Outlines Two Budget Options: One that Advances Aggressive Post-COVID Reconstruction, One that Causes Pain for NY if Feds Fail to Provide $15 Billion
Path Taken Depends on Level of Federal Funding after Devastating Economic Impact of Washington's SALT Attack Compounded by Failed COVID Response
With Adequate Federal Support, State Can Advance Governor's Bold Vision to Reimagine, Rebuild & Renew NY:
$306 Billion Infrastructure Plan - Largest in Nation
$29 Billion in Private and Public Green Economy Investments
$1.3 Billion Rent Relief Program, $20 Billion to Create or Preserve 100,000 Affordable Homes, $128 Million for Homeless Housing & Assistance
$15 Cap on Broadband for Low-Income Families, $150 Million to Address Food Insecurity, $10 million for Liberty Defense Fund
$130 Million Pandemic Recovery & Restoration Program Supporting Highly-Impacted Small Businesses, Restaurant, Arts & Entertainment Industries
$40 Million Infectious Disease Resiliency Commercialization Fund to Fast-track Innovations & Address Emerging Health Threats - Establish Public Health Corp
FY 2022 Executive Budget Briefing Book Available Here
Governor Cuomo: "We built the greatest state once before and we know that we will do it again. We have a strength that we have not had before. We have a strength because we went through hell, we went through the COVID crisis and it tested us."
Cuomo: "New Yorkers are ready, willing and able to relaunch New York. We believe that New York State is going to be better than it has ever been before. We laid out a full plan. We are ready to go."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo outlined the FY 2022 Executive Budget to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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, all. Pleasure to be with you this morning.
Everyone should know by this time, Mr. Robert Mujica, you know him from the great work that he has done on COVID and now on the vaccine program and the business reopening program, but he also has a fulltime job as Budget Director of the State of New York and normally his focus of his job is on doing just that - the budget. He's obviously had a lot more to do than just the budget this past year but he and his team have done an extraordinary job on the budget that we're going to send to the Legislature today and I want to thank him and thank all the people in the Division of the Budget who always do a great job and have for my administration's term.
We have been probably one of the most fiscally responsible administrations in modern political history. We've done more with less. We've controlled spending but we've done it smartly and we've done more so I thank them every year but a special thank you to Mr. Mujica and the entire division of budget.
Let me talk you through the budget concepts today if I might and then Mr. Mujica will have a briefing afterwards at 1 o'clock this afternoon to go through the actual specific details on the budget.
But this is a different type of budget than we've done in the past and we shouldn't be surprised by that because it's a different time, it's a different year, it's a different state, it's a different world than we've dealt with before. But this budget is really the economic reconciliation of the COVID crisis, the cost of the COVID crisis.
I believe this period is going to be one of the periods that are analyzed in history, Civil War, post-Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I, World War II, 9/11, and then COVID and what it did to this country and how this country handled it and how this state handled it, what was in the midst of it, how we come out of it. That's going to be the story of this year or next year and next year and it was certainly the story of last year.
But every story has different chapters. Last year was about fighting the COVID war. We were in the heat of battle last year. This year it's going to be about reconciling responsibility for the battle and completing the battle. COVID is still alive and well and this war is not over. We have the weapon that will win the war which is the vaccine but the war isn't over and it's no time for COVID fatigue. If you tire before the enemy tires you lose the war so that's what this year is about.
And then next year is going to be more about the reconstruction and the rebirth and the moving forward and who does that best and what state does that best than what country does that best because you're going have a resetting of the global economy and you'll have winners and losers and this country has to be a winner and move forward.
We have a full plan on how to win the COVID war fully and we're executing that plan and we feel good about that plan and confident. We're managing our hospital capacity. You see countries around the world, you see states throughout the country where their hospitals are actually getting overwhelmed and that is the worst case scenario because then people die who didn't need to die. They died because they can't get a doctor, they can't get a nurse, so managing hospital capacity is key and we've been doing that since last spring and our hospital system and doctors and nurses are doing a great job.
