This week, the Governor delivered his 2021 State of the State Address over the course of four days, with each day focusing on specific aspects of his 2021 Legislative Priorities.
DAY 1 – Overview
On the first day of his four-day State of the State, the Governor provided a broad overview of his 2021 Legislative Agenda. Much of what the Governor presented on this day was recapped information that he has addressed since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. However, he did present seven points of emphasis that his Legislative Agenda will focus on for the upcoming year. Those points include:
- Defeat COVID-19
- Vaccinate New York
- Manage Short-Term Economic Crisis
- Understand Long-Term Effects of COVID
- Invest in the Future
- Transition to Green Energy
- Address Systemic Injustice.
During his first address he also reiterated several proposals that he has previously announced, including legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana, legalizing sports betting and wagering, expanding telehealth, passing the Medical Supplies Act, and establishing a New York Public Health Corps.
DAY 2 – Reconstruction
The Governor said that Day Two of his State of the State was focused on, “reopening our great State smartly and safely.” The Governor began by pointing to the pilot program held at the Buffalo Bills game, which included testing almost 7,000 fans before and after the game using rapid testing, saying that, “all early indications suggest this model was successful.” He then stated that his administration will be looking at this model as a possible way to reopen restaurants in Orange Zones, as well as concert venues, Broadway and movie theaters. Along with this, the Governor also outlined several proposals including:
- Safely Bringing Back the Arts with Pop-Up Performances and Events:
Beginning in February, this initiative will see a public-private partnership organizing pop-up performances around the State and will include more than 150 artists and arts organizations such as Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Hugh Jackman, Renee Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, Ballet Hispanico, the Albany Symphony Orchestra and more.
- Supporting New York Artists Through the Creatives Rebuild Initiative:
Governor Cuomo announced that the State will partner with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the Creatives Rebuild Initiative. The Reimagine New York Commission and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will put 1,000 artists whom have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions back to work, and will invest in dozens of small arts organizations.
- First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All Low-Income Families:
The Governor announced his proposal to expanded broadband access across New York State, as well as making it affordable for low-income families. The proposal would require that internet service providers offer a $15 per month high speed plan to every low-income household across the State, and would require that providers advertise this plan. The Governor also announced that, “the State will partner with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch a new hardship fund to pay for internet subscriptions for our most in need who cannot afford $15 per month during this crisis.”
- Expand SUNY’s Online Training Center to Close Skills Gaps and Fill High Demand Jobs:
Governor Cuomo announced that his administration will expand SUNY’s free Online Training Center. This expansion will allow New Yorkers to enroll in additional employment certification programs, which will help them find quality job opportunities in high-demand industries.
- Convene a Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy:
To address the underlying inequities exposed by the COVID pandemic, the Governor announced that he will be establishing the Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy. The Governor’s press releases stated that, “the commission will be composed of leading members of the nation’s academic, business, labor, and civil society leaders,” and that the Executive Director of the commission will be NYU Wagner School of Public Service Dean Sherry Glied.
- Creatively Repurposing Underutilized Commercial Space for Additional Housing:
Governor Cuomo announced that he will propose legislation that will aim to create a five-year period during which property owners may convert office buildings and hotels in New York City into residential units, which the Governor says will, “create thousands of good-paying jobs, increase housing affordability, and support long-term economic growth by helping New York’s employers attract and retain talent.”
DAY 3 – Building the Green Economy
Day Three of the State of the State focused on the Governor’s proposals to help the State become a leader in growing the green economy, which include proposals such as:
- Largest Offshore Wind Program in the Nation:
New York will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC to develop two new offshore wind farms, which will be more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island. These new wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, pushing the amount of New York energy coming from renewable sources to over 50%, and will create more than 5,200 jobs.
- Global Wind Manufacturing Powerhouse:
The Governor hopes to, “make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse,” by upgrading five dedicated port facilities including:
- The Port of Albany to include the nation’s first offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility.
- The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal to include an offshore wind turbine staging facility and operations and maintenance hub.
- The Port of Coeymans to include cutting-edge turbine foundation manufacturing.
- Buttressing the ongoing operations and maintenance out of Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk.
- Construct New York’s Green Energy Transmission Superhighway:
The State will now look to, “create a modern transmission system” to deliver clean energy generated Upstate to high-demand areas Downstate. This will include the construction of a new green energy superhighway which will span 250 miles from Upstate to Downstate.
- Public-Private Partnership to Build Nearly 100 Renewable Energy Projects:
The Governor announced that, in 2021, the State will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects, which will bring the State total clean energy build-out to almost 100 projects.
DAY 4 – Building New York Infrastructure
During the fourth and final day of his State of the State, the Governor chose to focus on improving New York’s infrastructure. The proposals included in his day-four speech include:
- Midtown West Redevelopment in New York City:
Beginning with the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall, the State will continue the redevelopment of Midtown West in NYC with a $51 billion transit-oriented plan, which will create new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improve public transit and pedestrian connections, and 196,000 jobs. The plan includes efforts such as replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal, developing the Empire Station Complex by adding track capacity, restoring 14 buildings that will provide new affordable housing and commercial opportunities, transforming Pier 76 into a new waterfront park, and expanding the Javits Center by 1.2 million square feet.
- Modernizing New York Airports:
The State will continue its plan of improving airports around the State by continuing to build the new LaGuardia Airport, continuing the JFK Airport transformation, and committing an addition $100 million in round two funding for the Upstate Airport Economic Development Revitalization Competition.
- Improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers:
The State will also continue to improve mass transit by beginning Phase II of the Second Ave Subway extension and completing the LIRR Third Track Project.
- Updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges:
The Governor outlined several upgrades to various roads, highways, and bridges around the State, including:
- Investing $1.7 billion to create direct access to and from the Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan Boulevard for trucks serving the Hunts Point Distribution Center.
- The completion of a $150 million project that will ease access and improve traffic flow along Route 31, Route 390, and the Interstate 390/490 Interchange in Monroe County
- The continuation of work on the Newburgh Beacon Ridge to complete a full deck replacement on the north span of the bridge over the Hudson River.
- The conduction of an environmental and public review of its proposal to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse.
- Other Infrastructure Updates:
The Governor also relayed the progress of several other major infrastructure projects across the State related building new public spaces in communities and attracting tourism. Such updates include:
- A plan to remove the Skyway Bridge in downtown Buffalo and transform it into a park.
- The conversion of an underutilized interstate exit ramp in Albany into a linear park with a landscaped promenade, event spaces, and an accessible shared-use path.
- In 2021, Binghamton University will complete the construction of its Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City, which will include the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, a new school of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, a new eldercare teaching clinic in partnership with Lourdes Hospital, and a new pharmacological R&D facility.
- LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County will open this year, drawing tourists back to New York after the COVID pandemic.
Although the Governor outlined many ambitious proposals during his four-day State of the State, it is still unclear which proposals will end up in his Executive Budget Proposal, which we expect to be released early-to-mid next week, and which proposals will become stand-alone legislation. We will continue to monitor the Governor’s press releases regarding his 2021 Legislative Agenda and Proposals and the release of the Executive Budget Proposal.