Governor Attends 2019 NGA Annual Conference in Salt Lake City and Meets with Governors across the Country to Discuss Investing in Infrastructure, Strengthening States' Rights at a Time of Federal Hyper-Partisanship and Inaction
Cuomo: "Never before has there been a more important time to use our collective strength as governors to show how to lead this nation forward."
Cuomo: "Justice Brandeis spoke about laboratories of democracy. ... Yes, we are still laboratories of democracy, but states are now factories of democracy. And we are hospitals of democracy, and schools of democracy, and airports of democracy, and roads and bridges of democracy, and emergency managers of democracy, and the job generators of democracy. ... It is not the intended design nor is it sustainable long term. But it is essential today."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was unanimously voted to serve as Vice Chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) during the NGA Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Governor also met with governors from across the country to discuss investing in infrastructure and strengthening the role of states' rights.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. Let's give Governor Bullock another big round of applause. Thank him for his leadership.
We are all excited that Chairman Hogan - I like Chairman better than Governor in some way - Chairman Hogan is taking over the helm. He has already demonstrated his commitment, his energy, his effort and his achievement. Let's give Chairman Hogan a big round of applause.
And Governor Herbert, the Dean of the Governors, thank you for the hospitality and courtesy. Everything has been beautiful. Governor Herbert.
I am a New Yorker so I know you expect a blunt, New York-style assessment and I don't want to disappoint so here it is: Washington is a political mess. That is my shocking, revealing, candid assessment. It's also as plain as the nose on my face, which is saying something. So much for New York bluntness because in the case of Washington the truth is obvious to all. Washington is in a state of political paralysis and that paralysis has stymied the functionality.
I was speaking to a Congressman the other day and I was saying, you know we need Washington to work. I can't do my job without Washington working and the Congressman said, we've been making progress recently. And I said, Congressman, progress is a relative concept.
Did you ever hear the story about what the snail said when it went for a ride on the turtle's back? Whee! Yeah, so Washington has been making progress. Not enough.
Don't get me wrong. Governors are also good at political pontification and we have our own political battles but we also have a day job. We have to keep the lights on, we have to balance a budget, and we to respond to daily needs. Governors cannot filibuster to solve opioid epidemic. We cannot take a recess to educate a child. And we can't rely on a parliamentary point of order top build the road. Governors must deliver.
Justice Brandeis spoke about laboratories of democracy. We are beyond that now. Yes, we are still laboratories of democracy, but states are now factories of democracy. And we are hospitals of democracy, and schools of democracy, and airports of democracy, and roads and bridges of democracy, and emergency managers of democracy, and the job generators of democracy. States have no choice but to proceed on their own the best they can, to be the most functional unit of government. It is hard. It is not ideal. It is not the intended design nor is it sustainable long term. But it is essential today.
How long the political paralysis lasts in Washington is anyone's guess. This is not the first time there has been a strange illness in Washington. In the 1830s, there was a cholera outbreak. In 1865, there was typhus. In 1918, there was influenza. Let's just hope this condition passes faster and with less pain. But the governor's job is to deal with the here and the now, and today the burden falls to us the states to get results. To help people, to better lives, to solve problems, to make progress. That is what it is all about at the end of the day.
At the same time, I believe that is the best antidote to the Washington paralysis. To reduce the anxiety, the anger, the fear, and the division that has caused the paralysis in the first place. Working together as seemingly simple, but as extraordinarily profound as that concept is the cure.
As President of the United States in 1908, former Governor of New York Teddy Roosevelt convened the nation's governors to Washington because he understood the states roles in the essential notion of Federalism. and that was the initiation of the NGA. It may have taken 111 years for a New Yorker to become Vice-Chair of the NGA. I don't take it personally, but I couldn't be more proud to be part of the team.
Never before has there been a more important time to use our collective strength as governors to show how to lead this nation forward. Never has there been a more important time to show the people of this country that we can still find commonality and there is still a collective and unity is not an illusion.
The NGA is, in many ways, the only national vehicle that can do it. The NGA lead the way in 1908 and together the NGA will lead once again. I look forward to working with each and every member of this distinguished body. Thank you.