September 24, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at the Business Council's Annual Meeting

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at the Business Council's Annual Meeting
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Governor Hochul: "There's a couple of themes that you've already been touching on that I just want to amplify, and that is getting back to business. And I know that there's this sense of possibilities and how we're going to supercharge this state and its economy. And before I get into my vision for the state, I want to thank every one of you, our business, friends and allies who stayed. You made your livelihoods here. You had other options to go elsewhere over the decades of rise and fall, but particularly over the last year and a half, I want to thank you for sticking with us, and as a result of your faith in us and being part of our family as all New Yorkers, you're going to be part of an explosive growth into the future. And I have never felt more optimistic about the State of New York than I do right here, right now, as one of my favorite football coach has always said the Buffalo Bills, Marv Levy, where would you rather be than right here, right now? And that is the future of the State of New York. And all of you as our business allies, the people who create the jobs, but also create the energy, the electricity, that makes New York such a fascinating and unique place."

Hochul: "I know what entrepreneurialism is like. I know those of you who engaged in starting your own businesses, particularly the small businesses, you're all risk takers. I'm a risk taker. I wouldn't be where I am. You have to be that. You have to have that. I think that's part of the DNA of New Yorkers. We like taking risks. We want to take that gamble. We do want to go big or go home, and I want to help you get there. No matter the size of your business, I need you to survive because you're the identity of New York that people create jobs and opportunities. You are who we are as New Yorkers. You're a success, means the success of this entire state. So count me in as an ally, someone who's going to be there for you, who will fight for you to make sure that we do not lose out to any competition, whether it's in the space of cannabis, where I believe there's thousands and thousands of jobs and new industries, to be created that were not even focused on."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the Business Council's annual meeting. 

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

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here

PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page

A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below: 

Governor Hochul: Good morning. Good morning. And I saw many of you at the Otesaga July meeting. Boy, what a difference two months makes, huh Kate? So good to see you, and first of all, I want to acknowledge someone who was not had the opportunity to travel with me much over the years because of his government job. But the first, first gentlemen of New York has joined me here today. That's my husband Bill Hochul. So wherever Bill is, hopefully he's in the room, might be getting a cup of coffee. And to thank Heather, first of all, for your friendship over the years. We've worked on a lot of challenges together, and I feel stronger and that our state is in a better place because of your leadership, and I thank you. Let's give a round of applause to Heather Briccetti. 

Someone who's known to most of you, but the new Secretary to the Governor, Karen Keogh, has joined us here. Karen, make sure you say hi to everybody here. Former Governor David Paterson, a great ally of mine and a frequent advisor, and I want to thank him for all the work he has done from our state and also for his willingness to be so engaged in my administration. David Paterson. I know former Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy in the room. Where are you, Bob? Yes, no, all right. Maybe Bob's not here. Well I was just with Bob when we welcomed Constellation Brands to theirsite of a brand new headquarters in downtown Rochester is a sign of a great vitality and in the Finger Lakes region. So I want to thank him for that.

I know our former attorney general Dennis Vacco is here. Good to see you, Dennis. Donna DeCarolis, our president of Natural Fuel Gas, and our chair, thank you Eric Mower, also involved very much in this organization. And I did I just miss Jim Boeheim? Seriously? I mean, I started at Syracuse when Jim Boeheim started at Syracuse, okay. So our careers have overlapped a long time. Clearly neither of us are going anywhere, we love what we do. 

So, there's a couple of themes that you've already been touching on that I just want to amplify, and that is getting back to business. And I know that there's this sense of possibilities and how we're going to supercharge this state and its economy. And before I get into my vision for the state, I want to thank every one of you, our business, friends and allies who stayed. You made your livelihoods here. You had other options to go elsewhere over the decades of rise and fall, but particularly over the last year and a half, I want to thank you for sticking with us, and as a result of your faith in us and being part of our family as all New Yorkers, you're going to be part of an explosive growth into the future. And I have never felt more optimistic about the State of New York than I do right here, right now, as one of my favorite football coach has always said the Buffalo Bills, Marv Levy, where would you rather be than right here, right now? And that is the future of the State of New York. 

