Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2017 regional State of the State address at SUNY Purchase College in Westchester.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available here.
A rush transcript of his remarks are available below:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. Thank you. You’re going to make me blush. I like the way chairman Carl McCall did that – I got an automatic standing ovation. Wasn’t that beautiful? First, to Chairman Carl McCall who is just doing an extraordinary job. Not only leading SUNY, but he has been a lifelong public servant. He has done it all and he has done it with total integrity. Carl McCall, thank you very much. Reverend Richardson, as usual, thank you for your inspiration and your leadership and your guidance, it’s a pleasure to be with you my friend. Reverend Richardson, let’s give him a round of applause. To all the local elected officials who are here today, thank you, thank you for being with us, members of my administration, members of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, pleasure to be with you. Nancy Zimpher who runs the SUNY system, it’s a pleasure to be with her. And it is a pleasure to be back at SUNY Purchase. This is a great university and its doing great things and let’s give the entire administration a round of applause.
This is the time of year that we talk about the State of the State. Soon, the president, the new president, will be doing the State of the Union that lays out his vision for the country. Governors do what they call the state of the state that gives a statement of the condition of where the state is. What is the condition of New York as we enter January 2017? Well the truth is ship of state is stronger than it has been in decades. We have made remarkable economic and social progress. We’ve been working on both fronts and both fronts have been going very well. Not since the time of FDR and Robert Moses has our government produced more, achieved more, passed more meaningful legislation, and built more for the people of the State of New York. We’ve done a lot of good work together over the past six years. That is undeniable. But what makes our economic progress even sweeter is that it is matched by unprecedented social progress. We’ve made the numbers work, but we also advanced society and progressive values in society. We were the first big state to pass marriage equality. We changed the discussion nationwide on the issue of marriage equality. Once we passed it, the vice president supported it, the president supported it, it’s now the law of the land. But I think it shows that when New York acts, it reverberates all across the country. And I think we did a great thing when we passed marriage equality.
Same thing when we passed paid family leave. It’s resonating all across the nation. Fifteen dollar minimum wage – the minimum wage was $9 an hour. You can’t live in the state of New York on $18,000. It just doesn’t work. And by the way, minimum wage workers are not young kids who are working at a McDonald’s. The majority are older and are married or are supporting children. So raising that minimum wage and giving people at the very bottom a lift, and hope, and a sustainable income, literally is going to change their lives. So we were the first big state to do that and I’m proud of that. You put it all together, you see that we’ve made great progress in the fundamental barometer, which is we have more people working in this state than before. Our unemployment has gone from 8.4 percent to 5.1 and when you look, it’s all across the state that is sharing in the success. It’s not just about downstate New York, which is what the old story was, meanwhile Hudson valley, upstate, would struggle.
This progress has been all across the state. Today New York State has more private sector jobs than have ever existed in the history of the state of New York’s 7.9 million. 62,000 of those jobs are in the mid-Hudson region which makes it even better. It’s a tremendous increase. And you see the dramatic progress not just in the numbers and in the numbers of jobs but you see it physically also. You see it at the LaGuardia airport you see it in physical construction all across this state. Now the change didn’t just come about. And change normally doesn’t just happen. Change occurs when you make it happen. And it’s hard to make change. You know we think in concept we like change right, yea in concept we like change. But in truth we like control. You know the husband and wife are at the breakfast table and they’re looking at each other in the morning and the husband says to the wife you know things have to change here. Yea he means she has to change that’s what he saying. He’s fine. She has to change. And vice versa. It is very, very hard to change but we had fundamental problems in this state that had to change.
New York State was spending more money than the people in the state were earning. Let me say that again. The spending increase in New York was higher than the increase in the wages of the people of the state of New York. Now you would think that’s impossible. I would think that’s impossible. But that’s why New Yorkers have the feeling that government is taking a bigger piece of their paycheck. Because it is taking a bigger and bigger piece of their paycheck. Because this state couldn’t show the fiscal discipline to reduce the rate of spending. And this is Democrats and Republicans. That old adage that well Republicans are good on fiscal matters. It’s the Democrats that love to spend. Oh really? Governor Nelson Rockefeller on average 11% more every year. Governor Hugh Carey, 7.6. Mario Cuomo 6.9. George Pataki Republican conservative elected because Mario Cuomo spent too much money because he was a big spending liberal. Difference 12 years between Mario Cuomo and George Pataki 1.7 percent. That was the difference in the spending rate. They were both governors for 12 years. That was dramatically too high. You can’t spend 5.2 percent a year when inflation is 4.1. It means people aren’t earning that much money. Their house value isn’t going up that much. Their bank account isn’t going up that much. So you can’t spend more than people are making. We said you have to bring real fiscal discipline.
