WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo dreamed big on Tuesday during his State of the State speech at SUNY Purchase.
The resident of New Castle proposed a 750-mile trailway linking New York City to Buffalo, Albany and Canada. The $200 million statewide project includes $26 million this year in the mid-Hudson Valley region. "We want to do something that will be a legacy project," Cuomo said. "I think it's a winner."
Guomo repeated his call for free tuition for low- and middle-income students attending SUNY and CUNY colleges, welcomed with a standing ovation.
Guomo praised the on-time construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, while proposing a $150 million transportation hub project to improve bridges and roadways near Routes 17 and 32 in the Town of Woodbury in Orange County.
He proposed a law ordering county executives to bring other local officials together to reduce the size and duplication of local governments. Westchester County alone has 425 local governments, Cuomo said, led by 790 elected officials. "We cannot afford it any longer," he said. "It is insanity."
Outside, protesters expressed their opposition to the plan to subsidize failing Upstate electric power plants at a cost of up to $10 billion.
All of the governor's latest State-of-the-State proposals are highlighted online by clicking here:
Other announcements, made public last week, include a doubling of the state child care tax credit, $2 billion to improve the state's infrastructure for clean drinking water and $10 billion to upgrade JFK airport, Penn Station and other mass transit links.
State Assemblyman Steve Otis, D-Rye, praised Cuomo's proposal to upgrade the state's infrastructure, including water and sewage treatment plants. "This is tremendous news," Otis said Tuesday. " The Governor’s extraordinary commitment will ensure that New York continues to lead the nation in clean water infrastructure and addresses the needs of local governments, taxpayers and public health.”
The governor's critics said his speeches are full of more unfunded mandates that most New Yorkers cannot afford.
Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New Yor, said: “Ever the showman, the governor apparently continues to think he’s some combination of Robert Moses, FDR, and Santa Claus. The sad fact is that in most of New York, unemployment is up, savings rates are down, and job growth is weak to nonexistent. Residents continue to flee the state at the highest rate in the nation. Giveaway schemes to bribe private companies to create jobs aren’t working."
Cuomo said that when Franklin D. Roosevelt was New York's governor, FDR cited the tax burden created by excessive local government. Cuomo promised to change that by ordering county executives to bring all local governments together to reduce duplication and share services "like dump trucks" and "purchasing police cars." Cuomo said the mandate should be put to a vote of local voters in November. "It's about time people have a say in how their money is spent," he said.
The speech at SUNY Purchase marked Cuomo's third of six state of state addresses across the state. The governor's remaining schedule of speeches is:
- Tuesday afternoon at Farmingdale State College on Long Island
- Wednesday, 10 a.m.: University at Albany Performing Arts Center
- Wednesday, 1 p.m.: Carrier Theater in Syracuse