yorkers' belief in themselves that will create the energy to overcome. And New Yorkers are right to have that confidence.

I believe that there is a continuing thread through history - we see the true character of a people not in the good times, but in the hard times. When the pressure is on, small cracks tend to explode, and some people and some places crumble.

But pressure also forges strength and that's how diamonds are formed. In 2020 when things were at their worst we saw New Yorkers at their best. The pressure was on and we all saw New Yorkers under pressure become diamonds. And they worked together, they linked arms. New Yorkers were a magnificent chain of diamonds, different sizes, different colors, different shapes, different orientations, but the chain connected all. And the chain is strong, my friends. It will unite. It will forge community. It will combine our strength. We have done it before and we will do it again.

We do believe New York is the greatest place in the world, not because of our tall buildings or our long bridges, but because of the bridges we build from house to house and from person to person. There is nothing that we can't overcome and there is nothing we can't do together.

We are just too damn New York tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving. And we are proud of it. Let's get to work, together. Thank you.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640