ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR)- Governor Andrew Cuomo continued to reveal his 2021 agenda in the State of the State address Tuesday. The Governor largely talked about the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a looming $15 billion gap in the state’s budget on Monday.
On Tuesday, once again speaking from the War Room at the Capitol, he addressed bringing arts and entertainment back into cities. He said the state must adjust to a post-COVID economy and look for opportunities to rebuild.
Monday Governor Cuomo said the COVID-19 pandemic was a war. He said the vaccine was the weapon that would win the war on Tuesday but said New York could not wait to get people back in restaurants and entertainment venues.
He also spoke specifically on the Buffalo Bills model to get fans into the stands. Fans were tested prior to the game using a rapid test. They had to test negative for COVID-19 before being allowed into the stadium. Contact tracing was then conducted after the game.
Results from rapid testing are available in approximately 15 minutes. The state is going to open hundreds of rapid testing sites statewide. The Governor said rapid testing could be used to speed up the return of the arts. “We must bring culture and the arts back to life,” he said.
Governor Cuomo also discussed more details surrounding his plan for affordable and accessible broadband across the state. One in five households cannot afford broadband internet access. The governor said the state was going to mandate internet companies to provide internet access to low-income families for $15 a month. He said a state fund would be set up to bring broadband access to families who cannot afford the $15 monthly fee.
Monday, he said the Federal Government needs to be held accountable for its role in the spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation. He said there was a lack of leadership out of Washington and said he expected financial assistance not just for New York but also for other states.
In his 2020 State of the State the Governor said it pays more in taxes to Washington than it gets back, he again mentioned this Monday calling it “political extortion”. New Yorkers are suffering and “tired of being abused”. He said the state’s residents could not be asked to pay for the Federal Government’s incompetence.
He made mention of the state’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana and online sports betting as a way to recoup tax revenue. He also talked about racial disparities and public safety. Public safety organizations throughout New York have until April to submit plans to the state in order to receive state funding.
Defeating COVID-19 and vaccinating all New Yorkers were part of Governor Cuomo’s seven-point plan. The state receives 300,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Federal Government. At that rate, it would take 14 weeks to vaccinate all those eligible according to the state’s plan in groups 1a and 1b. The Governor said Washington needs to make more doses available.
Part of the Governor’s plan to increasingly move the state towards green energy includes the creation of jobs. He said the state would use post-COVID economic opportunities to rebuild infrastructures like rail, air travel, and affordable housing.
Governor Cuomo briefly talked about election reform and the expansion of telehealth. The Governor is seeking to make voting easier by permanently expanding “no excuse” absentee ballots and updating telehealth regulations to increase access.
As of Tuesday, the Governor has yet to address commercial and private evictions, utility disconnections during emergencies, greater access to SUNY and CUNY resources for nurses, modernizing the office of professional medical conduct, domestic violence and gender-based violence, and pedestrian access to Moynihan Train Hall which are all part of his 2021 State of the State agenda.