After six years our average increase 1.4% and that’s what is started to change this state around. Now when you cut spending all sorts of good things happen. We’re after New Year’s. We’re on New Year’s resolutions. When you intake fewer calories. Good things happen. It’s hard to do but reducing caloric intake works. Reducing spending works when you reduce spending you can cut takes. And we cut takes all across the board. Every rate business tax, corporate tax, income tax from the highest to the lowest we cut taxes all across the board. We made New York more business friendly and we made New York state government entrepreneurial. Now people say that’s’ an oxymoron. Government can’t be entrepreneurial. Yes, it can. Government doesn’t have to bureaucratic and inefficient. It can be as smart and streamlined as business and that’s what we’ve been doing in Albany. We also stopped a number of our policies. In the old days, Albany would sit there and tell Westchester County what to do. Tell the Mid-Hudson Valley what to do. And say here’s money and we want you to do this. We flipped that whole equation. And that’s what we call our Regional Economic Development Councils. We put together business leaders, academic leaders in every region, and we said to them “you come up with the business plans for your region and we will fund your vision.” And it is working, and it is working very well. $4.6 billion invested in the REDC’s since 2011. And it’s created 210,000 jobs, 5,200 projects all across the Mid-Hudson area. 476 million, in 600 hundred right here. 600 hundred projects right here.
A Central pillar of the Mid-Hudson strategy has been high-tech jobs and infrastructure. Regeneron, which is a phenomenal success—the state leveraged $5 million, it’s a $150 million expansion. 300 jobs, and Regeneron is going strong. A New York State built company by the way.
We invested $2.5 million in Pratt. And Whitney a $137 million relocation. 195 jobs. We’re investing $100 billion in infrastructure all across the state. 10,000 miles of roads, 2,600 bridges, because the infrastructure are the arteries and the veins of the economy. If they don’t work the economy doesn’t work. And we’re investing in infrastructure and we’re getting it done. 93 in the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, and after years and years of talking about the Tappan Zee Bridge, and traumatizing generations that it was going to fall, and giving people all sorts of nightmares and phobias that last to this day, we’re building a new Tappan Zee Bridge. It’s on time and it’s in place.
And it shows, my friends, once again, that we can still get things done. You know, we’re still New York and we can still make things happen. And it’s good to see. We’ve spent a lot of money on tourism. We’ve gotten a tremendous return on tourism. We invested about $150 million. This is the “I Love New York” campaign—the commercials you see. The signs you see. We have a record in recent tourism. $102 billion industry for this state—the highest record ever. And again, you see the growth is all state wide because we’ve been promoting it state wide. It’s been great for the Mid-Hudson region; more than 19 million tourists visited the region, up 13 percent since 2010. They spent $3.4 billion, they also had a nice time, but they spent $3.4 billion. The spending is up close to 20 percent. Tourism provides 54,000 jobs—7 percent more tourism jobs. We invested 5.5 in the walk way which is just a phenomenal success. And it’s getting stronger. 500,000 visitors. The Fjord Trail between Beacon and Cold Spring. Minnewaska State Park-- $7 million. But we have more to do.
I am proposing in this session, going forward, what we call the Middle Class Recovery Act. Because the middle class is in many ways, suffering still. They’ve made progress, but not enough progress. Middle class in real wages are behind where they were 20 years ago. And that’s a lot of the anger that we heard in this past election. A middle class that feels forgotten by their government, and has been struggling by the economy. In terms of jobs and infrastructure, we want to invest again in tourism, because the returns have been proven. But we want to do something that I believe will be a legacy project that our children and our children’s children will enjoy. And I’m very excited about this.
We want to build the largest state multi-use trail in the nation. The Empire State Trail. It would go from New York City to the North Country. From Albany to Buffalo. Just think about it. It would go from New York to the North Country right up to the Canadian border. From Albany to Buffalo. 750 miles. It would be a finished pathway that travels through our parks, our valleys, along our waterways, through our beautiful tourist destinations all across the state. You could run, you could bike, you could walk, you could do segments of it. You could make it an entire vacation. You would see some of the most beautiful parks in the state. We have two existing greenways that would be expanded and connected. We have an Erie Canal Greenway and a Hudson River Greenway, which would need to be finished and connected. But, the two essential elements are there. We would then have the state bike Route 9 go from Lake George up to the Canadian border. Residents and visitors would be able to cycle, run, walk year round. No motor vehicles.
