ALBANY — Questions remained surrounding New York’s record-breaking $15 billion budget deficit Monday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State address, which is typically centered around measures for the state’s upcoming budget negotiations.
Cuomo delivered his 11th State of the State address virtually late Monday morning from the War Room inside the state Capitol in Albany. The annual speech is traditionally attended by thousands of people in Convention Center inside the Empire State Plaza, but was virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The War Room is fitting because we are at war — a war that began early last year when we were ambushed by the COVID virus and a war that continues today,” Cuomo said. “...As our forebearers before us, we will win this war and we will be the stronger for it.”
Monday’s seven-point speech included a general outline to defeat COVID-19 this year, vaccinate all New Yorkers, address the state’s economic crisis, invest in the future by jump starting the economy with infrastructure projects, a focus on bolstering the state’s green-energy initiatives, understanding the long-term effects of COVID and addressing the state and nation’s systemic racism and injustices.
Cuomo and his top aides have pushed for additional, direct federal coronavirus aid to U.S. states and local governments since late last spring to help offset the state’s $15 billion revenue shortfall, expected to increase to more than $31 billion over two years.
Many questions remain surrounding the state’s economic and other affairs as officials wait to find out how much federal assistance Congress will pass for states and localities under Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
“This next year, we will see economies realign and reset around the world,” Cuomo said. “We see the risk and the peril, but we also see the promise and the potential. 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? Is America, is New York stronger or weaker in the post-COVID world?”
The governor will deliver three additional State of the State speeches in the coming days, but did not provide details about when. The State of the State is usually one speech.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Cuomo’s three daughters were in attendance for the speech, sitting socially distanced. Attorney General Letitia James, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx; Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers; Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski; and Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda; attended the speech virtually on Zoom.
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