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NYSAC Reaction to the State of the State

NYSAC's Leg Team reacts to the 2021 State of the State
 

This week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would be delivering the annual State of the State in four installments. Each day, your legislative team at NYSAC is watching the address and providing the county perspective on the proposals outlined by the Governor. 

Day 4

In his final a State of the State address of 2021, Governor Cuomo focused almost exclusively on infrastructure, including an investment of over $51 billion for Manhattan through the creation of a new westside transit hub and other public sector projects to connect portions of midtown and new projects underway including the redevelopment of the Buffalo Skyway, and other significant infrastructure investment projects. 

Overall, Day 4 offered the fewest specifics or proposals with any apparent connection to county government. During their post-speech analysis, our team discussed they're overall impressions of the State of the State proposals, what they did - and didn't - hear this week, and what they'll be watching for next week when the Executive Budget is introduced. 




Day 3

In the third day of his four-part State of the State series, the governor focused on Investing in a New Green Economy. The speech focused on four core areas 
  1. Build Large Scale Renewable Projects 
    • The state has begun construction on two large-scale wind farms off of Long Island.
       
  2. Start NY Manufacturing 
    • Creation of an offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany which will employ 300 skilled workers. 
    • NYS will have 5 offshore wind port facilities - more than any state in the country.
       
  3. Build Transmission Capacity 
    • The state is launching a competitive process to create a green transmission grid for at least 3 projects. 
    • The Governor announced the construction of new battery storage facilities.
       
  4. Create a Green Energy Workforce Training Program 
    • Prevailing wage and project labor agreements as well as MWBE requirements will be required on all of these projects. 
Joining Ryan Gregoire today for post speech analysis was NYSAC Deputy Director, Mark Lavigne. Ryan and Mark broke down what the was covered in the address as well as some of the work NYSAC is doing to promote green technologies and help counties implement energy-saving initiatives reduce CO2 emissions and improve climate resiliency.




Day 2

Today, in the second installment of the 2021 State of the State, the Governor outlined ideas around
  • Reopening Smartly
    • Expanded rapid testing 
    • COVID-19 Safe Office Buildings - active testing at commercial office buildings
  • Restoring the Arts
    • NY Arts Revival – private-public partnership to bring arts back. Beginning 2/4, the state will begin a statewide public arts festival which will include two major celebrations – the opening of Little Island at Pier 55 and the 20th Anniversary of the Tribecca Film Festival in June
    • Launching of a “Creative Rebuild Initiative”
  • The Remote Economy - expanding broadband affordability
    • Iincrease broadband affordability by requiring third-party providers to develop a $15 high speed internet plan for low income households
    • Creation of a statewide fund for low-income households that cannot afford $15/month internet through a philanthropic endowment from private sector groups 
  • Homelessness and Housing Crisis
    • expansion of affordable housing into vacant commercial space.  
  • Commission on the Future of the New York Economy
    • Pathways Pledge – Workforce Development Expansion, Expansion of SUNY's online training center  
Following the spech, NYSAC's Ryan Gregoire and Dave Lucas discussed the impact - or lack thereof - of the proposals announced today on counties. 
 
 
Day 1

In the first installment of this year's State of the State address,the Governor offered a sweeping vision for the upcoming year but offered few specifics, including a Seven Point Plan to
 
  1. Defeat COVID
    • Medical Supplies Act – incentivize the production of medical supplies. New York will then purchase direct from that supply chain here in NY.  
    • Introduce legislation authorizing telehealth during the post-COVID period.
       
  2. Vaccinate NY
    • Expanded the distribution network has been expanded
    • Launching a NYS Public Health Corporation (Cornell and Northwell Partnership) 
    • The state is also going to launch a “Citizen Public Health Training Program” with the goal of training 100,000 health emergency volunteers. 
    • Building off the success of the Buffalo Bills playoff game rapid testing, the state is creating a network of rapid testing sites. 
       
  3. Manage the Economic Crisis
    • The state expects federal government to provide $15 billion to address New York's revenue losses; repeal the harmful provisions of SALT; and permanently expand the federal match to the Medicaid program.  
    • The Governor expect basic fairness and economic injury to be resolved. 
       
