FY 2019 Executive Budget Protects Taxpayers from Washington's Federal Assault
Advances Plan to Create Road, Transit & Economic Development Hub in the Town of Woodbury
Governor Also Highlights Plan to Modernize Stewart Airport
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Mid-Hudson Valley regional highlights of the FY 2019 Executive Budget--advancing the state's efforts to deliver on the promise of progressive government by protecting taxpayers against devastating federal action, strengthening the middle class, cutting taxes and making smart investments in the Mid-Hudson Valley's future. For the eighth consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth below two percent. More information is available here.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. It's my pleasure to be back at Marist. The President's been here for a couple of years, but it's my first time with him, so congratulations to the new President. He was born in New Jersey, but we don't control where we're born so that was OK. Cornell-trained as an attorney, state-affiliated school so that's a good sign. You mentioned my father, sitting next to you. First thing about my father and speaking, who I believe, I'm not objective, but was one of the best ever. He was always prepared. What he would do is he would be sitting next to someone before he went and he would say "so what do you think I should talk about?" And they would say whatever suggestions they had, but he knew exactly what he was going to say. That was a way to make you feel involved and make you think it was off the cuff, but it was never off the cuff. He had a totally different philosophy about speaking. His great expression was, it doesn't matter what the audience wants to hear, it's what you want to say. Which was very atypical for a politician. I've worked with a lot of politicians. Normally they're figuring out how do they ingratiate themselves to the audience. What do they want to hear? He didn't really care what you wanted to hear. He wanted to tell you what he thought you needed to know. And that's what made him special in so many ways.
So let's give the new president another round of applause.
But Marist is a great institution. I had the Marist brothers in high school, archbishop Malloy in Queens. And back then you had Marist brothers, and they were tough, the Marist brothers. I have the scars to prove it. I then went to Fordham, and I had the Jesuits. So I was confused for many years between the Marists and the Jesuits. I'm just now working out the conflicts. Red Foxes, I think it's fair to say were more competitive than the Rams. And they are doing great. And Marist then, we have Lee Miringoff here, Marist did something which was really revolutionary and groundbreaking. Marist was like the first college to go into the polling business, polling activity. And Lee Miringoff did it way back when. And it was a great vehicle for public discourse and notoriety for the school. It worked so well that now many, many colleges have copied the model because they want notoriety for their school. So many colleges are doing it. Online colleges are doing it, I don't know how but they're doing it. That college that drives around in the van that you see on TV, they're doing it.
But as the competition went up they had to get more and more creative, because they had to get the press coverage. So they come up with these great questions now, that really are challenging. One of the polls, ran for Governor, me versus my brother Chris Cuomo, I beat him 80-20, so that was a great, great poll. Same poll ran my mother against me and my brother Chris. She won 90 percent, five percent for me, five percent for Chris. But my 5 percent was a definitely support so I still beat Chris which was good. One poll, voters rejected the concept of climate change, rejected the concept of extreme weather, but 65 percent said that mother nature has had a nervous breakdown. And that was their conclusion. And then there was a poll that found that the most known school, most known college in the country, Marist University, second Harvard, third Yale. So that's something that's going right.
But that was mixed news for Mr. Miringoff, because they also asked a question about Mr. Miringoff. 87 percent name recognition. That was the good news. 70 percent thought he was a really, really long-term student who hadn't graduated yet. So that was not great. But what Marist did was really revolutionary. And you mentioned my father. The one poll that was actually accurate in saying that Mario Cuomo was going to win in what was an impossible race against Ed Koch, was Mr. Miringoff and the Marist poll. And he went with that poll, even though it was opposite every poll that was published. Many polls that are published, not to be cynical, but have an agenda behind them. And many papers are publishing polls, and he stood up, and his poll was exactly Right. Let's give Lee Miringoff a round of applause.