Second point is slowing the spread of the infection rate to balance with that hospital capacity and then monitoring these new strains that are popping up which really are a cause of concern. Viruses mutate. We know that. The 1918 flu pandemic, that second wave was a mutation. We see the UK mutation. We see the South African mutation. We see the Brazilian mutation. This virus will mutate and so far the vaccine works against all strains but it's something that we have to monitor so we're on top of that.
The vaccine is developed. I believe that is the weapon that wins the war. We have our distribution system in place. We have 1,200 providers in place today. We can grow that system within weeks to 5,000 providers. We actually have more of a distribution system than we have product and we need more product and the product is the vaccine and that has to happen from the federal government and from the pharmaceutical companies. Hopefully it does. Hopefully Johnson & Johnson has a vaccine that's approved. Hopefully AstraZeneca is approved. Hopefully Pfizer produces more, Moderna produces more, but the State distribution system is fully in place. Right now we don't have enough product to provide to the outlets and distributors that we actually have so we need more product and we're working with the federal government on that and we have a very aggressive plan for a post-war reconstruction and I laid that out in four separate presentations, very specific plans to reopen the economy, use rapid testing, getting arts and culture reopened, expanding broadband, rebuilding, making New York the green leader. We have a full set of specific initiatives for the reconstruction.
The budget is about reconciling the actions and the costs for the COVID battle thus far and determining now fiscal liability and responsibility. We did what we had to do last year. When the battle begins your response is almost instinctive. People rise to the occasion and do what they have to do. Now the bill for the battle has come due and the question is, who is responsible for the fiscal liability and responsibility?
New York's economy is suffering from two causes. First, the actual cost of COVID. Businesses were closed, we lost revenue, the expense of actually conducting the war, the disruption of last spring when we were assaulted by COVID, the lives that were lost. That's the actual cost of COVID. That's one element.
The second is over the past four years New York has been assaulted by the federal government in multiple ways and there's a cost to that also that has come due. In many ways New York is unique in the nation in the amount of economic loss it has sustained. The COVID assault in New York was caused by federal negligence and second, New York was used as a political piñata for this federal government.
We had a federal administration that was hyper-political. New York is seen as a Democratic state, an East Coast state. New York is seen as an urban area and that was used as a political statement - oppose New York to make a political statement - and it did great damage to New York. New York paid a bill for COVID that no state in the nation paid for and it's not even close in many ways. The remaining COVID cost in dollars is $15 billion. New York cannot manage a $15 billion deficit. These numbers are all hard to put into context. The largest deficit in the State in history was $10 billion and I managed a $10 billion deficit. It was very, very hard. $15 billion in this environment is just impossible for a state to manage. It's beyond what we can do. It is going to require assistance from the federal government. The question is how much assistance will we get?
President-elect Biden has proposed his American Rescue plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that rescues the country from the cost of COVID. A big part of that addresses the needs that we're talking about. There's money in the rescue plan for COVID testing, for vaccine distribution, funding for schools, funding for families and $350 billion for something called state and local financing.
This has been a major battle to get state and local financing in the package and we worked all through last year. I'm Chairman of the National Governor's Association - all the governors, Democratic and Republican - were united in asking for federal aid for state and local governments because of the financial shortfall we're facing. The total package is $350 billion, as proposed. The question becomes how do they distribute that $350 billion? How much of that funding goes to the New York State government?
We don't know, in short, what level of aid we will get. The budget is dependent on that number. What we've done with this budget is we've constructed it under two options. One, New York State receives $6 billion from the $350 billion. Two, New York State receives $15 billion from the $350 billion. We constructed the budget with contingent federal appropriations. Contingent on that appropriation from the federal government. Then we have two scenarios.
The worst case scenario is the $6 billion scenario. The $15 billion scenario is what we consider a fair funding scenario. Two options, one caveat and I'll get to the caveat in a moment. The overall situation is our four-year financial plan shows a $39 billion revenue shortfall. It's $21 billion in revenue loss over 2 years. Why is there revenue loss? Because businesses were closed, people weren't working, they didn't pay taxes and that's the revenue loss.
