Cuomo delivers very different State of the State

WWNY Cuomo delivers very different State of the State

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s a different State of the State address that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is delivering this year.

He delivered the first of what will be several parts of his address Monday. That portion lasted a little over 45 minutes.

“In normal times, a governor’s State of the State address is issued on one day, in one presentation,” he said, “but these are no ordinary times and our plan is more complex and detailed.”

Monday’s address was an overview, he said. He plans to detail “specific action plans” in addresses “in the coming days.”

Normally, the address is delivered at the Albany Conference Center before an audience of thousands made up of state lawmakers, officials, and journalists.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor delivered his address virtually in what’s known as the War Room at the state Capitol.

Much of his focus was on COVID-19, how the state handles the current crisis and how it deals with the aftermath.

“The question to be answered is what will we make of this moment? Is it positive or is it negative? Do we move forward or do we move backward?”

The governor outlined a seven-point plan:

- Bringing COVID under control

- Vaccinating enough New Yorkers to establish “herd immunity”

- Dealing with a short-term economic crisis caused by the pandemic -- a record $15 billion deficit

- Planning the state’s economic resurgence while the pandemic still rages - “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine reaches critical mass.”

- Seizing the opportunity to make New York the leader in the shift to green energy

- Being first to anticipate how COVID will transform society and the economy

- Addressing systemic injustice

He’s been releasing some of the proposals he hopes make it into next year’s state budget, most notably legalized recreational marijuana and online sports betting.

The governor says both will boost state revenues.

He’s also announced proposals to:

- Bolster protections for residential and commercial tenants

- Modernize the Office of Professional Medical Conduct

The following is a statement from Senator Patty Ritchie (R. - 46th District):

Today, in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, we heard firsthand his plans for helping New York rebound in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While the Governor and I may disagree on how we overcome the obstacles presented by COVID-19, I do share his optimism for turning the challenges we currently face into opportunities that will create a stronger, more resilient New York State.

For nearly a year now, we have suffered the devastating effects of COVID-19—an invisible enemy that has taken lives, shuttered businesses and turned our world upside down. Putting an end to this nightmare depends on the efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. As New York State continues to roll out its vaccination plan, a number of questions remain. What can be done to inoculate people more quickly? When will those with underlying conditions be able to access the vaccine? In addition, perhaps most importantly, how does the vaccination rate correlate with the reopening of our state? These, along with many other questions, need to be answered to ensure we get New York back on track as quickly as possible.

As the Governor said today, “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high.” Unfortunately, this line of thinking is too little too late for the many businesses that have been forced to close permanently as a result of onerous, inconsistent regulations handed down by New York State. Reopening and helping our small businesses rebound must be our top priorities in 2021. If we can allow nearly 7,000 people to watch the Buffalo Bills in person, certainly we can find ways to allow more businesses to safely and responsibly reopen.

Just as small businesses are struggling financially, so too is our state. And while there were issues leading up to the pandemic, the coronavirus and its side effects have laid bare the very dire situation we face. When it comes to closing the gap, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of already struggling taxpayers. Instead, we have to look for new ways to generate revenue and cut costs. These efforts also need to be our focus in the coming months.

These challenges are just the tip of the iceberg. From strengthening our health care system to ensuring that broadband is truly available to all, the list of issues we face is long. In the months to come, I am committed to working alongside my colleagues to see they are addressed and that our state emerges stronger than ever.

Senator Joseph Griffo (R. - 47th District) issued this statement:

“The Governor’s words today are a contradiction at best if he does not see that things are worse now than they were in the spring relative to COVID-19. While our state may have been an ambushed by the virus last year, we are still in the middle of a dark night. Despite our efforts, the virus continues to launch a deadly assault stronger and more sustained than before. We see this in diminished resources, capacity, medicine, supplies and equipment at the state’s hospitals and health care facilities. Case numbers, hospitalization rates and deaths are all worse today than in the spring, businesses continue to struggle and the lifestyles of New Yorkers have been altered significantly.

While I respect and appreciate the efforts of all those who have stepped up to combat this invisible enemy, it is time to reassess and readdress our approach and effort. We must ensure that hospitals have the necessary supplies, added capacity, staff and resources needed to accept patients and treat them now. COVID-19 testing must be expanded and made easier and more affordable. The state’s vaccine distribution program is in disarray and the rollout is failing. It must be immediately improved and conducted in accordance with established medical and scientific protocols with no shortcuts due to a lack of supplies. New Yorkers need to know when they are eligible and where they can go to get the vaccine easily.

There is no halftime in this deadly game, despite what the Governor’s book might say, and we cannot afford to let our guard down. We must do better now.”

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