And all of you as our business allies, the people who create the jobs, but also create the energy, the electricity, that makes New York such a fascinating and unique place. It is the business community that does that, and I thank you in advance for what we're going to do moving forward. Heather mentioned a couple of little challenges we faced getting started, day five on the job. Well, actually day one we were cleaning up after the hurricane that started on the eve of my ascension to this position. So we're doing a lot of cleanup after Hurricane Henri, which was interesting. Five days into my job, we had a complete shutdown of the New York City subway system, absolutely unprecedented. So I had to go down and figure out what happened to our subway system. On day 10, we had to deal with the ravages of Hurricane Ida, which were really, truly devastating in some of our neighborhoods. And we had a chance to talk about how we're going to build back and reinforce resiliency in communities that had never had it. I mean, exciting things like water lines and drainage system and sewer. As a local government official for many years, I actually get excited about infrastructure under the ground, and I saw the possibilities to invest money. 

So we've shifted money from other funds immediately to work with the mayor. And that statement I just made actually is probably worth a headline, work with the Mayor of New York. So that's another indicator of this whole new era that we are in, that we are meeting the challenges, whether it's mother nature's assault on us, whether it's human error that can shut down a subway system, or of course dealing with COVID, which back in the spring, when our numbers were trending down, we were so excited. We thought, the end's in sight, certainly by fall, we won't have any problem, we'll be done with the masks, we'll be in great shape. Then this Delta variant just came up and kicked us in the head. And it's been tough. And the people who are healthcare workers and our teachers and frontline people, who've just thought, not again, please, Lord, not again. And it's happening again. 

But this time, my friends, we are ready, we are prepared and we have had the number one weapon to fight back against this pandemic, and that is the vaccine. And to all the companies that have listened to President Biden, who asks that all companies over 100 be vaccinated, to all the healthcare institutions and the vast, vast, vast majority of healthcare workers in the state are vaccinated, and I thank them, and God bless them for their willingness to be out there on the front lines, truly even jeopardizing their own lives when they have coworkers who will not get vaccinated. I mean, this is hurting those individuals, and this is what I'm laser focused on. 

You know, we've drawn a line in the sand. And I feel very strongly, my responsibility as Governor to continue to protect the health of the people of this state, but it's not just the health of individuals. It's the health of the business community. Our people need to know that when they go back into their workplace and I want them back in their workplace, that they're going to be safe and will not have any setbacks, because I do not ever want to have to pull the plug on this economy under my watch.

And we can fight that dynamic, which is happening in other parts of the world. We're not going backwards. We are going to continue going forward using all the tools at our disposal. So dealing with the pandemic, the health crisis, is job number one, and has been, and will continue to be highest priority. And we have our kids back in schools, and even something as simple as on my first day requiring a mask mandate in schools ended up being controversial, Not sure how that happens, but it did. And I don't mind. I don't mind waiting in any kind of controversy if it's on the side of doing what's right for the people of this state.

So, I welcome that, and welcome, well, I'd rather not get protested everywhere I go personally, but I'm used to it from my other jobs I've had in the past. So, what I also want to continue is our rebirth, how we look at the possibilities in this post-pandemic world and not just talk about how hard it's been, and I know there's a lot of vacant stores downtown. It breaks my heart. I just saw that the oldest diner on Long Island just closed and I've been in that diner in Riverhead. And I just want to go down and say, okay, if I buy some more food, can you reopen? Will you please come back? The little downtown shops and restaurants and breweries that we had worked so hard to bring to new life, and many of them just didn't make it. And also our larger businesses. I was in Manhattan last night, and just talking to some of the owners, I mean, skyscrapers, they say only 10 percent of the workforce is back. That's just not sustainable, and I believe that if we continue to focus on the vaccinations, but also bringing back in places all over the state, the culturals, the theater, Broadway's back. And in November, when the restriction on international travel is lifted, we're going to be ready. And you may think that if you're not a New York City business, this doesn't affect you, when we bring back millions of visitors to the city again, when they go to our sites, and visit our culturals, and go to Broadway, but guess what?