The gap was projected to be worse, but as the economy has started running again, the gap has reduced, but it's still very large. When this started, January 2020 before COVID, we were expecting revenue was going to grow $5.5 billion. In fact, it went down $5 billion. Luckily, we had $7.6 billion in reserves, a rainy day fund if you will, that we needed to use. The worst case scenario is that Washington provides only $6 billion. That would only be 1.7 percent of the $350 billion package. Worst case scenario, I would consider that the 2021 version of the federal government saying "drop dead" to New York.
New York City had a fiscal near bankruptcy and the State asked the federal government for assistance along with all the leadership of New York City and New York State. The federal government basically told New York to drop dead. Well, $6 billion, 1.7 percent of $350 billion, that would be a 2021 version of drop dead.
Population of the State of New York as a percent of the nation is 5.9 percent. Again, New York took the worst blow nationwide. If that happens, $6 billion from the federal government, then we would need to cut and raise revenue of $9 billion. To get to $9 billion would require everything that you could do. You would need to raise revenue, cut expenses and borrow funding.
The New York State legislature proposed an income tax increase. If you raise income taxes, top-rate which is currently 8.8, if you raise it to 10.8 and the State rate at 10.8 and the City would be a total of 14.7, which would be the highest income tax in the nation. You would raise, $1.5 billion on $9 billion. You then have to cut dramatically. You'd have to cut about $2 billion in education funding. About $600 million from Medicaid. You'd have to continue our 5 percent across the board reductions, which is about $900 million. You'd have to cut the funding to local government. You'd have to cut the funding for social services. You'd have to do all of this in the middle of the COVID pandemic.
On top of that, you would have to do significant borrowing that would hurt the State's credit rating and give our children debt that they would have to pay as our legacy. It would hurt New York dramatically and it would delay recovery. Janet Yellen was talking today about the mistakes that we've made in the past. If you don't invest in the economy and get it running now, you force more cuts. You actually slow the economic recovery for everyone. If the federal government doesn't fund state and local governments it's going to hurt all New Yorkers. It doesn't help if the federal government gives with one hand and then takes away with the other.
It makes no sense to give a $1,400 check to a New York family but then force the state and local government to raise taxes and lay off essential workers and continue the current disparate tax treatment through SALT, which is an additional federal tax. We want federal help, but we want the help that is fair. What is fair? Fair funding from Washington would be $15 billion of the $350 billion. That's only 4.3 percent of the $350 billion. Again, it's less than our population ratio and considering what we went through, I believe it's a modest request from Washington.
If we receive the $15 billion, then we can fund our labor agreements. We talked about $600 million. We can restore the 5 percent across the board reductions that we've done to date. We have scheduled and proposed and passed a middle class tax cut. We could go forward with that which is very important because the middle class has really taken it right on the chin here. It would fund education at the increases that we had proposed initially so it would restore all funding and fund the increases. It would fund the Liberty Defense Program, $10 million to help undocumented who have gone through very difficult legal and financial situations. It would enable our universal broadband program, which is going to be the first in the country, but it gets broadband to low-income families. Many children during this remote learning of COVID were left behind because their families couldn't support, couldn't pay the money for broadband access. We have people who are food insecure, who are literally hungry. I would fund $150 million for that. The rental assistance program, tenants who there's no way they're going to be able to pay their back rent, $1.3 billion. It would fund our affordable housing construction, our supportive services construction, which is housing for the homeless with additional needs. Our homeless assistance program, we have a dramatic homeless problem right now in many of our cities, especially New York City, and this would provide the funding that we need to actually make a difference on homelessness.
The budget then would also support childcare and support for families. We'd have a $40 million fund to cap copays for low-income families, an employer childcare credit, which would inventive employers to provide childcare, which would be good for the overall economy. $6 million for grants to start childcare in what we call childcare deserts. There are healthcare deserts. There are also childcare deserts. Fully fund our higher education, including our opportunity programs, including TAPP, Excelsior Scholarship, our free tuition program, which allows nearly 230,000 New York residents to go to SUNY or CUNY tuition free. And we want to make sure we continue and grow that.