As you heard from the President, I want to talk to you about the state budget today. But the budget really isn't a budget. It's really an action plan for the state, for the year. Gives you a snapshot of where we are, what we're doing overall, and probably more importantly what we're doing in your region. Because we tend to talk about the state as a whole, like it is just one economy, one population, it's not. This is one of the really diverse states. And we call it 10 different regions but every region has its own personality, has its own needs, and really what we try to work on are custom-designed approaches for every region in the state.
We have a number of priorities that we start with. We start with education, and then topical issues, fighting sexual harassment, the environment, a democracy agenda, criminal justice reform. I want to talk to you about the federal tax increase, and the effect on New York. And then how do you grow the economy, because the economy is the engine that pulls the train.
Investing in education, we invest more in education than any state in the nation on a pupil by pupil cost. And I am proud of that. They're our children, they're our future, that's what every politician says in every speech. We put our money where our mouth is and we did it again this year even though it's a tough budget. And we're up to $26 billion from $25 billion.
Second, long term, what state wins? What state attracts jobs and people? The most educated workforce wins. When we're now pitching business, one of the first questions, do you have the educated workforce? Do you have the skilled workforce? And more and more, that is true. Next 10 years, they estimate over 50 percent of the jobs are going to require a college education. Let's get ahead of it. At one time we said as a country and as a society, everybody should have a high school education. And we'll offer free high school education. Why? Because it advances our workforce. The next step is we should have free college education. Nobody should be denied a college education because they can't afford it.
We have a great SUNY system, we're working in that direction, and now this year we go to a free SUNY education for families making up to $110,000. 110,000 sounds like a lot of money, but if you have two children, and you're spending $30,000 per child, $110,000 is not a lot of money. We call it the Excelsior Scholarship Program, other states are now calling and expressing interest, but I think this is the direction for the future. It is also going to enhance attendance at SUNY schools, and we have a number of them in the Hudson Valley as you know.
We also have on the agenda that New York historically and today has always been ahead of the curve. Has always been the nation's leader. You look back at the great social reform movements, they all happened in New York. Environmental rights movement started right here, Hudson River and Storm King, worker's rights movement started at the Shirtwaist Triangle Factory fire. Women's rights started at Seneca Falls, civil rights started with the NAACP birth in New York, gay rights started at stonewall, they all started here. And that's not just our history, that's our legacy and one that we have to honor. You have when you look back at the recent actions we've taken, we've been ahead of the curve. We passed marriage equality four years before the Supreme Court said it was the law of the land. We went to that legislature and said this is not a religious cultural issue. If you don't believe in marriage between gay people, don't marry a gay person. That's your right. But, the law says you have no right to discriminate and we were discriminating against LGBTQ members of the society and we were four years before the Supreme Court and I believe New York changed the national dialogue. New York is not just another state, he says with the arrogance of a New Yorker, when you do something in New York, it resonates around the rest of the country and when we passed marriage equality they took that microphone and they went to the president, they went to the vice president, they went to every governor and said, "what would you do?" And we changed the whole dialogue.
Fifteen-dollar minimum wage, you cannot live on $18,000 a year and raise a family in the state of New York. We moved it to $15 over time. Other states are now following us. First state to do a comprehensive paid family leave program. We're leading the way in renewable energy, we have the most progress MWBE program in the county, we passed the SAFE Act after the Sandy Hook massacre because we said enough is enough. With Florida, frankly we're right back where we were with Sandy Hook. The only difference is 1,600 more people have died since Sandy Hook, believe it or not. Since Columbine in 1999, there have been 200 school shootings, 25 mass school shootings and you still have these Washington politicians who refuse to stand up and do the right thing because they're afraid of the consequence. You now have high school students, who are in my opinion showing more leadership than the leaders in Washington. But, we were ahead of the pack on that issue also.