  4. Invest in the Future
    • Legalize adult-use cannabis – making NYS the 16th state to do so.  
    • State sponsored mobile sports betting.  
    • Increase broadband affordability by requiring third-party providers to develop a $15 high speed internet plan for low income households.
       
  5. Transition to Green Energy
     
  6. Understand the Long-Term Effects of COVID
     
  7. Address systemic Injustice
    • The Governor will advance legislation which prohibit penalties and late charges on past rent.  
    • The Governor will expand the Medicaid program by eliminating healthcare premiums for 400,000 more lower income individuals. 
    • The Governor will propose fully funding the liberty defense project for undocumented individuals.  
    • Election reforms will be advanced that will mandate boards of elections perform accurate and timely complete counts of elections.  
    • The Governor will outline a proposal to convert vacant commercial space to affordable housing.  
 
Immediately following the speech, Ryan Gregoire and Dave Lucas of our Legislative Team sat down to discuss their reaction to the first day of the State of the State. Watch the video here.

 


Transcript:
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Hello everyone, my name is Ryan Gregoire and I am your Association's Legislative Director. I am joined by my colleague Dave Lucas today, NYSAC's Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Finance.

We're bringing to you a special NYSAC News video update discussing the State of the State. Today is Monday January 11th, Governor Cuomo has announced a four-part series of the State of the State this year, whish is a little different than the historic years, and they're all being done in this virtual environment that we're all living in. 

He presented today's message, Dave in the war room of the New York State Capitol building, it's a pretty significant venue within our capitol. There's a lot of historic elements there, it really served as a nice backdrop to his speech overall.

For our listeners – the speech was void of any large-scale, new, earth-shattering priorities. What the governor was really focused on today was outlining a seven-point plan on how to set the State up to get us through this COVID-19 pandemic, and really focus on rebuilding New York State for the future. 

So, the seven-point plan - just briefly – talked about defeating the COVID-19 virus, vaccinating all New Yorkers, managing the short-term economic crisis the State is facing, investing in our future, seizing the opportunity to make New York shift to a green economy, understanding long term effects of COVID, and addressing systemic injustices.

So, again, with me I've got Dave Lucas. We just wanted to have an iterative conversation, give everyone an update on what the Governor covered today, and we'll be providing you with more updates later this week as more initiatives and more details on the State of the State come out. 
With that, Dave, what did you think of the Governor's plan? 
 
 
DAVE LUCAS
I do have to give the Governor credit for thinking big, he always tends to think very big in his proposals. As a typical State of the State it does lack a lot of details, so it's really hard to tell how the thing's gonna get implemented as we go. 

Something I did find in it just from my own vantage point of having worked in Washington for almost 15 years – it has a lot of reliance on the federal government to do something here to help New York State. He wanted $15 billion to address the short-term fiscal consequences that have damaged our economy as we responded to COVID. He's potentially looking for the repeal of SALT, that's the state and local tax deduction that was enacted in December of 2017. And we need to put this into perspective- that is an $80 billion a year cost to the federal government to repeal SALT.
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Wow, wow.
 
DAVE LUCAS
Over the multiple years of the tax cut, we're talking $600-700 billion – that's not a small thing to be asking the federal government to do. We were adversely impacted, but these are very big proposals.

Also, he gave a little reference to federal medical assistance percentage. The federal government pays a portion of Medicaid, and we do have the lowest rate in the country of reimbursement rates, along with probably eight or ten other states, and they tend to be wealthier states. The more income you have in a state, the lower your match is from the federal government. 
 
Those are all really big things that he talked about as managing in the short-term economic crisis. 
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Yeah.
 
DAVE LUCAS
So, we really need to see the details of the proposals to figure out, you know, what is this budget really going to look like if this money doesn't come through. I mean, he painted a pretty devastating picture and it's very concerning as the counties having to implement much of this initiative.
But he is definitely thinking big here – infrastructure, very positive
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Yeah.
 
DAVE LUCAS
Some of the other things – if you want to talk about the transportation pieces and some of the things we've been looking for. We've been promoting broadband for a long time in our counties.
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Sure
 
 
DAVE LUCAS
In addition to cellular.
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Yeah, and it's interesting that you bring up FMAP - the enhanced federal Medicaid match from the federal government – and the direct, unrestricted aid for the state and county governments. This is something that NYSAC and the counties across the state are in complete alignment with our governor on. We have been in lock-step over the last nine months, Dave, advocating for and working with Senator Schumer , and we should give some credit to Senator Schumer for getting the 6.2% increase to FMAP is part of an earlier version of the coronavirus relief package back in March of last year. 

