January 26, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Highlights Budget Investments in Western New York

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Highlights Budget Investments in Western New York

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul highlighted Budget investments in the Western New York region. The City of Tonawanda will receive $10 million in funding as the Western New York winner of the seventh round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, as well as the Village of Gowanda and the Town of Aurora/Hamlet of West Falls as this year’s Western New York region NY Forward winners, receiving $4.5 million each. The Governor also announced that the University at Buffalo has been selected to host Empire AI, a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence center. Additionally, Governor Hochul announced $50 million in one-time Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding to support locally driven anti-poverty initiatives, including $12.25 million for Buffalo. Building on the Budget, the Governor organized One Network for Regional Advanced Partnerships to create workplace development centers in four high-impact locations across Upstate New York. Lastly, Governor Hochul announced $4 million in funding to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute to finance new mobile breast and prostate cancer screening vans and expand screening activities.

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

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

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

 Good morning, everyone. Good morning. Please sit down. It is great to be home and sleep in my own bed. It's been a little while and there's no food at home, I realized. Well, as the first Governor from Buffalo since Grover Cleveland, and actually the only Governor from Buffalo was actually born in Buffalo. He was born in New Jersey. I set forth the goal of trying to unify Upstateand Downstate. Some might think it was an impossible task, but today, I'm declaring success because for the last couple of weeks, whether you're a Jets fan or a Giants fan, I successfully united every New Yorker into becoming a Buffalo Bills fan, and that was incredible. Everywhere I went – Manhattan, Albany, North Country, Central New York – everywhere, everybody loves the Bills and still loves the Bills. And so, that was exciting.

So, when you step into this community, there is a different feel about it. There is this sense of It's a camaraderie, people are close together, there's a tight bond, and it's over the Bills, but it's over everything else as well. We've come through some tough weather, we've come through some tough times, and it really builds this tight feeling here, and I treasure that so much. And it's a sense of community you don't have everywhere, but there's also this toughness, and this resiliency, and a sense of solidarity that runs through it. So, whenever I'm back home, I think to myself, “Where would you rather be than right here, right now?” So, glad to be back.

Satish Tripathi, I want to thank you for being the leader of our time and making sure that this university, this flagship university, was and still is positioned to capture all the opportunities that lie before us. And I want to thank you for that leadership that has really put UB on the map and have made it easier for me to declare UBas a flagship university, something we're very, very proud of. So, let's give another round of applause to our host here today.

Mayor Byron Brown, I'm here and it's not because of the weather. What a good feeling, what a good feeling. We've been through so many battles together, often against Mother Nature. And I want to thank you for your calm in the face of the storm and how you bring resources to bear, and you work with this sense of camaraderie with all of us and with our partners in the county, Mark Poloncarz, and you and I just a short time ago. I want to thank you for what you've done for our community for many, many, many years. Let's give a round of applause to our mayor, Byron Brown.

We also have Mayor Restaino here. Mayor Restaino, thank you for being the keeper of one of the jewels of not just our State, our nation, but the world. Niagara Falls is known everywhere. And what you've done to help to build a synergy between the asset of the State Park and the downtown area, creating those connections and opportunities for jobs and hospitality and other endeavors. I want to thank you for your leadership there as well.

I also want to thank my partners in government. We have Senator Sean Ryan has joined us. I want to thank you for your leadership and your friendship over many, many years. I want to thank Pat Gallivan, who I've known since his sheriff days back when we were county officials together. Senator Gallivan, thank you for joining us. And Assemblymember Bill Conrad, you're a great leader. Thank you for your advocacy of your community in Albany. And Jonathan Rivera, fighting for the City of Buffalo. And Karen McMahon, thank you for your friendship as well. So, it does feel like a great homecoming to our State partners, our local officials, and to many from the community at large, the business community, labor, of course, and I want to thank all of you.

But two Tuesdays ago, I had an opportunity to present my $233 billion plan to New Yorkers. It's a statement of both fiscal responsibility, but also ambition. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. It's really a sweeping vision for New York that prioritizes nearly a $6 billion increase in State spending without raising income taxes. And that's important because I want to make sure that people who live here do not feel the tax burden is so high that they have to leave. And I want this to be a welcoming place for businesses. So, we manage both, investing in our people and our resources, but also saying we'll live within our means. And my number one priority, I've said this forever, is fighting crime, making sure that we keep New Yorkers safe.