It would fund our healthcare initiatives. We have $1.6 million more New Yorkers on Medicaid now, and it would fully fund that program. It would also eliminate copays for 400,000 low-income New Yorkers and promote coverage for an additional 100,000. It would provide $420 million for access to vital healthcare services under our essential plan, and $200 million for essential plan quality pool.
It would also allow us to get the economy back up and running, and focus a tax credit on small businesses that have been decimated through COVID with a rehiring credit. Also a credit, tax credit, for programs for restaurants, especially that were impacted by COVID. Restaurants paid a really high price for what happened during COVID. Many businesses were hurt. I believe restaurants would be at the top of the list. Even when other businesses reopened, we still restrained restaurants because of the social gathering aspect of the business. But, I did that with a very heavy heart. We have orange zones, micro-cluster zones, yellow zones, and the main restriction is still on restaurants. And they cooperated, but it's now our responsibility to work with them to restore their businesses. $30 million credit to get the arts and music and theater productions back up and running, because New York is not New York without them.
We also have proposals to add revenue. Mobile sports betting we think could raise $500 million. Many states have done it. Here the question is really not whether or not we do mobile sports betting. The question is more how. Who makes the profit, and this is very lucrative. One proposal is we allow casinos to run mobile sports betting. That's very good for casinos, and the people who support casinos. The second alternative is to have the people of the State of New York actually get the profits from mobile sports betting, and run it the way we run the state lottery, which is it's state-run, and the state gets all the revenue. I'm with the people, and I believe the people of the state should get the revenues. This is not a money-maker for private interests to collect just more tax revenue. We want the actual revenue from sports betting.
We also propose legalizing adult-use cannabis, which would raise about $350 million. $100 million would go to a social equity fund. That would still give us $250 million towards the budget and our needs.
So we're asking for fairness. Fairness from Washington. $15 billion in funding, and second, repeal SALT. Repeal SALT. What is SALT? SALT was a tax provision passed three years ago. It was the first double-taxation in history, and what it did is it placed a federal tax on what a person paid in state, local and property taxes. In other words, heretofore, you paid state tax or property tax, or you paid New York City tax, a local tax. You deducted that from your income, and then you paid federal tax. What this did was it literally taxed the amount you pay in state, local and property taxes. There was no deduction. So the federal government taxed what you paid in property taxes. Anything over $10,000. It was targeted directly at New York State.
They have to repeal SALT. 52 of our 62 counties have seen their taxes go up. The average New Yorker, average New York taxpayer, SALT deductions that are more than double the $10,000 cap that's now in the law. The average cost is $2,600 per home. We have the largest percentage of taxpayers who have had the hike in the nation, and it hurts the entire state. Literally, it has been one of the single worst federal actions to befall the State of New York. It also exacerbates the fundamental injustice that New York State has always given Washington more than it gets back. We're called the donor state. The number one donor state. When you have the federal kitty, and all the states pay into the kitty, and then Washington redistributes the kitty, no state puts in more and gets back less than New York State. No state. Over the past five years alone, we put in $140 billion more than we got back. We subsidize 43 other states. Senator Moynihan, God rest his soul, he talked about this. It never was remedied. The fundamental injustice against New York. We are the top donor state. We pay in, every year, $22 billion more than we get back. Other states receive more than they pay in. Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland. That's why I love when they talk about their low taxes. Yeah, your taxes are low because New York is subsidizing your taxes. That's why it's low. This has been a chronic injustice against New York. It was then aggravated when they passed SALT which made that disparity even worse. SALT was passed in 2017. It was done by Republican majority. It was blatantly political because they took from New York and they gave to Republican states. Everybody agreed. It was outrageous. I'm not just saying this now. I said at the time to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In order to pad their giveaways to the wealthiest, Republicans leveled a spiteful assault on suburban middle class communities with capping SALT deductions.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, a senior member of our delegation, Republicans didn't want to pay for the tax cut they wanted to punish us not just for voting for Hillary Clinton but they wanted to coerce us to have lower taxes and less services. Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, the Majority Leader form Westchester County, under the Trump tax plan our SALT deductions will plummet and millions of property tax payers will face even more crushing burdens. Speaker Heastie was full throated in his opposition. Mayor Bill di Blasio was full throated in his opposition. From one end of the state to the other County Executive Poloncarz in Erie County to Steve Bellone in Suffolk County speaking about how damning it was to the taxpayers of their County.