The next issue for us to focus on this year is the sexual harassment against women. This has been a national disgrace and I have such respect for the women who came forward and such respect for the endurance they had to live with what they went through. It's all across society. It's every industry, I think that has been demonstrated. Now is the time that you do something about it. When a problem is exposing government's responsibility is then time to address it. Now, theoretically, the federal government is supposed to step in and say we're going to show leadership and going to do something. I don't see the federal government stepping in anywhere on sexual harassment except denying it. In light of the federal inaction, let New York set the standard, a national standard for anti-sexual harassment policies and let us lead the way. We've laid on out the legislative agenda. It starts with no taxpayer funds being used to pay for any officials' liability related to sexual harassment. It's their problem, let them handle it. No secret non-disclosure agreements; you can secret the women's name but not the person who is paying the fine. Acquire companies that do business with the state to disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications they had and non-disclosure agreements that they signed just as an incentive to let them know that we're watching. Make sure the state has jurisdiction for the investigation and then come up with one strict policy that applies to every government in the state of New York. No more 8,000 governments, each one designs their one sexual harassment policy. One strict policy for the entire, period. We do that and we set that standard and you'll see private sector companies adopting the government standard. Frankly, just to protect themselves. But someone has to go first and someone has to set the bar and that should be New York's role and I want to do that this year. I think we can make real progress because this is a void of leadership and it's what New York does best.
Another pressing issue for us is the protection of the environment. It's another issue where the federal government is looking the other way. It's an issue where New York state should be aggressive. You know better than anyone in the Hudson Valley that the greatest asset you have are the natural resources. This is one of the most beautiful locations not just in the state but in the country. It attracted generations of painters and architects, et cetera, to apply its natural beauty. It's something that we want to preserve and protect and we did that when we didn't allow fracking in 2014, which the more time goes on, I think the more it says it was the right decision. The next problem is protecting our waters. We have a problem around the state with algae blooms, but it's even more challenging because it's a little different in each part of the state and its even different from lake to lake. Harmful algae blooms, many of which are toxic, killing fish, so there's no recreational activity. Some are so toxic that if an animal swims in the water, dog goes swimming in the water it could actually be a real health problem for the animal and many of the lakes are water supplies. If we have to get into filtering our water supplies, that's a multibillion dollar problem and that's something we want to avoid. This year, we want to do a study on each of the effected lakes. Come up with a strategy on how to deal with that lake and actually implement it this year. We have four lakes that were focused on in this region. We're going to have a summit to talk about each lake, talk about the problems in each lake. What's causing the blooms and how do we end it and how do we end it now. GE on the Hudson, this has been going on for decades, they supposedly did a cleanup. EPA is going to make a decision, we don't believe the cleanup is sufficient and we're going to sue the EPA if they give GE the green light to leave because they're not leaving until the Hudson is cleaned up.
Another issue we want to address is protecting our democracy. It is too hard to vote in this state, period. I have two daughters who are moving back to this state who were away at college. I'm trying to help them get registered to vote. First of all, you have to register to vote like seven years before the election, it's ridiculous. Why is it only one day to vote? So many states have early voting, why are you trying to make it hard for people to vote? Make it easy for people to vote. Make it easy for them to register, give them a number of days to show up to vote. You have all this cynicism, all this anger, let them express their voice, let them participate, if you're afraid of letting people participate in an election then we have a real problem. Then their cynicism is justified unless we update they update New York's voting reform laws. Second, this Russia hacking problem is real and I don't believe Washington is going to do anything on it because it's controversial. Why? Because the vehicle now are the high tech social internet companies and there is right now no disclosure of political advertising on those platforms which is bizarre to begin with. If you run a TV ad, it has to say who paid for the TV ad. If I sent a piece of mail to your home, it has to say who paid for the piece of mail.
But if I go on Facebook, it doesn't have to say anything. That's wrong especially with the social media platforms getting more and more prevalent. We want to extend the same disclosure laws that apply to TV, radio, print, etc. to social media platforms. Who paid for it and then you have the opportunity to find out if they're real or they're fraud or they're a foreign company and you can actually enforce the laws. Let's do here in New York. The social media companies are not happy about it. They are very powerful. How can you be against disclosing the payment for the ad in a political discourse when we do it in every venue? And that's the law that we should pass this year.