And what's so exciting is that just the two years that I've been in office, we've really, because of our concentrated effort and strategic approach, and working with local law enforcement, we've made a real difference. We're back to the pre-pandemic levels of crime when people were not even talking about that as being a problem in our State. But I want to say, and our commissioners here as well, I want to thank the City of Buffalo for the incredible numbers that you're posting when it comes to crime. I talked about this when I was in Buffalo last October. In 2023, Buffalo had the lowest number of shootings and murders on record, not just compared to pre-pandemic levels. And so, that doesn't happen by accident, especially when those numbers are going up in cities across America. It happened because of our efforts to bring resources, but of course, the men and women, local law enforcement on the ground, and I'm always grateful to them. So, let's give them a round of applause for keeping our people safe.

The shootings were down 30 percent. You know, shootings are down 54 percent since I became Governor, and I've been watching it very closely. And as I mentioned, there's been a huge drop in murders. But we don't get complacent. We want to make sure that we're continuing to focus on safety because we want to make sure that the streets of our communities are safe for families and businesses and our seniors to walk down without being worried. We have to continue doing this. So, we're maintaining our levels of funding $347 million to continue to drive down gun violence, which I think is critically important.

But that's not the only kind of crime we have to go after. I was in New York City yesterday announcing 31 more offenses that will be added to hate crimes. Prosecutors need stronger tools. They've asked for this. The district attorneys have asked for this. And if anyone understands the insidiousness of what a hate crime looks and feels like, you only need to think of what happened in Buffalo on May 14th, 2022 – forever seared in our hearts and our minds. And we're still recovering from the horrific Tops shooting that has known, certainly the State over, but I believe the country understands what happened here. And I don't want any other community to have to wrestle with the pain and the horror of what this community had to go through because of someone who was so hate-filled and acted upon it and was radicalized online. And this is why we're so focused on what is happening online. I have more State police monitoring what's going there than ever before, so we can know in advance before something tragic happens. So, that's what I'm focused on.

We also added last year $25 million to help protect vulnerable sites, whether it's mosques or synagogues or yeshivas and cultural centers, where people feel that they can display their hate. And now we're talking about a way we can increase even more crimes to be included in those categories. I'm also adding $10 million to that pot, because this is nonnegotiable to me. This is nonnegotiable. We don't tolerate hate in the State of New York. And we will fight it. And we'll take those and make an example of those who dare cross that line and make people feel because of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs or where they come from or how they identify that they somehow are the others and not worthy of respect.

Well that's not the New York that I'm fighting for and that we all believe in. So stand with me against hate crime across the State of New York.

I also know that mental health is a huge driver of many of our societal problems. Most of my life, people didn't even use the phrase mental health. We didn't talk about it. No one acknowledged it. There was such a shame associated with saying we have a problem within a family or an individual. There was a stigma. Whether it's in law enforcement, even though law enforcement now has – their members have a 60 percent higher rate of suicide than the general public.

But these individuals, brave men and women of law enforcement, who see life at its worst, they see humanity in its most dire times. It takes an effect on people, it has an effect. And I'm putting money toward that as well, $13 million to help figure out ways to help our law enforcement members heal and be strong and not worry about the effect on their job if they need to seek treatment or assistance.

And I'm also increasing money for mental health overall. 45 percent increase in spending for mental health because it has been disinvested in for decades. And so that means we're spending $4.8 billion.

And how we spend this is intentional. Supportive housing units – we have people on our streets who desperately don't want to be there, but they can't take care of themselves. They need support. They need someone to say, “Welcome home. This is your home.”

But not just live here on your own and fend for yourself. We have supportive services right here where you live. That's what makes sense in our rural communities, in our suburban areas, in our downtown areas. Everybody needs this kind of help. And we have apartments like DePaul's Pan American Square Apartments in Buffalo, they'll be opening with 150 units of affordable housing, but also supportive housing. OMH, Office of Mental Health – 80 units right there to help the very people I'm talking about.

But also, to all the adults who think we've turned the page on the pandemic, have you talked to a kid lately? Because they've not recovered from this. It is really sad, and I don't think people could have foreseen this when we're dealing with the isolation and people just, communicating by Zoom.

The effect on our kids, and even grade school children, is still lingering. I remember visiting a grade school not long ago and I talked to the school psychologist. I said, “well what percentage? This is a grade school, lids don't know what's going on, they're fine, right?” She said 40 percent of the kids in that grade school need mental health services. And there's just not enough people in the school.