Senator Schumer, state and local deductions are bedrock middle class deductions that help steady the cost of many middle class families living in New York should not be eliminated or even reduced so people making millions of dollars a year to catch their own tax break. Senator Gillibrand, same thing and it wasn't just Democrats. Republicans felt the same way. Senator John Flanagan who was Senate Majority Leader, saying that it was just another tax obligation. Congressman King, Republican, the fact is one of the reasons why cities like New Work and counties like Nassau and Suffolk have had to raise their property taxes is because we've been subsidizing other states. These aren't millionaires, the people in my district who are getting screwed - Congressman King's words, not mine, but appropriate - are not millionaires. They're cops, they're firefighters, construction workers.
He was exactly right. This was proposed SALT originally back in the 80s. Then, Republican Senator Al D'amato stopped it because he thought it was unfair. This was during the Ronald Reagan Administration, so this has been universally framed as exploitative and it has to be fixed. It's also very costly to New Yorkers, $30 billion over the last three years. $12 billion per year directly to New Yorkers, literally just repealing it. New Yorkers will get back $12.3 billion which is more funding for New Yorkers then is in this entire bill and remember the current federal bill is only one year of funding. SALT is every year. That increases our taxes every year. If it's dropped, our taxes will go down every year. So what's basic fairness? Repeal SALT, provide $15 billion in aid. New Yorkers deserve and demand fairness.
My position as governor is very simple. I represent the people of the state of New York. That's my whole job description. I'm here to represent them and to fight for them, and they have been abused by Washington for four years, and it has to stop and it has to stop now, and all we want is what's fair.
I said that there are two options. Worst case scenario, fair funding and one caveat. The caveat is, if Washington doesn't provide to New York state, without fair share funding we're going to pursue litigation because I cannot in good faith represent the people of this state and know that they are being harmed and know that they being treated unfairly and not do everything within my power to try to do what is right by New York. When I was elected I put up my hand and I swore to fight for New York the best I could, and that is my only agenda, is to fight for New Yorkers, and I'm going to do it.
Now in this budget in the midst of this moment in history that I believe is going to decide the future of the state of New York. These are perilous times. The economy is shifting. These are perilous times in New York City. New York has paid a price for COVID. You shut down the activities we shut down, the apparent reality was that we had a COVID problem worse. We didn't have it worse, we just had it first, but New Yorkers paid a price and we need help and we need what's fair and I'm going to do my best to make sure we get it.
It's not just about SALT and about the taxes. New York has been consistently assaulted by the incompetence, fraud, and illegality of the federal government and the fiscal crisis is legally and ethically their liability. Yes, President Trump is gone, but the damage to New York remains. This was not about having an individual leave the White House. It was to restore the damage that he did and change the policies. That's why the people of this country voted to remove him. That's why the people of this country voted to change the leadership in the Senate. It's to change their policies, not just to change the face and a name.
It was a vote to undo the damage of the past four years and that's what we want our federal representatives to do. What happened on COVID last spring was a result of federal negligence. What happened to New York was no fault of New Yorkers. It was because the federal government lost track of the coronavirus. Literally, they were saying it's in China, China, China. No it wasn't in China. The COVID virus had left China. It had gone to Europe, and people were coming from Europe to New York. That's where the flights land. Three million travelers January, February, March when the federal government still thought the virus was in China, and no one said it was coming from Europe, and 3 million travelers brought COVID to New York.
How do we know that they missed it? Because they said they missed it. That's how we know. Head of the CDC: introduction from Europe happen before we realized what was happening. They thought the virus was vacationing in China. No. It moved. It got on a plane and went to Europe which, by the way, I'm not a global health expert, but I would have assumed that it got on a plane and it traveled. They didn't. Dr. Fauci said, everybody was looking at China but it came from Europe. This was at New York's expense. The typhoon touched down in New York and we were totally blindsided. Other states watched us, and they had noticed. They actually benefited from the New York experience because they did have notice, and they could prepare, or should have prepared, and they could have made the preparations that they needed to make. We didn't have that. We woke up one morning and there was one case, and a few days later there were hundreds of cases.