A lot of them get on buses and they go explore all the way over to Niagara Falls, and they go off to Long Island, they come up to the North Country. So we want to bring back those tourists. And I know there's a lot of small tourism industries up here in particular that have been hit hard. And I want to let the world know that because we're smart about the vaccination and our infection rate, depending on the part of the state you're in, is phenomenally low. 

This is the place to come to visit, but also the place to have your business. And as I've been recruiting and you don't know that, you see my public schedule, you think that's all I do in the course of the day. You don't know that I'm on the phone. And I am talking to individuals who are looking at job sites and project sites all over the country.And I'm the number one recruiter for this state. And one of the arguments I make when I'm talking about why they need to bring their business and literally millions and sometimes billions of dollars of investment here, according to some of the calls I've just had, and they see New York as a place when I sell them on this as the safest place that you want to have your business during a pandemic. And we're smart about it. We know what to do. We protect people, as well as a place that actually has so much to offer in terms of workforce development initiatives and our smart, smart young people who are educated in world-class colleges and universities.

I know we have all those assets and I'm going to continue pushing this state and all of its great attributes to other people globally as well as domestically because this is the place that people are going to want to come to when they understand that we have a business climate that welcomes business, that continues to support, creates the infrastructure that you need to expand your projects, and a lot of it is underground and we're going to have more money available for that, continue focusing on our airports, making sure they are world-class because we've gone too long with embarrassing airports from  LaGuardia and JFK. And I've just had meetings on that a couple of days ago. We're continuing with our great expansions there but also the opportunities created with infrastructure money coming from the federal government.

I pray that comes through because there is so much money, so many projects that will be had right here in the State of New York, and having Chuck Schumer right there at the front - I don't know about you but I thank God for Georgia and their election every day for putting Chuck Schumer in the position he is and that is absolutely powerful to have him working with Senator Gillibrand and our entire delegation to bring the money back to this state because we were the hardest hit by the pandemic. Our employment statewide is about 7.4 percent, but it's even harder in New York City. It's much higher in New York City. We're not where we need to be. But that money could help us just bring back so many jobs and opportunities.

I want to focus on our supply chain challenges that we went through during this pandemic - as a reminder that I never again want to have to scour the planet and particularly have to rely on China for something as simple as a mass to take to a hospital or a ventilator. Why aren't these manufactured in our state? And also, why is our automotive industry crippled because we don't have the chips to be able to put in vehicles because they come from overseas? We need to be the epicenter of chip manufacturing right here in the State of New York. We'll make it happen. And then we no longer have to be held captive to the whims of global supply chains.

Let's get back to our roots. I'm from Buffalo. We know how to build things and Rochester and Syracuse and Utica and all of our great cities, Albany, they're built along the Erie Canal and they made things. We still know how to make things and we make them better and smarter than anybody else because we have the most enlightened workforce and that's something I'm going to continue focusing on as well.

One of my highest priorities always has been, but now that I'm in a position to even unleash the power of government to make this happen, I want to be able to market to the rest of the world, when you're thinking about where are you going to bring your business, I can offer you the most trained, ready workforce, the pipeline, the workers to your business that you'll find in any state. It's a bold challenge.

I'm meeting it. And all of you are going to help me with that because what I want to do as you're looking to expand, or you're finding that you're having challenges hiring people, and I know according to Heather's surveys that's one of the greatest challenges you have. I read all your surveys, you know. What the members have said are the challenges, the vast majority said, finding the workers with the skills they need.

This isn't a pandemic related issue. We've been talking about this for decades and now it is time to meet that challenge because it's a competitive world out there and this gives us the leg up. When we merge the talent of our universities and our community colleges and our apprenticeship programs with the skills that are being asked for by the employer - that's the disconnect. Our universities and colleges are great. But are they teaching exactly, not the skills that are needed today, but the skills that are going to be needed by our technology companies and our clean energy companies and our growth companies in the next three to five years. That's how we get ahead of it.

And we don't know that answer until we ask the businesses to tell us. It's that simple. And then how those businesses reach out into communities that have been underserved for too long, that we can help lift people out of poverty with the dignity of a good job, especially the clean energy opportunities.

