In the final chapter of his four-part State of the State Address on Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked about building a “new New York” with a litany of projects statewide but little detail on how they’ll be funded.
Cuomo invoked Franklin Roosevelt, who served as New York’s governor before becoming president. He said FDR’s New Deal originated from the bridges, tunnels and skyscrapers built in the state. But he said the country has allowed other nations to surpass it in infrastructure development.
“We chose to kick the can down the road,” he said. “A road that was crumbling before our eyes.”
Even as the state has opened new infrastructure projects in recent months, such as the Moynihan Train Hall and the new LaGuardia terminal, Cuomo pledged to do more.
That includes an overhaul of Penn Station, which he called an overcrowded blight. Those plans include a new terminal that would increase capacity by 40 percent. Cuomo also wants to transform Pier 76 in Manhattan from a police impound lot to an inviting public space and redevelop the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Those projects are part of a $51 billion investment for the west side of Manhattan that the governor said will result in 196,000 jobs.
“Even more, they will show New Yorkers and the world that a new New York City is in reach and that the future is bright,” he said.
Cuomo didn’t leave out the rest of the state. He discussed taking down the Buffalo Skyway and replacing it with a park that adjoins Lake Erie. The state is ready to work on that as soon as it receives federal approval.
He also said the state will redesign the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse, with a groundbreaking set for next year.
But before the governor outlined plans to invest in new projects, he hammered on a familiar message: the federal government having turned its back on the state. Cuomo said residents are frustrated seeing their federal tax dollars prop up 42 other states.
“Why should we subsidize other states to keep their taxes artificially low so they can then appeal to our citizens and businesses to relocate?” he said.
He’s been beating the drum for $15 billion in federal aid to fill the state’s budget deficit. He held out little hope for that after the most recent COVID-19 relief package did not include state and local aid. However, after Georgia elected two Democrats to the U.S. Senate last week, Cuomo noted that he and his staff would have to rewrite the State of the State address.
On Monday, Cuomo briefly mentioned pushing to legalize recreational marijuana and mobile sports betting but didn’t offer specifics about those.
On Thursday, the governor said Democrats in Congress are now in a position to deliver for the state.
“Basic fairness is all we ask, but basic fairness we demand,” Cuomo said.
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