When we’re talking about recreation and health and wellness, it would be a phenomenal activity center in our own backyard. We could have an app that plugs it into local Bed & Breakfasts, and restaurants all along the route, so it would be a constant supply of tourism activity. You know what Walkway Across the Hudson did, when nobody thought it would generate anything when it started. It became a phenomenal success. Imagine what the longest trail in the country could actually do, and how many people would come here to visit it and see it, especially when you think about what you would be able to see. You go through our beautiful downtowns, like Kingston. You go past Olana, the Walkway over the Hudson, you’re going through the whole Hudson Valley, Clermont. You then from Albany to Buffalo is a beautiful area. The Erie Canal, Amsterdam, the old towns that we have. Hundreds and hundreds of destinations. It would connect the state parks, historic sites. We would have apps, we could make it part of the ‘I Love NY’ campaign, promote it nationwide. I think it’s a winner. To create the Empire State Trail, we would have to build, pave and grade 350 miles of multi-use trail. Sounds like a lot but it’s not a road that we’re building, it’s just a trail that we would pave. It would link 40 segments in total, because as I said, there are segments all throughout the state. We’d need about 50 bridges, tunnels and culverts. The all new trail will have a finished surface such as blacktop, installed lighting, scenic outlooks, there’d be signage. We would do it in 3 phases. This is what exists now. Phase One would add 72 miles, Phase Two would add 82 miles, Phase Three would complete it with 196 miles. We would have the whole trail done. The vast majority of the land we already own, so the basic cost is the construction cost but I believe it would change the economy through the Hudson Valley and through the Erie Canal corridor, which are two areas that desperately need more economic activity. Statistics show for every $1 million invested in multiuse trails, it creates 9.6 jobs. Homebuyers love it as an amenity when purchasing a home. The total trail cost, $200 Million. We propose $53 million in this budget, complete Phase One of which $26 million will be completing the trail in the Mid-Hudson Region. And remember this can start in segments. Not everyone is going to come and do all 750 miles, myself included. But you can come to do a span in the Mid-Hudson, you come and you do the Walkway to Olana etc. And starting in the Mid-Hudson, which really is our strength in terms of historic beauty and historic sites, I think is the intelligent way to start so I’m really excited about that and I hope you are too.
We must also continue to build and rebuild our infrastructure. Route 32, exit 131 in the town of Woodbury is a vital access point. It is also a bottleneck, not to use another word – I don’t know how many of you have experienced it. But it can be one of the more infuriating experiences in life. I am a very calm person; I tend not to get excited. But this can really test your patience going through this area. We’ve been talking about fixing it for a long, long time, everybody’s had a plan, and nobody’s done anything. This year we’re going to do it - $150 million, we’re going to create a new transit and economic development hub to actually clean it up and make it work. We’re going to reconstruct the Route 32 Bridge over Route 17, build additional lanes on Route 17, and install solar power bus stops, commuter parking at Metro North, a new pedestrian sidewalk on 32. The RFP will be out next month, in the next month and shovels will be in the ground of November 2017.
When we talk about infrastructure, we often don’t think of what is today, I believe, one of the most important systems of infrastructure which is our water infrastructure. The water infrastructure itself is aging; the pipes are getting older, they need upgrading, but also we have a safety issue with water. Because for many years this was a manufacturing state, an industrial state, we left a lot of residue in the ground. A lot of brown fields – those brown fields eventually leech into the groundwater and we are still discovering chemicals that can be dangerous over long-term exposure. I’ve spent a lot of time on this with the federal government and the list changes almost on a weekly basis where they find a new chemical that shouldn’t be allowed in drinking water. This is, I believe, critically important, especially for young children who are drinking water and these chemicals are building up in their bodies. We need to take immediate action – I want a $2 billion fund to rebuild our water infrastructure: state of the art drinking water treatment systems, filtration systems, replace failing water infrastructure, and protect drinking water at its source. We have to have clean drinking water getting into homes. It’s becoming more and more of a problem – the time to address it is now, and we’re ready to do it. We also want communities to work together to come up with economic plans - $2 billion is a lot of money, but it’s worth it because we’re talking about the health of our children and nothing is more important. And I hope you support it.