Criminal justice reform, the heart of our democracy. Speedy trial. You're innocent until proven guilty. Our system has it upside down. You have people in jails for years awaiting trial. Three, four, five, six years. Convicted of nothing. Rikers Island, worst jail in the state. 75 percent of the people in Rikers have been convicted of nothing. They're waiting for their trial. Oh we have speedy trial. Three, four, five, six years waiting for trial. Why are they there? Because they can't make bail. Why can't they make bail? Because they're poor. Why is our bail system based on money? Lady Justice is blindfolded. She's holding a scale. If a judge believes a person should be held, the judge should hold them, whether they're rich or they're poor. And if a person believes they should be released on their own recognizance then he or she should release them whether they're rich or poor. It shouldn't be about how much money they have. Let's fix the bail system. Let's honor the speedy trial provision in the constitution. And let's let all New Yorkers believe the criminal justice system is fair, because that's the basis of all of it. And if we get to a point where people believe the criminal justice system is discriminatory or treats people of wealth one way, then you're going to have a real problem in this state and this country.
We also this year need to defend against federal tax increase. And this is probably the most important economic issue that we've faced. Now regardless of what you think about the federal tax policy, because this gets political. It's passed by a Republican administration. The President championed it. Democrats voted against it. Regardless of what you think, you like it, you don't like it, you're in between. It's terrible for New York. If you put your New York hat on, it is terrible. I happen to think it's terrible in general, because it's not what they said it was. They said it was a cut to the middle class but 80 percent of the benefits go to the wealthiest 1 percent. And the whole theory is we're going to give the corporations a tax cut. 40 percent windfall tax cut that they weren't even expecting, and we believe they may give it to the workers in terms of higher wages.
That's a nice belief. I believe there's a really a Santa Claus. I believe that. And that's also a nice belief. But the corporation may give it in higher wages or maybe they put in their pocket or maybe they buy back stock or maybe they buy a house in France. If you actually wanted the money to go to the individual worker and higher wages, you know what you would have done? You would have said it in the law, which we're very good at doing. We're going to give you 40 percent tax break, 50 percent has to go to higher wages, but 50 percent has to go to new jobs. That's what you would have done. So put that aside. You love it. You hate it. As a New Yorker, it's devastating, because what they did to finance the tax cut, it's oxymoronic but you have to pay for tax cuts because they're reducing revenue. One of the ways they paid for the tax cut is they put the 12 states that have something called state and local deductions and they eliminated them. Meaning you now pay state income tax and property tax. So you come home with $100. You pay $4 to the state. You pay $6 in property taxes. We now have $90. The federal government then taxed you on the $90. What this bill says is we're not going to tax you on the 90. We're going to tax you on $100. And you say well hold on a second. I gave 6 to the county. I gave 4 to the state. I pay $10 in taxes. They're saying they're going to tax you for the taxes you paid.
First double taxation in the history of the nation. When Lincoln passed the first income tax law, he said the federal tax shall go after the state and local taxes. Remember it's the states that created the federal government, not the other way around. This is the first double taxation. It hits 12 states, New York hardest of all. Why? Because we have the highest property taxes in the country. And we're a high tax state. New York, California, New Jersey, 12 states. All coincidentally Democratic states. All coincidentally states that Trump lost. And these states represent 40 percent of the GDP. What this tax cut does is it takes the money from those 12 states and it uses it to finance the tax cut in the other 38. The other thing this bill does is it puts us at a structural disadvantage going forward ad infinitum because every other state is just getting the tax cut. We're getting the tax cut and the loss of deduction. The loss of the deduction means your property taxes just went up 25 percent. We've been killing ourselves to bring them down. This raises them 25 percent overnight and it literally uses New York and California as the two main piggy banks to avoid the federal increase we would need to restructure our tax code. The attack is designed as an attack on the design of our tax code. We would have to change from an income tax system to a payroll tax system, which would be revenue neutral but it would be a major administrative change.