So I said, I want to make sure that every single school that will take one will have mental health clinics in the schools because parents don't have time to go make an appointment with somebody, a counselor, and leave their own jobs and get the kids out of school, it doesn't work.

Let's help these kids get the support they need now so we don't end up having to take care of them for a lifetime. And that's what we're focused on. And never before has anyone spoken about this the way we have. And I'm appreciative of all the partners I have in the Legislature who understand this as well.

We also, despite years of effort, we've not turned the corner on the scourge of the opioid epidemic. It's still real. It is still raw. There are still families losing loved ones. I remember always in Buffalo putting up the obituary page; for the longest time you saw such young faces. Used to always be the elderly, you’ve lived a good life – now they were young people, kids in their 20s, 30s. What's happened?

So we have to continue bringing the treatment, the prevention programs, the resources to communities that are devastated. So we're bringing $47 million for addiction programs across the State – not just across State, but that's $47 million for Western New York alone. $47 million for this community.

When we talk about residential treatment, crisis beds, and State operated addiction treatment centers. It's not just about the mental health, but it's also just how we're taking care of our kids. And we're continuing to make historic investments in our schools.

And since I became Governor, we've increased aid to Western New York schools – not by one or two or three percent – in two years, we've increased aid by 20 percent, by another half a billion dollars more than had been coming here before. And I want that to be understood. Because those who are saying I'm slashing schools, and I'm a product of public schools, my kids are products of public schools, I believe in public schools. And we will never starve our public schools, I guarantee it.

But let's look at the fact that when you increase funding by 20 percent in two years to make up for lost time, that you cannot sustain those levels of increases going forward. This is called making up, and then you continue to manage at normal levels that communities can afford, that the taxpayers can afford as well.

And that's something I'm proud of, the money we've invested here already. And we're bringing an additional $57 million to Western New York schools, including a $52 million increase in Foundation Aid. The total commitment to Western New York schools – and check the books of what we were doing just a few years ago – it's $3 billion for public education, and that's incredible.

And I also want to point out the fact that there are some schools that are not receiving what they had before, but I want you to check one thing, check out the surpluses. Check out the surpluses in those schools. Before anyone raises a hand and says, I object, our schools are doing well. $20 billion more Statewide in just a couple of years between the Federal and State money.

That's a lot of money going to our schools. I want money to go to our schools. I believe in our schools. I believe in our teachers. But we also have to say, we have to be responsible. So let's look at the size of the surpluses that are sitting there unspent while schools are still saying I need more. Let's just talk about that equation during this Legislative session, I think we'll all come to the right location, the right space in that.

But I also know that for a long time we educated our kids in grade schools in Western New York and then, guess what? Turn 18? “I'm leaving,” because there were no jobs.

Remember that? Remember that era, those of you? Oh, you all look too young to remember that, but I remember it. There's a reason I grew up with a big Irish Catholic family in Hamburg, and hi Randy Hoak, great to see you again. In Hamburg, all educated local schools, and I'm the only one left. There were no jobs at that time.

They all wanted to stay, nobody could. The steel plant shut down. Uncles lost their jobs. Luckily my dad had left before then, my grandpa had worked there. We know what that felt like. Where our greatest export was our kids. For the longest time. We made Austin, Texas and North Carolina. What they were was all New Yorkers, Buffalonians.

I'm here to declare that that exodus is over. We are now the place that people want to be. Young people want to live here. They want to – they understand the energy that's been created over the last few years and they're not leaving us. They want to stay. And they're being educated at great institutions like this flagship.

We are so blessed to have this, but we also need for those who want to get the skills to do things like build the stadium that I'm heading out to next. We have to get workforce training for them. So we're allocating $200 million to build four new workforce development programs across Upstate New York with a special focus on the I-90 corridor, meaning Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse are going to be recipients of this funding.

Let's build. Let's replicate what we saw at Northland. Northland is an incredible model. I've been there so many times. Right, Mayor? We go there all the time. It's a great success story right here. And I said, I want to do more of this. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

We're also making sure that we're training the workforce for the transportation and infrastructure opportunities we have here, an important part of my commitment to this region. We have to repair the roads. Unlike Florida, we have brutal winters and we have to keep repaving and filling the potholes year after year after year. $102 million will come to this region for those potholes and the highways and the bridges to restore them and make sure that they are prepared for the years to come.