In terms of access to education, the world is changing – one time, all you needed was a high school diploma; one time, you didn’t even need a high school diploma. But then for the past 70 years or so it was a high school diploma, and if you had a high school diploma you could be okay. You could go out, you could work, you could make a living, you could drive a truck, and those days are all but gone. They say 3.5 million jobs will require college education by 2024. It’s getting harder and harder – we’re getting jobs back from overseas now, but they’re advanced manufacturing jobs. And they require a college education. They all do. I was in a Buffalo engine building plant – General Motors plant – where they build engines. And GM just did a $300 million installation, and they were building a new series of engines. I was walking through the plants. And here they are engine builders, right? Mechanics. You know the one thing I didn’t see in the entire plant? I didn’t see any tools. It was all automated. It was a machine that picked it up, moved it, did this, put it down, another machine picked it up. And every few feet there’d be a computer terminal and somebody at a computer terminal that was programming the automated machine when it made a mistake.
Advanced manufacturing is here. The manufacturing days where it was the strength of your back, those days are gone. That was left overseas. You need a college education. The problem is it is more expensive than ever before and the college debt is higher than ever before. This college debt is now so high, on average, is about $30,000 dollars when a person graduates. You start your life off with a $30,000 debt, for college? That’s what a mortgage used to cost when you bought your first house. If college is essential, the way high school was essential, let’s make that statement as society. The state with the most educated workforce wins. The individual with the best education wins. That is the truth. We know that is the truth. We know that is the future. Then let’s lead to the future. The way we made high school free, we should be on our way to making college free. We can’t get there in one step, we can’t get there overnight, but we can say this year: families up to $125,000, free tuition for their children in state schools and I think that’s going to be the first step towards ultimately, a free college system. And it’s fitting that New York is the first state in the nation to take that step and let the others follow. In the Mid-Hudson Valley, 63 percent of the families would qualify at $125,000 below.
The key to a great education K to 12 are the teachers. I learned this at home from my mother who was a school teacher. Many ways she still is—she now is involved in mentoring. Teachers don’t get the appreciation often that they deserve. Last year we launched an Excellence in Teaching award. Best 60 teachers in the state got a $5,000 development award. I want to do it again. It’s not about the money, it’s not about the award, it’s just a way for the state to say thank you, for people who work very hard.
We have to cut taxes. We’ve cut taxes on the state side, but we have to do more. Now, $1,800 is the median income tax. Median state income tax. Median property tax, $4,700. You pay high taxes, don’t be mad at me. I’m only that little yellow bar. See that little yellow bar? And by the way, I’ve reduced that little yellow bar every year. $1,800. Property taxes are what is killing this state. Killing this state. Two and a half times what the state income tax is. We have the highest property tax in the United States of America. Westchester County, highest property tax in the United States of America. Just think about that. Think about it. And Nassau is number two. Upstate New York, by percentage of home value, has the highest property taxes in the United States. Average property tax—Westchester $11,000, Nassau 10, Suffolk 8, New York 5, USA $3,000. Look at the differential.
This hurts people on fixed income, this depresses the home value. People look at homes to purchase in Westchester, their mortgage payment is going to be less than their tax payment. Now, we’ve talked about this for a long, long time. Well, that’s just your thing Andrew Cuomo. No, there was another Governor also. Important fella. FDR, 1932. He was focused on this like a laser. Increase in real-estate taxes is due wholly to the increase across the local government, not state government.
These taxes on real-estate are too high. Local government has been guilty of great waste and duplication—FDR. He was focused on it, he was working on it. He was called away to a different job, he left it behind, I’m picking it up. We have to do something about property taxes. Now, I have tried everything on property taxes. I have tried being charming, I have tried seduction, I have tried incentives, I begged, I pleaded, I threatened, it is very, very difficult. The one thing we have been able to do so far is pass a property tax cap. Property tax cap said if a locality goes to raise the property taxes by more than 2 percent, they have to get super majority. The 2 percent, at that time, property taxes we’re going up 8 and 10 percent a year. They were going up higher than the rate of income. Higher than the rate of home appreciation. Why? Because when you’re a politician, and they bring you the budget, it’s always easy to say yes. Yes. We want more parks, yes. Parks are good. We want more busses. Yes, busses are good. We want more meals for seniors. Yes, seniors should eat. You ever hear anyone say, no, seniors should not eat. Everyone’s on a diet. It’s too easy to say yes. So without any discipline, without any check, it continually went up and up and up. The property tax cap has saved $16 billion. Including $4 billion here in the Mid-Hudson. Average homeowners have saved 2,100 just by the property tax cap. But there’s more to do because the waves in duplication are still too high.