Instead of taxing the individual receipts to avoid the federal increase, we would need to restructure our tax code because the attack is designed on the attack on the design of our tax code. We would have to change from an income tax system to a payroll tax system, which would be revenue neutral but it would be a major administrative change. Instead of taxing the income the individual receives, tax the salary the employer pays because that is still deductible. To help local governments, we could set up charitable corporations and instead of paying property taxes you make a contribution to a local charitable entity that funds schools and you would get a charitable deduction but these are all ways to dodge the missile that Washington has launched at us. If we do nothing you get a 25 percent tax increase. The legislature says oh this is complicated. Yeah I know it's complicated. So do nothing and then sign a letter that your taxes went up 25 percent to every person in the state because that's exactly what would happen.
We are pursuing three avenues. Number one, as I mentioned to change the state tax code to avoid it. Number two, we are suing the federal government because I believe it's unconstitutional and we have other states doing it with us. And I do believe it's political retaliation. Ironically the idea came from the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Senate has no Republican member in any of these states. So there is virtually no political cost to doing it. But that's where it started. This same idea was floated under Ronald Reagan. The same idea, and it was shot down. We had at that time a Republican Senator, Alphonse D'Amato. Good Republican Senators who were against it. Part of the polarization of the country is now you have a Republican Senate. They see this as a Democratic state. There's no Republican senator. There's no political cost. Maybe there's no political cost but there's a hell of an economic cost and a moral cost and an ethical cost. The third option is to actually repeal the law and that's what we're going to have to get done and that's what we're working toward. We started a tax fairness campaign. We want people to sign up. This is not Democrat versus Republican. If you are a democrat your taxes go up, if you're a republican your taxes go up. If you're a short person your taxes go up, if you're a tall person your taxes go up. Everybody's taxes, this is the great equalizer. There is, it's a great unifier. There are no political distinctions here. There's a bipartisan bill by Congressman King who is a republican from Long Island and Congresswoman Lowey to repeal this bill. And it's bipartisan because it hurts everyone. And we like your support on that. It's one where we have to unify. And the engine that pulls the train is the economy. And we have a lot of work to do. We've made a lot of progress. New York had a reputation as being hostile to business. I call it the hangover New York arrogance. For many years, we just assumed businesses had to stay here.
Why? Because we were New York, and where else could you go? You had to be in New York, everybody had to be in New York. And that was our attitude. And we could raise taxes and we could raise regulations, you had no choice, you were captive in New York because we were the capital of the world. What happened is people looked at a map and when you look at a map you look to the west of New York and you see other shapes on the map. Squares, rectangles, those are called other states. And if you force people, they can actually go to one of those other shapes. They've been proven to be habitable and we forced people and they moved. But we've learned and we adjusted. One of the top complains was well the high taxes in New York. Why do we have high taxes in New York? That's the $64 thousand question. The answer is because New York spent a lot of money. Why am I putting on weight? Because I am eating like a horse, that's why I'm putting on weight. It's a simple equation. If you take in more calories than you burn, you will put on weight. New York spent a lot of money. And by the way, we did it for fifty years. This was not a quick problem. Governor Nelson Rockefeller, 16-year Governor, average spending 11 percent more every year. Governor Hugh Carey, 8 years, average spending 7.9 percent. Mario Cuomo, God rest his soul, 12 years, average spending 6.9 percent. George Pataki, 12 years, average spending 5.2 percent. Keep in mind this is fifty years over which the inflation rate is four percent. Which means every year you're spending above the inflation rate. Which means you're dipping further and further into the pocket of the taxpayer.