It wasn't just COVID. Whenever the federal government got a chance, they harmed New York. In funding the 2nd Ave subway, Democrats, Republicans, it didn't matter, they wouldn't do it; to rebuild LaGuardia Airport, they wouldn't do it; while tunnels are collapsing coming from New Jersey, they wouldn't rebuild the tunnels. We have a great opportunity to takedown the Skyway in Buffalo, they wouldn't be helpful. We've asked for emergency flood aid for Upstate New York, they declined us. They went out of their way to politicize every decision, even a decision on health care for poor people. We get the lowest rate of Medicaid reimbursement in the United States of America. And then, they illegally interfered with our right to do business and Interstate Commerce through the Trusted Traveler Program. Then you add SALT on top of that, which increased our taxes and redistributed it. The new government didn't cause the damage, but they are legally, ethically, and politically responsible for correcting it. I become Governor of New York, I didn't have anything to do with what my predecessor did, but it's my business to fix it, because now I had the entity.
I believe Washington will be fair. President-elect Joe Biden I've known for many, many years. This is a good man. This is a competent man. This is a man who loves New York. This is a man who was very helpful to me and New York when he was vice president to President Obama. He believes in infrastructure; he helped us with the Mario Cuomo Bridge. He will do everything he can to help New York. Speaker Pelosi, not a New Yorker but could be a New Yorker. She's a quality person. I've worked with her for many, many years. She loves New York and she has fought the battle on state and local financing from the beginning. She has state and local financing in the HEROES Act. She went first. She couldn't get it done because the Senate was controlled by Republicans, but now Senator Schumer - not just a friend of New York, a New Yorker - senator from New York and head of the Senate, so sometimes the stars line up for change, and I believe the stars are lined up for change, but we have to do it. Life is in the doing.
Life is in the doing and government sometimes is no good at the doing. You can have good intentions but fail to get good results, and that can't happen here. I believe government is about results. It's not just about fighting the good fight, it's about winning. It's not just about talking about goals, it's about achieving those goals. It's not about making promises that you can't deliver, it's about actually producing, and we live that credo here. The main responsibility is, we have to get a budget passed on April 1. If we don't get a budget passed on April 1, nobody gets a raise. It's that simple. Not Rob Mujica, not my commissioners, not my staff, not the legislators. No budget on time, we fail to produce, no eligibility for raise. We need that same accountability from Washington. We need results and we need them quickly because the budget is due April 1.
Last point. America must move forward. We bring in a new president tomorrow. President-elect Joe Biden becomes President Joe Biden tomorrow, and America is launched on a different trajectory, and he has to right the ship. A ship that is gone through a storm; a ship that is still in the storm, and still rocked by the controversy. Across the street -you can't see it but when I look out the window - there's a big white building, and that is the Justice Building. The word justice is on the corner of the building, and all through last year when there were long, long days and long nights dealing with Washington, I would look out the window and I would look at that word. That word says so much to me. As complicated as life gets, federal government, state government, as complicated as it gets, there's always a simple truth. There's always a simple truth that you feel here. There's always a right thing. The right thing. My father, God rest his soul, used to say, "what's the right thing?" There's always a right thing. There's always a right and a wrong. And the right thing, the goal, is just do justice. Just do justice, and that's what this country needs back, and that's the mission for Joe Biden, and for the Senate, and for the House. Just do justice. After four years of ugliness; and fighting; and vendettas; and politics; and division; and placing wedges in cracks all across the country; and trying to pull people apart; and trying to pursue the politics of divide and conquer - just do justice.