But also an important part of our identity are the canals and the waterways. They were such an important part of our history transforming, 200 years ago, Buffalo from a sleepy little village to a bustling commerce center because of the Erie Canal. And it's got a great story behind it. As we approach this anniversary, I want to make sure that those communities along it are kept vibrant and ensure that these canals are strong and not in disrepair, that they're maintained for the next 200 years. So we're committing $50 million to the locks and the dams and mitigate the flooding and improve resilience there. Because if we don't invest now, this jewel, this part of our identity, will be gone forever. And we're able to recreate along the canal in great communities like Tonawanda's and Lockport. And I take my boat there; it's an extraordinary experience.

We also have incredible State parks here. I hope you all have a chance to visit them. And we're investing over $200 million in our State Parks. Because again, we had the first State Park in America, right here at Niagara Falls. And others have followed. But we also have an obligation as the stewards of these jewels to make sure that they're maintained. I was at Niagara Falls just a few weeks ago, cutting the ribbon on the $46 million Ralph C. Wilson Welcome Center. I don't know if you've been there yet. It is extraordinary. It opens up the vistas like never before. You just got to wonder, what were they thinking when they did the last visitor's center? It was kind of dark and drear, like, really? This is welcoming?Whole different experience. I encourage you to stop by there.

And we're not stopping there. We're investing over $7 million in State Parks, from Woodlawn State Park to the Genesee Valley Greenway, all the way down to Long Point State Park. And so, I also want to take a minute to note that we're thinking about our parks and how they're maintained. We have public servants who put themselves at risk to take care of those parks, and last week we lost a State Parks employee, a 32- year-old ­– Aaron Peters – who was killed on the job maintaining our parks. I just want to make sure that we don't forget those people that are out there, the unsung heroes who sometimes lose their lives, making sure that our State'sassets are kept so beautiful. And I want to make sure we keep him and his family in our prayers.

There's another issue that we have to deal with with a sense of urgency, and I raised this last year: housing. For the longest time in Western New York, one of our greatest assets was plentiful housing supply. Because remember, I told you, all the people who left, they left houses behind. There were plenty of houses, and they were affordable. Everybody loved it. When people came, they were like, you can buy a house for that much? That's amazing. They don't say that anymore. Now, that means that people have wanted to come and it drives prices up, I understand that, when there's more people than there is inventory. But it's now a crisis. The rising cost of housing is at the center of our entire affordability crisis, because the highest cost you're going to pay every month is either your rent check or your mortgage check, right? And that just keeps going up and affects so many New Yorkers. And we just don't have enough housing. We just don't have enough housing in the State of New York.

And it's easy to say that's a New York City problem and Downstate. It's not a Downstate problem anymore. It is there and it's also here. And we are, as we know, one of the hottest housing markets in the nation. I mean, we all felt proud of that, right? But that means if you're trying to buy a house, good luck. Good luck. Because the supply is down. And all those young people that are growing up here and going to our great schools and getting educated here, and now they have a job here, but they can't stay because there's no housing? That's what's happening Downstate. Let's not let that happen up here. We see the trends. We know what's happening. So let's be aware of it now. And people want to stay here. That's the good news. But one-third of Buffalo tenants spend 50 percent of their income on their rent. Now, think about that. One third of tenants spend half of their income on their rent. Over half the people spend 30 percent or more.

We have to worry about rural communities as well. You know, we're going to provide low income housing out in some of our rural areas that sometimes feel like they're forgotten, and help them have the stability of a home. So let's be conscious about this. And we put forth a five-year, $25 billion housing plan. We'll build and preserve over 100,000 homes, but think about that: our State needs 800,000 homes. For $25 billion, we get 100,000 homes. So it can't all be funded by the State. We need to break down the barriers that are in place for private developers to step up. And I'm not just talking about affordable housing, I'm talking about market rate housing as well. Just start building some more. And I also put forth $500 million in capital funds to develop housing, 15,000 units, on State-owned land. I'm looking everywhere. Why not? Why not? Let's give people the dignity of a home that they can afford. That's the difference.

But more housing needs to be built. And now we have a designation called Pro Housing Communities. What does that mean? For communities, and there's many, we're going to talk about this in a couple minutes, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New York Forward, other programs, extra sewer funding, there's all sorts of initiatives that we've now put into a pot of $650 million. That's an incentive for communities that have been resistant to growth, and some are, some are not. For them to realize if we want to apply for that pot of money, they need to be designated as a pro housing community. Which simply means, go to your Town Board. Here's the draft resolution - we have it for you. Commit that you'll build. Commit that you'll build a certain percentage every year. And then you'll have access to more resources. So that's what we're trying to do. Everybody said that we want more carrots than sticks. There's your carrots, everybody. Make sure you come and eat them, because we need the housing built. We need the housing built.