This was not an illusion that people felt you were raising taxes. It was a realty. Taxes are going up higher than their home value. Higher than their income. Higher than their investment portfolio. For fifty years. What was the answer? You have to spend less. You have to reduce the calories. Well that's hard. Well if you don't, you're going to drop dead of an economic heart attack. Ok, I'll reduce the number of calories I intake. That's what we set out to do. Over seven years, our spending increase has been 1.4 percent. 1.4 percent. Now, how can that be? I know what you think. Oh, you're a democrat, you democrats like to spend money, it's the republicans who like to save money. That was a stereotypical, unkind thought that you just had. And it's not factually accurate. There are democrats who can count. There are. And fiscal discipline is not the province of any one party. As a matter of fact, when you look, Nelson Rockefeller, republican, George Pataki, 5.2 percent, republican. Conservative. I love now teasing my colleagues in the legislature who were there. During the Pataki years—they did spending increases 10 percent, 7 percent, 6 percent. They all voted for those budgets. Now they want to complain about high taxes. You spent the money, not me. I never sent a budget up above 2 percent. And we actually came in at 1.4 percent. 7 on time budgets, first time we've done that in fifty years on a bipartisan basis. When you spend less, you can tax less. Everybody's tax rate today is lower than it was 7 years ago. Everybody's tax rate today is lower than it was 7 years ago. We have the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947. Manufacturers tax since 1917. Lowest corporate rate since 1968. And we want to cut taxes again this year with a real middle class tax cut that goes to the middle class $40,000 to $150,000 we drop it from 6.4 to 5.5. $150,000 to $300,000, which is sort of an expansive middle class, but, from 6.6 down to 6 percent. So another tax cut but really for the middle class. Also we have to reduce our local property taxes. We have the highest property taxes in the United States of America. Literally. Westchester, Nassau in absolute dollars. But as a percentage of home value, the highest in upstate New York. And that's why this federal tax provision reducing, eliminating the deductibility on property taxes is such a killer. Property tax is two and a half times the state income tax. FDR used to go crazy about this. He could be a little prickly, FDR. Shouldn't say that near his home, but when people complain about taxes, he would go on a tirade. And he would say they are not state taxes. Don't call them state taxes. Our state income tax is basically in the middle nationally. It's the property taxes that you add to the state tax that make us astronomical. But the property taxes are out of control. As you saw the states spending, during that same period of time, local property taxes were going up 6, 7, and 8 percent. Year after year. So you had a double whammy. You had the state increase and then you had the property tax.
We came in and said 2 percent tax cap for the counties. By the way, the all screamed, they call cried, they threw things at me. They said bad things about me and my family, there's no way we can do it. They all did. Nobody died, the world didn't stop spinning. Government can actually spend less money, it really can. And there at the 2 percent tax cap, I was under the 2 percent tax cap at 1.4 percent so they can't cry to me. But it's still not enough. We have to do more. We have to be more aggressive about shared services. We have 10 thousand local governments in this state. Everybody can't have their own offices and their own trucks and their own garage and their own maintenance system and their own health insurance. We have to find ways to share services and get those numbers down, especially when they're not deductible anymore. We have to continue to invest in economic development and infrastructure. The business environment today is unlike anything I've ever seen. Every business is getting courted by every state. Literally a state will call up one of our big businesses and say come to my state, I'll give you this abatement, you won't pay taxes for the next 100 years, I'll take your wife to dinner. I mean the solicitations are unbelievable. We have to be competitive. And Albany was not helpful to the Hudson Valley and to upstate for many, many years. Why? Because the legislature, as Sue can tell you, is predominately from New York City and Long Island. By the numbers that's where they come from. And the instinct of the legislature is to do good things for their district. They care about the whole state, but a legislature is representing from the district. And two-thirds of the legislature is from New York City and Long Island. So everything was going down to New York City and Long Island. Ironically, that's the last place we needed it. Because it was Upstate and the Hudson Valley that were lagging economically and that's where we needed help. We did a 180. We've invested over 36 billion dollars in upstate New York and the Hudson Valley. We've invested more in the upstate and Hudson valley than any administration in the history of the state of New York and I am damn proud of it.