We made some very bold announcements. It is still Climate Week and every single day, and I'm going up to Lake Placid to make some more announcements very shortly, we are leaning hard into the opportunities created by what we know is already happening. Climate change is wreaking havoc. We have to build up resiliency infrastructure, but what about clean energy? What we can do to make us be poised, to be the nation's leader, into delivery of clean energy. And just this past week I was on the rooftop of Javits, which is quite amazing. It's the largest solar array and green roof in the city of New York, talking about this opportunity that we had.

We are trying to figure out how to deliver clean energy to New York City, large population area. And so many neighborhoods are dealing with the specter of these polluting facilities that are outdated and literally are creating asthma situations in neighborhoods where they should not be. They should not even exist but they need an alternative. So we studied and there was a proposal submitted for options, and one was to bring the hydro-power down from Quebec, long-existing transmission lines or else underground, bring that to the city, hydroelectric power, or there was a plan to bring in wind and solar in from Delaware County, another plan. All would be done within two to four years. Great. And they said, well, which one you think? I said, we do both. We're going to go big or we're going to go home is my philosophy. Why would we wait?

We need to deliver clean energy now. We need to up our standards now. Our environment and our future and the environment that we're going to be leaving to our children and grandchildren, we have to start fixing that now. So that's the sense of urgency that I bring to these initiatives and I need your help to support what is going to be, I'm going to be asking for the support of the Legislature, for a $4 billion Environmental Bond Act. Now you're going to say, that sounds really expensive, Governor, how are you going to pull that off? Let me do the math for you. Real simple. The cost of this bond per family per year for the next 20 years to protect our future investments and create millions of jobs is $36 a year. Now that's a visit, depending on where you live, a bucket of chicken wings at the anchor bar, it might be a garbage plate, a couple of garbage plates in Rochester, in the city it's probably a nice brunch. I go to Shake Shack all the time. Nobody knows who I am. I sit there and eat my veggie burger late at night.

We can do this. This is not a cost that we cannot afford. In fact it's a cost that we have to afford. We have to get this done. But also all the businesses and the spin-off opportunities from our investments in wind and solar and clean energy. This is going to set us apart. And I want all of you in the business committee to start thinking about how you become part of that story. All of you are going to have a role to play as we look for ways to invest in our people, the care economy, taking care of childcare issues, another one of Heather's surveyed questions.

We talked about this in back in July, that childcare has now risen up to be one of the challenges for our businesses because they're realizing they want more women in the workforce. Women are hardworking. They're usually held to higher standards, something I know a little bit about, but we always exceed those standards. Someone has to be taking care of the kids so we can have women realize their potential, but also be there to help the employers that are desperately seeking jobs. This can no longer be a families problem. It is a problem for our economy. It's a problem for society. And this is something that I'm going to be laser focused on because it affected me 33 years ago when I left a job I loved on Capitol Hill because there was no childcare options.

So we know what we have to do. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us but I only view challenges as opportunities and that's the kind of optimism and confidence that I personally have in this state going forward. And that's not just pipe dreams, my friends. It's based on a legacy of us overcoming the greatest challenges known to man. We always have the hardest challenges in this state. We get through them and we get through them together. When we lift each other up, that we give support to our business community, and this goes way back from my days, you've heard me tell the story, my mother wanted to start a small flower shop. My mom knew nothing about flowers. 

Dennis knows exactly where this shop is in the village of Hamburg, but she didn't like the flowers that were done for my brother's wedding. So damn, she was going to start her own flower shop. So with her daughter, the lawyer, fresh out of law school, barely sworn in, was going to start this business. But starting that business made me have a bird's eye view of all the challenges our businesses face, how you get workman's comp and unemployment insurance and all these, you know, payroll and how we're going to get this done. And then sitting there waiting on a Sunday, as I kept the hours for my mom, waiting for a customer to walk in the door, please, somebody come in the door and buy something. So I know what it's like and I helped start not just mom's business, but my sister's tech business, worked in family businesses all my life. So I know what entrepreneurialism is like. I know those of you who engaged in starting your own businesses, particularly the small businesses, you're all risk takers. I'm a risk taker. I wouldn't be where I am. You have to be that. You have to have that.