And also, where else are we investing? Health care. One of the biggest drivers of our Budget without a doubt--and we have to figure out ways to get that under control--but we can't forget investing in people. And programs like what we do at Roswell are known around the nation. So, we're investing $4 million so they can finance mobile cancer screening units.

Think about that, be able to take their talent and their professionals out into the community and try to get some of those early detection opportunities so we can save people's lives. And we're going to continue investing in health care overall.

We have $50 million going into a Statewide program to help transform the delivery of health care services. Because my friends, despite all the investments we're making, we're not getting the health outcomes. We are not the healthiest people in this country by any metric. We have a lot of work to do. I'm tackling infant and maternal mortality.

And the number of Black and Brown women who are dying in childbirth, and their babies are dying, is off the charts compared to the white population. We're leaning hard into this. We're saying no longer. This cannot be the way it is in the great State of New York. And so these are some of the investments we're making.

But there's still a lot of families in need. We're talking still about poverty in the most affluent nation in the history of this planet. Right now, in 2024, we have so many people living in poverty. Rural poverty, urban poverty. And here's the challenge. I surveyed the 10 zip codes in the State of New York that have the highest rates of poverty.

Ten zip codes, all of New York. Of the 10, four are in Rochester, three are in Buffalo, a couple in Syracuse, and one in New York City in the Bronx. So this idea that the poverty’s concentrated in New York City and everybody else is fine is wrong. We have a lot of poverty in our midst here, and it's time to talk about it and shed a light on it and say we can do more. And even in the zip code of 14201, three in four kids are living in poverty. So I'm investing $50 million, $50 million put aside to help in these zip codes, help the cities formulate policies, and we'll work with them, we'll partner with them because they want to get out of this as well. They're doing what they can, but let's give them a hand and we'll work with you.

We'll work with you and bring more resources to the table. So here I've talked about ways we can help people live better lives with good education, workforce development, mental health, health care, anti-poverty programs. This is all so people could live healthier, better lives today. But let's never take our eyes off the future and what the world will be like for our kids and our grandkids.

And some of us have new grandkids, right Senator Gallivan? It's a joyful time, but it definitely changes your perspective. It truly does. It takes you out of the today and into the tomorrow. And we have to talk about what opportunities will be there for these kids. And never lose sight of the fact that in Western New York, it's in our DNA to be risk takers, to be innovators, to be the dreamers.

And we always see the light on the horizon. This is the City of Lights. Buffalo, don't forget, the first, the world's first electrified city. 1896. At a time when every other city had horse-drawn carriages and buggies, we had Electric Street Railway, home of the first electric cars. Ask Jim Sandoro about that when you get over to the Pierce Arrow Museum. Imagine if we'd stayed with electric cars that were invented in Buffalo back in the early 1900s, what the planet would be like today? I won't get into John Rockefeller and Standard Oil and all that. I won't get into the whole history of how that changed, but there was a path.

And even when President McKinley – some refer to the McKinley Curse, I choose not to – but 1901 he was taken to the hospital in an electric-powered ambulance. That's where we were. We're the ones who came up with this, not anywhere else. It didn't come out of Silicon Valley back then, it came out of Buffalo.

That's where the ideas came from, the brilliance. I mean, think about it, the pacemaker keeping people alive all over the world. Who turned on your windshield wipers today coming to work? They were invented in Buffalo. Chicken wings. We gave the world chicken wings! We are a cradle of innovation, right? Even at a bar, even at an Anchor Bar, we're innovators. The beer at our hand, we're even better innovators.

I'm making an announcement this morning that is only going to add to the momentum. The energy that has always been within us, and we just have to liberate it. I'm going to make an announcement that someday people here will look back and say I was there.

I was there when the future came right before our very eyes. In my State of the State, I spoke about the Empire AI Consortium. Empire AI Consortium, Artificial Intelligence. We'll be the first in the nation to bring together top academic institutions. The private sector and government, as well as philanthropy, and make New York State the home of the technology of the future.

And I said, whoever dominates the AI industry dominates the next era of human history. AI can help us diagnose and cure cancer, advance warnings of dangerous storms, and help us in our just everyday lives. Uncover the problems of stubborn racial and economic disparities that plague our communities. It is going to be the single most consequential, technological and commercial advancement since the invention of the internet.

Other States want to be the home to the next generation of supercomputers needed to power AI's progress. Everybody's talking about it. China's talking – everybody wants to be that. And the global AI market is already valued at $150 billion projected to reach $1.3 trillion in just a few years.