What's justice? Washington should finance the COVID war and the reconstruction like every other war before, like World War I and World War II, and the Korean War. Washington funds the war. Don't ask New York State, or any state, to shoulder more of the burden. Don't ask the state that was the situs of the battle to pay the cost. That's not right. That's not justice. Washington should raise the revenue nationally in a progressive way to fund the COVID war. It shouldn't pit one state against the other. I shouldn't be competing with other states, Washington should do that, that's their responsibility. Pass a progressive tax code nationwide, so when these rich corporations say, "well I only pay $700 per year because, that's your national tax code and I'm just good at navigating your tax code." Change it, so the rich corporations don't get away with all these loopholes. Change it. That's justice and that's what's right. Justice is we help one another. America has always recognized that when one state has a need, when one state is in trouble — other states help. Forget the politics. Forget what's right. There is a community aspect to this nation and if something happens — you have a hurricane, you have a flood, you have a storm — we're there to help. We're there to help as neighbors; we're there to help as a government. Post-9/11, post-Superstorm Sandy: that's what we did. New York State had the first and the worst attack. Everybody knows that. What's justice? Stop the past partisan ugliness. "New York is Democratic. Blue states, red states." No. Red, white and blue states. What's the difference? Forget the political labels. Get to national unity and do it by being fair to all.
New York's future is bright. We just need Washington to restore justice and be fair. New Yorkers are ready, willing and able to relaunch New York. We believe that New York State is going to be better than it has ever been before. We laid out a full plan. We are ready to go. We're going to be a leader in the green economy. We have 100 projects all across the state ready to go. We're doing the largest wind turbine projects in the United States of America with manufacturing capacity for wind turbines, five new ports, we have a whole transmission grid: a green grid that connects the entire state from Canada down with renewable energy and all connected on one grid. They talked about it for 50 years. They never did it. We're going to have universal, accessible and affordable broadband for everyone because what happened during COVID was a shame that remote learning left children behind who couldn't afford broadband access and those are going to be poor, Black and Hispanic children. That's what it's going to be because that's always the people who are on the short end of the stick. You want a new remote economy? You want to be able to work from home? Then have a new infrastructure of tomorrow, which is broadband access.
We're re-opening arts and culture because we understand the urban environment only exists with it and we're going to get it reopened faster than anyone else. We're going to work with our businesses that took it right on the chin and closed because we believe in economic justice. They did help us by closing and we're going to restore that. We understand we have tenants who can't pay the back bill and we're going to be there to help them. We have people who are hungry and we're going to be there to help them and we are going to build back a state that you've never seen before. We know how to build and we know how to do it well, and we know how the investment actually pays dividends for generations. We understand that we are still living on our forefathers' work, that we haven't built what they built. We are still living on their legacy. We're going to build our own legacy: Buffalo Skyway, new mass transit downstate starting with the Long Island Rail Road, to get that into a new Penn Station, new west side development, new recreation — a trail connecting all of New York where you can bike or hike from Canada to New York City all the way across the state. Rochester with the ROC the Riverway Project. Syracuse, New York, fixing i-81 that divided the city, finally fixing that. We know we can do it. We know it will work because that's what we do in New York.
We built the greatest state once before and we know that we will do it again. We have a strength that we have not had before. We have a strength because we went through hell, we went through the COVID crisis and it tested us and we were alone. And we were first and we saw people die and we rose to the occasion and we are the stronger for it and the better for it. Yes, it hurt. Yes, we cry. Yes, it took a piece of our heart. That's true, but we did overcome and we learned about ourselves and if we could get through that and learn from that, we are the better for it and we are the stronger for it and you're going to see that. Pressure makes some people and places crumble. Pressure also forges diamonds. New Yorkers are diamonds, in my opinion. They had the greatest pressure in my lifetime. They went through more than anyone could be expected and they came through it and they did it together. We are united in a way we've not been united before. This plan, this goal: it's all of us together. It's upstate, it's downstate, it's Democrats, it's Republicans, it's business, it's labor. It's all of us committed to defeating COVID and building in New York that is better that we can leave our children. Because at the end of the day it's very simple. Even if the day is long, we're here to leave a better place to our children than we inherited. That's it. Leave it better than you found it. A fairer, sweeter, more just, cleaner, stronger, more loving New York and we see an opportunity in this crisis to do just that and we will. We paid too high a price not to. Thank you.