Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cuomo calls for significant investment in infrastructure

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo just wrapped up his State of the State speech and budget presentation.

The address was something of a shotgun blast of proposals: a high-level overview that touched on everything from tourism promotions to criminal justice reforms. He appealed to the image many New Yorkers’ have of themselves: that we persevere through tough times and look out for each other; that we find a way to do what others fail to do. 

Some of the initiatives have roots in Congressional inaction, or at least that's how Cuomo frames them. The big one is his plan for $100 billion in infrastructure investment, much of which will be directed to mass transit, railroad, and airport improvements in New York City and Long Island.

But Cuomo also proposed $22 billion for Upstate infrastructure projects, including a $200 million competition to improve Upstate airports; a $1 billion fund for Thruway maintenance and operations; a toll freeze for Thruway users through 2020; $250 million for municipal water and sewer system improvements; and $20 billion for Upstate road and bridge projects. 

Cuomo also laid out an agenda to address climate change by boosting renewable energy in New York. The state's in the process of setting a requirement for utilities to get 50 percent of the electricity used by their consumers from renewable sources by 2030. Cuomo wants all SUNY schools to get their electricity entirely from renewables by 2020, and he wants the state to spent $15 million on clean energy job training programs. During the speech, Cuomo announced that the state will eliminate coal-powered plants by 2020; the state only has a handful of coal plants still open.

Cuomo ran through several other proposals, including:

• Increasing the state's Environmental Protection Fund, which pays for land preservation, water quality protection, and recycling projects, to $300 million;
• Increasing education funding by $2.1 billion, making the total $25 billion in the 2016-17 budget;
• Providing $100 million for districts to transform failing schools into "comprehensive, holistic, community schools";
• Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour;
• Limiting outside income for state legislators, closing campaign finance loopholes, implementing a public campaign finance system, and making public officials ineligible for state pensions when they are convicted of crimes against taxpayers.

Cuomo's full agenda, in book form, is available here.

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