Westchester County for example, 425 local governments. Now think about what this means. Every morning, 425 local governments open their doors, 425 light switches, 425 electric bills, 425 Xerox machines, 425 cars, 425 local governments, 790 elected Chief Executives and legislators. I like politics. Do you really need 790 elected Chief Executives and legislators? 580 lawyers. I’m a lawyer. That’s a lot of lawyers. 580 lawyers. Equipment etcetera. There must be savings that we can find by working together. I am telling you, these 425 local governments in that county very rarely come together, sit together, plan together, cooperate together, and find out how to save money. It’s not even human behavior. They don’t even want to do it. They would rather keep to themselves and you have your own government and you run your own government and you have everything that you need, rather than having to work to share. I understand the instinct. But we cannot afford it any longer.
And the cap has been very helpful, but we want to not just slow growth, we want to reduce the number. I believe if you put these 425 local governments in the room and the county executives stood here and said ‘We’re going to stay in this room until we figure out how to save money. Because not everybody needs to buy a new road tractor every 2 years, we can share. Not everybody has to go do their own purchasing of police cars, we’ll do one big order and we’ll get a great economy in scale. Not everybody has to have their own HR department, we can all cooperate and do an HR department.’ There have to be ways to find savings! Imagine if this was a private corporation in Westchester, with 425 branch officers, all basically performing the same service, right? Fire, water, sewer, roads, all basically doing the same thing. But all doing it in total isolation, without any coordination with any of the others. It is insanity, insanity! Now everybody is proud of the town they live in, I’m in Newcastle, Mount Kisco, Chappaqua, Bedford, everybody is proud of the town they live in. Great! But does it really matter to you if they are sharing dump trucks? Right? Does it really matter if they’re sharing road building equipment or if you’re doing common orders on equipment and police cars etc.? Of course you can save money. We just have to make the effort. And the reason we haven’t? Because it’s not a private corporation and there is no profit incentive and because it’s nobody’s money. Its taxpayers money, it’s nobody’s money.
So yes, there’s always the easy answer. But what we want is a plan this year that the county executive brings together the local governments, the communities, the business leaders, stakeholders to create a plan to share services, find efficiencies and reduce costs. The county executive will say, “I’m not empowered to do that’. They’ve said that to me. ‘Nobody’s ever asked me to call together the local governments.’ I said, ‘Well you’re the county executive, nobody has to ask you. You’re the county executive, call them together.’ ‘Well they won’t come’. I say “They’ll come, they like you. You’re nice. They’ll come. Offer cookies and donuts.’ This will be a program where the county executive brings them together, finds ways to save money, and put together a plan, how do you share services, find efficiencies, and reduce costs. Take that plan, and put it on the ballot in November so people can vote on the plan. And the citizens can vote yes or no, and the citizens can tell you whether they think you’re doing a good enough job spending their money or not. It’s about time people have a say in how their money is spent.
If the citizens reject the plan, the county executive and local governments go back to the drawing board, come up with a new plan and they put it on the ballot for the next year. And they keep doing that until the plan is actually improved. It is a way to empower our citizens to actually make a difference because until the citizens get into the game, it’s not going to change. Because it is too just to keep on doing it the way they’re doing it. I have done everything I can. What the county executives will say is ‘Do you want property taxes to come down? Well, the state should pick up our costs.’ Now, by the way, I have picked up a lot of the costs for counties. I picked up the largest cost, which was the growth in the Medicaid program. Cost the state billions of dollars, saved Westchester County something like $56 million. But, the point is not to transfer the cost, it’s to reduce the cost. If you transfer the cost to the state, all that means is that I have to raise the state’s taxes. And what’s the difference? You pay from one pocket or the other. It’s not reduce county taxes, raise state taxes, we want to lower both. I have this conversation with my daughters. They’re on a budget. They get X amount per month, and they’re supposed to live within that budget, that’s the concept of the budget. You get this much money, you spend this much money.
What they like to do is they’ll call and they say ‘I need a new jacket.’ I say, ‘Ok, buy yourself the new jacket.’ “Well No, no, because then it won’t fit within my budget, I need you to pay for the jacket.” I said “Well that defeats the purpose. If I buy the jacket, then you didn’t really live within the budget.” It’s not transfer the cost to the state, it’s actually reduce the cost to the taxpayer between the state and the locals. I have cut the state. I will continue to cut the state, but you’re paying 2.5X as much in property taxes and that is what has to change and that has to change now. Because we’ve done everything else that we’ve can. And I’ve tried every way I can do it. I’m telling you, unless the citizens get into the game, it’s not going to change. And the opposition to this is going to be fierce. Because it’s going to be the entire political class is going to oppose it.