But, you know, this is something that we're going to continue to fight for at the federal level, and you just talked briefly about transportation issues – that was another key item the governor highlighted today. 

He talked about making investments in transportation and infrastructure - he highlighted broadband as one of those categories. Certainly, we've been working to advance broadband employment across the state. Last year we really put on a strong advocacy push to get cellular expansion, particularly in our rural and more difficult to serve areas. 

So, I think speaking for the NYSAC team, we're definitely interested in seeing what that's going to look like – as you mentioned, the devil's in the details – but it's really going to be important to see what that looks like going into the future here.
What about the Governor's note of investing in our future, Dave? And he talked about, you know, adult-use cannabis legalization and mobile sports gaming revenue. What's the Association's positions on those two policies? How do we fit into the mix on that?
 
DAVE LUCAS
Yeah, you know, we do run the county public health departments and we do a lot with substance abuse and mental health counseling for people that are struggling with addictions, and I think as a body we've never really had an official position on, you know, should we be legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use or not.
 
RYAN GREGOIRE
Right.
 
DAVE LUCAS
Our issue has always been – If you do this, we need to make sure that there's resources in the community and for the counties to support this. Which would include, you know, providing some sort of revenue stream back to the counties where the product is being sold to help address these issues, and also the areas of the state where we might be cultivating the product, that there should be some sort of resources for those communities. 
I think when you look it at the end of the day, you're not going to have -probably will not have a marijuana dispensary in every single county in the state, because the volume just isn't there. It's going to be concentrated in the urban areas. So, you don't want to have this disparity where it's only benefitting or there's only enough resources in the area where the product is sold, knowing full well that whoever buys it is going to go back to their home and use it. 
So, that's sort of been our position and it's similar even with online sports betting. We've been advocating for that for a while. There's been some arguments or discussions with the Governor's office on whether that's even legal under the constitution, and he seems to be coming around now to say ‘Yes, possibly it is, and maybe that's something we'll do at the state sponsored level.' 

Which, I don't really understand what that means, either. It's something, again, where we need more details on these proposals. But then again, there we have local off-track betting facilities that provide a revenue stream to counties which could be impacted from these proposals.

The other thing I found in there too that was interesting is, you know, his ambitions on infrastructure are always really impressive. The idea of – when I worked at Washington I spent time with Senator Moynihan and I remember him talking about ‘We gotta get rid of Penn Station because it's just an underground hell-hole,' [laughs] that it was not very impressive and it wasn't a good first impression for people coming to New York City, and he was talking about turning the Farley post office into the new Penn Station. And it took almost 30 years for that to happen, and this governor kind of took the initiative and you know everybody said, ‘it can't be done,' and ‘we'll never get the money,' and they got it done. 

And I was just reading today that one of his other proposals is to connect the skyway directly into Moynihan train station, and I think that's just a cool idea. Where it's recreational space and it'll flow right into the central part of the city and people can come and go. It'll be easy to access it from different parts of Manhattan. 

So, it's very bold vision on that front and it's just a question of where do the resources come for this. Is the federal government going to have to be a part of the funding for these giant infrastructure projects if we can't do it on our own. But that'll be a key issue – I did like a lot of the green economy stuff as well, I know you've been working on some things related to electric charging stations and electric vehicles, even with your time in the county. I know that you were interested in purchasing cars that were electric for your fleet. 

I think it's good to be on the forefront of those types of industries, because they will be jobs for the future.

RYAN GREGOIRE
Sure. Well, I think for our listeners, you've heard from Dave and myself- there's still a lot of unanswered questions out there. We have to identify the resources to implement these policies. We have to listen to what the Governor is going to be outlining over the next couple of days.

This is, again, part-one of a four-part series for the 2021 State of the State. And, this has been brought to you by the NYSAC News video update. Looking forward to seeing everyone again in the near future and thank you very much – have a great day.
 
 
DAVE LUCAS
Be safe!
 

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