We have major projects going on all across upstate New York that are gonna modernize the infrastructure, make those economies competitive, new airports in Rochester, Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Ithaca, new train stations, major economic development projects to really get the economy going. It is working. It's working on the numbers. This state now has 8 million jobs, the highest number of private sector jobs in the history of the state of New York period. 8 million jobs. 73,000 new jobs in the Hudson Valley. When we started, we had a 7.3percent unemployment rate, we now have a 4.3percent unemployment rate and unemployment is coming down all across the state. In the old days, you'd see just New York City doing well and everywhere else was suffering. Now you see a more uniform picture of success because we've been treating Upstate with the help they need.
We have regional economic development councils, which are a much different way of doing economic development. You don't have an Albany bureaucrat picking a project. We go to the regions and we say put the business community in the room with the academic community and come up with a real business plan. It's working. Dennis Murray, who is not hear today so I'll say something nice about him, we asked him to be the co-chair of the regional economic development council. I told him, don't worry, no more than one-year, that was seven years ago and he has done a really great, great job. We brought 6.8-billion-dollar investment to the Hudson Valley and it is amazing the growth we are seeing. Legoland 1300, Regeneron is growing and were going to have an exciting announcement there, Amy's Kitchen over 600 jobs, Raymour & Flanigan 300 jobs, Pratt and Whitney 100 jobs, USIA 149 jobs, Irving Electric Power, the Center for Discovery, Maurice Hinchey God rest his soul Interpretive Center, Resorts World Catskills that they've talking about for 40 years, bringing casino gaming back in that part of the state and they opened an amazing facility, all private money, 1500 jobs.
And we are looking down the road to attract the next generation, the millennials have a different theory and vision for their life than my generation. They want downtown areas. They want walkable communities. They want the density, the vibrancy, their not transportation oriented in terms of vehicles, they don't want to get into a car and drive 40 minutes to come to work. They want to be there. We have magnificent downtown that suffered for decades when people were doing the exact opposite, they were moving out (inaudible) circles of development. The young people want to be in. They want to be able to walk down the block to a restaurant, they want to be able to walk down the block the other direction to their job, they want to be able to get on a train. And we have the downtowns, we have to revitalize them and that's exactly what we're doing with Middletown, with Kingston, who won a very, very tough competition to have a comprehensive redevelopment and let's give them a round of applause.
And it's real, I told Mayor Noble this the other day, I have a young lady I know who is in California, she's an artist, bonafide artist. I don't want to guess the age but since you don't know the name 30ish and she's a great artist and I talked to her the other day and she says I just bought an old church in downtown Kingston. I said what. She said I bought an old church in downtown Kingston and I'm moving to downtown Kingston. I said from California you're moving to an old church, you're gonna rebuild it in downtown Kingston. Yes, a galley, and an apartment, a loft, and a coffee shop over here. I said why downtown Kingston? Oh it's cool. It's cool, that's all she said. It's that vibrancy, that energy and that's what we have to build on.
This budget we have a lot more work for the Hudson Valley. Transportation infrastructure drives economic development. It always has. We know that modernizing our airports are long overdue. It's not just in New York in this nation. Do you remember the last time this nation built a new airport? Over 20 years ago, the Denver Airport. You fly into any other airport across the world and then you fly into New York and you think we're a third world nation. We're rebuilding LaGuardia. We're rebuilding JFK. We are also redeveloping our regional airports. Stewart Airport, when we got the Norwegian carrier, the number of passengers has soared 60 percent. We're going to invest another $37 million dollars to modernize and expand that regional airport because I think there is a lot of growth for that airport to drive the economy here. You shouldn't have to fly to New York City or ship goods to New York City, to get them to the Hudson Valley. Let's use Stewart.
Woodbury Commons is a great, great magnet towards that attraction. I would have never guessed it. It is also one of the really impossible traffic situations in the world. Whenever my daughters ask me to take them there I come up with any excuse not to have to sit through that traffic. But it's 13 million visitors a year. We're going to redo the transportation hub with a $150 million plan that makes it a full comprehensive transportation hub that reduces traffic. We are doing cashless tolling on the Thruway the way we have in downstate bridges to accelerate commutes. We are putting a Metro North Station at Woodbury Commons that way you don't have to drive, you can take the train.