I think that's part of the DNA of New Yorkers. We like taking risks. We want to take that gamble. We do want to go big or go home, and I want to help you get there. No matter the size of your business, I need you to survive because you're the identity of New York that people create jobs and opportunities. You are who we are as New Yorkers. You're a success, means the success of this entire state. 

So count me in as an ally, someone who's going to be there for you, who will fight for you to make sure that we do not lose out to any competition, whether it's in the space of cannabis, where I believe there's thousands and thousands of jobs and new industries, to be created that were not even focused on.

And I had to unleash this opportunity that had been stifled for the first five months of its existence because a few appointments hadn't been made, got that done. The opportunities with even like sports betting, I'm sick and tired of seeing all the people, when I'm in the city on a weekend, driving over the George Washington bridge to cast their vote, cast their bets and all the money's going to New Jersey.

With all due respect to New Jersey, I want that money in my state. Okay. That's what I look at. Who are we competing with? Who's taking money that should be in the state of New York. And let's just be smart about these policies and create opportunities for more people. So, I'm looking forward to that. Heather, I don't know if you had a couple of questions you wanted to toss my way."

Heather Briccetti: Thank you for your presentation. I don't know how you have the energy that you have. I know you're all over the state and you were before your ascension, which I liked that choice of word. So the first one I have is you're sort of in a position right now where you're staffing up, but it's also time to build the budget. I know the state is, the financial condition, at least from what we've heard from the controller, is actually pretty strong right now. Do you, can you touch on what a few of your priorities are for budget going into next year? And can we make suggestions? 

Governor Hochul: You want to help me spend the money? Okay. I know where this is going. We're in better shape than we had predicted because the predictions we had made during the throes of the pandemic when our sales tax revenues and everything were just plummeting our income tax, everything was just down. We did get support from the federal government for many initiatives. And just as an aside, that has been my focus since I've been on the job. Four and a half weeks to get that money out. You know, the money from the rental assistance program that was not being spent. And we got that out, over, you know, over $500 million out. And when you think of it that's for renters, but that's for landlords that's to make the landlords whole, because they lost too much money during this crisis, as well as $800 million for small businesses.

So we've been benefiting from federal money, which does not have a permanent lifecycle. So we're conscious of that, but we do have about $2.1 billion in revenues that's an additional, but I also know no one predicted all these hurricanes, nobody predicted a pandemic and I'm putting aside half of that for the rainy day.

And I think that's smart budgeting to make sure that we're not caught off guard and the way things are in Congress. If we do have a continuation or another variant that brings us to our knees. I don't know that they're going to be able to get their act together in Washington and come up with agreement the way they did the first couple of times, I don't know that we can count on that.

I have to have the money there to pay for additional nurses coming into our state and perhaps to add surplus to our hospitals. I need that money there. So I'm not looking at it as just let's go spend. This is not Christmas time. This is about smart budgeting, but my priorities will be continuing in the economic development initiatives that have been so successful.

The downtown revitalization, the regional economic development councils, which I chaired for nearly seven years. So I know their strengths and I've seen the transformation of downtowns that have been given up for lost. I believe in these programs. And I wanted to actually increase money for those programs in particular.

And then we have 175 million for workforce development. I want to increase that, but also spend it. Let's not keep saying I shouldn't have that much. It should already be out in the communities, the same thing with the childcare dollars. That's how we're going to help our economy, help our businesses get people this childcare needs.

So those will be some of my main priorities as well as our continued investment in education and healthcare. Our healthcare system, we're basically crippled many of them. They lost a lot of revenues when we shut down elective surgeries for a long time. And they're still not whole, I'm very conscious as I have a lot of relationships with people in the healthcare industry, they talk to me all the time.

So those are what I want to focus on, but I'm not going to just go on a wild spending spree because the numbers look good right now because I need those numbers to look good into the future. So I can make these long-term investments in clean energy in infrastructure and in human capital.