This initiative, which is being backed with $275 million of State money, including $25 million from SUNY, as well as already, already, just since we've announced this, $125 million from private partners, will ensure that New York State is the place we can put this kind of computing power in the hands of students and professors and the geniuses who are ready to win this race.

And I'm thinking about young people like Holliday Sims, who's here with us today. Holliday, stand up. There you go. A senior at the University of Buffalo who conducted AI research into how it can improve the child welfare program and system. And I want to thank you. We talked about you in our State of the State address. As I said, we want to make sure that New York State is the capital of AI development and empower young people like Holiday to do this.

But I need a home for this. I need a home for this supercomputer that'll power the innovation all over our State. And I'm proud to announce that the home will be right here at SUNY Buffalo!

There you go. This is exciting. Exciting day. Alright, it's not a Super Bowl, but it's the best I could do this week, okay? The center will be a global leader and usher in unlimited possibilities and a future for this area that it never could have foreseen. It's already happening here. We're already starting.

It's not just with this supercomputer. I'm also proud to announce that Tesla is investing $500 million to build their next supercomputer right here in Buffalo. How about that? Two supercomputers for one community. And this is going to continue. This cycle of possibility. I mean, people think about Silicon Valley.

A few businesses went there in the 60s. They exploded in the 80s. It took two decades. But all of a sudden, they became known as the place people wanted to go. The young, brilliant minds all wanted to go to Silicon Valley and be the next innovator. Come up with the next great thing, the great technologies.

That place, my friends, is now New York State. And that computer will be housed here, but it'll power innovation ideas and people all over the State of New York. This is where the future's beginning. And we're planting those seeds right here. And I'm so excited about how we know how to harness power. All the way from Niagara Falls, hydroelectric power transformed our State and our nation.

We're doing it here today. This has always been a region that punches above its weight. And the brilliant people that are here, who believe in this area, who never gave up on this area, the businesses who stayed, the families who stayed, always hoping for a better day. My friend, those days are here. They finally arrive.

And they're long overdue. Thank you very much for your participation here today. Thank you for listening. And onward and upward to great things for New York State and the great city of Western New York.

Now, one thing I also want to talk about as I conclude my remarks on the Budget. There are so many great communities that are doing so much. And I want to continue investing in our communities. And that's where the DRI and the New York Forward Initiative comes into play. I'm real excited. I love this program.

It's $10 million, in one shot, going to the city of, to the City of Tonawanda, for $10 million.

Now, what I would say is, when I was on the town board of Hamburg for fourteen years, trying to scrape together a few dollars from this grant, and that grant, and this grant, and maybe someday over time it'll all add up, but it's, it's, I know how hard it is. And to have a program where a community comes together and the residents and the businesses and the elected officials all band together and put forth a vision and say, we can do better.

If we had $10 million, we could transform our streetscapes and make connections to the waterfronts and build affordable housing and work on the facades and the signage and just bring back the luster to downtowns that had lost it over time. It's an incredible program, so I'm really, really proud of the city of Tonawanda for what they're doing and their leadership in this.

And Tonawanda, the word comes from a Tuscarora word for confluent stream because it's at the intersection of three waterways, the Erie Canal, the Niagara River, and Ellicott Creek. And what great potential it's had. And just as the waters come together, so will our businesses in a cohesive way and transform our downtown into one that is incredibly vibrant.

So, Tonawanda is ready to take the next step. They're excited. I want to congratulate Mayor John White for his work and his team's work on this. Let's give them a round of applause. But I also know, having represented much smaller communities, that people said, well, we're not big enough. You know, we don't have enough to spend $10 million on.

We're a little intersection, we're just a little town, or a little community, a little hamlet. And I said, all right, we'll have a new program. We'll call it New York Forward. So we have a program similar to DRI, but it's $4.5 million available for our smaller communities. And I'm really proud to announce that the village of Gowanda and the hamlet of West Falls are the winners today. Let's give them a round of applause.

These communities are ready to reposition themselves. Welcoming for their residents, their tourists, businesses, new families looking to call home. So congratulations to Mayor David Smith and Town Supervisors Charles Snyder. Let's have them stand up and receive a round of applause.

So, the Budget, DRI, it is a great day. It is a great day here in Western New York. And I want to thank all of you for being such a great audience and making me feel so welcome every time I step foot in Western New York. Thank you. Let's bring up some of our winners.

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