So I’m going to need the people of this state to stand up and speak loudly and say ‘We’re tired of paying these local property taxes.” Do at your local government what I did in my home. The way I had to sit around my kitchen table and figure out how to save money when the economy slowed down. And how to take less trips and how to find money to save here and there. Let government go through that same exercise because they can tighten their belt the same way every person in this room has tightened their belt.
We also want to help the middle class with the Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit because the cost of child care is now up to about $25,000 dollars per year for two children. We want to double the credit which will help people all across this state. We’ve talked a lot about creating jobs, but the quality of life is also important to us and in all of these places government is performing. We’ve made it a point to stress that government is not about dialog, and government is not about talking and government is not about debating. Government is a service agency. We are supposed to get things done. Build the bridge, fill the pothole, make life better, clean up Penn Station it’s disgusting. Rebuild LaGuardia airport it’s an embarrassment. Have a better train station at Penn Farley and we are actually making things happen. We’re not talking about it. We’re delivering it.
But there is another piece to this great state. And there’s another piece to this state especially at this time. Because this is a time of political upheaval. And this is a time of instability and a time of confusion and a time of anger. We’ve seen more hate crimes recently than we’ve seen in a long time all across the state. And it’s very disturbing. Swastikas, anti-Semitism, white supremacist rants all across the state. And there’s no doubt that this tension and this anger in the middle class feels an anger, but there’s also no doubt that it is destructive to this country and it is repugnant of the values of the state of New York.
So this year at this time of upheaval and transition and at this time when people are looking for their foundation and looking for their moorings I think it’s more important than ever that New Yorkers stand true and firm to who we are and what we believe. We are the progressive capital of the nation. We are a progressive people. And we have withstood stormy times many, many times before and we have fundamental values. We are the home to the Statue of Liberty. We are the state of diversity because we are all immigrants. Unless you are a Native American we are all immigrants. We all came from somewhere else and New York’s promise has always been the same. That its’s not just in words and actions, as New Yorkers we believe in immigration. I’m an Italian American. You want to deport immigrants deport me.
We believe in tolerance. We believe in community and people working together. We believe there’s a cord that connects you to you to you to you and that cord weaves a fabric and that is the fabric of community. And when one person is raised and we’re all raised. And when one person is lowered we’re all lowered. We believe as a community that individuals have rights and those rights should be respecting of those rights should be advance. We believe in women’s rights and moving them forward. We believe in gay rights and moving them forward. We believe, we believe no New Yorker and no American should ever be subject to discrimination and we have zero tolerance of discrimination. And we believe in mutuality. Our founding fathers said it simply and beautiful in three words. E Pluribus Unum. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many one. Why? Because they knew when they founded this nation they were doing something that had never been done before. This is not a nation of one race, or one religion or one creed.
This is a nation built from putting up a welcome sign saying if you want to come live here and work with us you are invited. And they put it on the Statue of Liberty and they put it in the harbor and people from all across the world came. You can’t unify us by race because we are not of one race. WE are not of one religion. We are of one ideology and one idea that you can take people from different places and find a commonality and not the differences and forge community and it can be a mutuality where they all rise up and you make one community from this diversity. New York is the laboratory for that. New York is the laboratory for that because we were the stepping off point. They stopped first here we were the welcome mat. 18 million people. Every generation, more diverse than the next. Different languages, different cultures and we think it’s beautiful. We’re not afraid of the diversity it makes it interesting. You put all those different cultures each person bringing their own special ingredient makes a beautiful stew. That’s New York and we believe in it. And we believe in our motto Excelsior. Which says what? Which says we listen to our better angels.
We are always striving to do better. We are looking up. We’re looking to excel and at this time, at this time of anger in this nation and fear in this nation that is dividing us. Let New York said that’s not who we are and we will not go there. We’re listening to our better angels. We’re finding the commonalities that made this state the greatest state on the planet because we believe in one another and we are united and united there is nothing that we can’t do. Division doesn’t’ work in New York. Anger doesn’t work in New York. Anger doesn’t work in New York. Discrimination doesn’t’ work in New York. Progressive policies, law and commonality works in New York and this nation needs to hear that message today. Thank you and God bless you.
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2017 regional State of the State address at SUNY Purchase College in Westchester.