The infrastructure for tomorrow in my opinion is broadband. People want broadband or they don't go. I don't care what the business is, I don't care if it's a hotel, a conference center, people demand broadband. We are going to be the first state in the United States to have 100 percent broadband all across the state and we're going to have it all across the Hudson Valley by the end of this year.
Tourism is a great economic generator. All across the state but especially for the Hudson Valley. It's one of the great investments we make. We invested $200 million dollars in tourism and tourism spent has gone up $18 billion dollars with that $200 million investment, reinvigorating I Love NY. In the Hudson Valley, direct spending from tourism is over $4.3 billion dollars with a B. 23 Million visitors and its obvious, we just don't ever market it. Look, 50 million tourists come to New York City every year. 50 Million. Just say to the 50 million that you can come and see New York City and this great urban area and by the way in an hour and a half you can be in the Hudson Valley and see what inspired generations of painters, sculptors, etc. That's what we've been doing and it's working. 67,000 jobs.
Olana, which, you want to talk about breathtaking and is a tourism destination in and of itself, is being enhanced. And this Hudson River Skywalk that connects Olana to Thomas Cole House - I think this is going to have the same kind of attraction that the Walkway has. I mean, this is a beautiful part of the Hudson and between the Thomas Cole House and Olana and Walkway over the Hudson—I mean, how else would you want to spend the day, right? And we're going to finish that this year, so I'm excited about that.
We invested $8 million in the Belleayre to put in a real gondola. We're investing another $10 million. There is no reason why anyone from New York City should go skiing in Vermont, with all due respect to Vermont. They should stay right here in New York because we have ski resorts that can rival any. Complementing tourism is our food and beverage industry which we have developed into a great market. Microbreweries, craft breweries—all breweries up 148percent. We're going to be funding a joint venture between the CIA and a sake manufacturing company, creating 32 new jobs but more importantly great sake. Can you imagine, the Culinary Institute of America sake? That's going to be special. We have an Indian food manufacturing company that's coming in with 150 new jobs.
So, a lot of great progress, a lot has happened, and I think the overall picture is we have fixed the problems. We are in the process of making more progress. But the fundamental issues we faced we reversed. Our taxes were going up, our jobs were going down, unemployment was going up, and upstate investment was abandoned by all. That is a death warrant and that's the death spiral we were in for decades, literally. Every arrow has changed. Our taxes are going down, our jobs are going up, unemployment down, and Upstate and the Hudson Valley have a partner in the State government that they never had before. We just have to keep it going. We have to keep the momentum going. We have a phenomenal agenda this year that could do great things for people in this state and really chart a new course on important issues. That issue of sexual harassment has to end here, it has to end now. I have three daughters. The Cuomo family, my father and my mother: 14 grandchildren, 13 girls out of 14 grandchildren. God is saying, "Andrew, you'd better get this sexual harassment agenda done." We're going to get it done in New York.
Protecting the environment, taking care of this Russian hacking issue and making voting easier, improving our criminal justice system, and stopping this federal attack on our property taxes. That's our agenda. We will get it done if we stay together. We just have to make sure in Albany we don't catch the Washington flu. Washington is all about extreme politics. It's partisan, they're yelling, they're not talking. Our attitude in Albany has always been the opposite. And I say to my colleagues, "We're Democrats, we're Republicans, we're New Yorkers first." And our job is very simple: do what is right for the people of our state. And don't play politics, and don't bring them here.
We've done seven budgets on-time, the first time in 50 years, a Republican Senate and a Democratic Assembly. You can compromise. You can listen. You can hear. And you can move the state forward. We've done it before, we're going to do it again, and there's no more important year than this year with the issues on the table. Thank you and God bless you.