Question: Fantastic. So you mentioned the regional economic development councils, and that was sort of my next question. So many of our members have participated, have chaired some of the regional councils and I'm sure you know, many of them, [do] you intend to continue the RADC process and change it in any way? What's your plans there?

Governor Hochul: My plan right now, and I'll be naming the new head of empire state development. It's been quite extraordinary to build the plane as we're flying. It is kind of an overused cliche, but I can't think of a better one. So we've been staffing up. We have some major changes, that are still continuing to come. And I granted myself about a 45 day window to be able to allow that. So we'll see more staff and whomever, my leader of Empire State Development is we'll know that that is one of my highest priorities.

And let's, I like the model we have now, Heather, but I don't feel constrained that that's the model that we have to stay with. I'm willing to hear from the members, all of you, many of you who've been members of these councils. Should we be doing something differently? You know, we don't have, I don't want to dictate from Albany. 

I started in local government. I didn't like when Albany was telling me what to do all the time and I fought back a lot of times. So, that's just how I am and I want to hear from the business community. So if you would be willing to put together based on recommendations of your members, how, if they were in my shoes, what they would be doing with our regional councils, there's a way to bolster them, make them more impactful. What has worked, what hasn't, because I'm going to be asking that of many programs that are existing. Don't just keep it going because it's there and we don't always have to burn it down and start over. Let's take the best. And I'm also attracting some of the smartest people on, not just in this state, but in this country who want to be part of our administration and to them and to the existing, individuals who will remain, I'm empowering them to do what they do best.

I don't want to have my hands all over the MTA. I don't want to be dealing with the Port Authority issues day to day to day. There are smart people. I'm empowering people. I'm telling them my priorities. I'm saying execute. If you need my help, I'll be there. And I'm going to do that with every level of the cabinet, including our economic development programs. So I'm looking for ideas.

Heather Briccetti: All right. I have an idea about manufacturing. October 1st is national manufacturing day. Um, for the past several years, we've asked the administration to issue a proclamation, in support of national manufacturing day. And it's to recognize the important contributions you mentioned it. So if I send over the proclamation, would you take a look at it?

Governor Hochul: Absolutely. Yeah. If you get me a pen, I'll sign it now. Of course. And you know I love manufacturing, you know, I've walked through more manufacturing facilities to probably anybody on this planet because I love, whether it's advanced manufacturing, we're going into clean rooms, we're all suited up with, you know, we looked like for you about to do a moonwalk or I'm just walking, you know, the older industries, like, you know, the existing steel plants.

And when I'm walking the floors of the GM plant in Tonawanda, I love that because I see things being made and I'm so intellectually curious, meaning how does that work? I'm always, if my staff schedules a 20-minute tour, it's going to take an hour because I'm asking so many questions and I always say to the plant manager or the CEO. Tell me about the jobs here. What do you need? What skills do you need? Can someone with just a high school degree get a job here? If not, what do you need me to have them taught in high school? Should they be in a BOCES program? Should they be in an apprenticeship program, how do we meet your needs and how do I help you?

Next question. How do I help you expand? Whatever you're doing here, how do we grow it bigger? Let's plan my visit to a couple of manufacturing stops and by blowing up an existing schedule, but I will be in a manufacturing facility, handing my proclamation to somebody on that day, Heather.

Heather Briccetti: All right, fantastic. Thank you so much. Last question. I know you have a very tight schedule, but I think very significant to lots of people here, are the bills going to stay in Western New York?

Governor Hochul: They sure as hell are.

Heather Briccetti: Thank you so much governor.

Governor Hochul: And I want to thank our sports organizations, the Jets, the Giants and the Bills who joined me yesterday in person. And it was interesting. I won't name a name, but one of the former giants was there and we actually had a little deep conversation about a particular game, a particular super bowl, a few years back.

And it kind of opened up a few wounds, but we kind of, we all praised Scotty Norwood. We all said, you know, he was hailed as a hero when he came back to Buffalo because that's the kind of community we are. But there are some things I'll just never get over. But I love, I'm a parent of a big family, I love all my teams, but the Bills are staying and I'm very excited about cementing their future in the next few months. Let's just get that done. All right. Thank you everybody.

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