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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at the New York State Association of Counties Legislative Conference Dinner

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Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the New York State Association of Counties Legislative Conference dinner. 

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.     

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AUDIO of the event is available here.     

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.  

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks are available below:  

Good evening friends. Once a county official, always a county official, so I feel right at home with all of you. And I’ve been coming here for so many years and listening to your frustration and the sense that maybe your voices weren’t being heard the way they should. So, as you’ve heard in my State of the State, it’s a whole new era for New York and you, my friends, are part of that. And I’m real excited to be here.     

First of all, to Martha Sauerbrey, I’ve been in your county many times and I want to thank you for your advocacy on behalf of your county, but also this organization. It is a very impactful organization, one that I listen to closely. We gathered at the Executive Mansion when I had been on the job maybe six weeks, because I wanted you to be there right with me to tell me what was on your mind. You have a direct relationship with the people of our important counties and so thank you.   

Also, our host today is Albany County Executive Dan McCoy who’s always welcomed me. Now, I always say this. When people say they’re mad at Albany, they’re not mad at you, Dan, okay? And I say that to the mayor too, okay. So it’s not about you, don’t take it personal. But we have been to so many events together, talking about expanding vaccinations and going to testing sites and all the work that you’ve done. So it’s great to see you here as well.   

My hometown County Executive Mark Poloncarz is here. Let me give him a round of applause. Mark Poloncarz, Erie County. I also want to acknowledge, this is a reminder that Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus will be deploying over to fight for freedom on behalf of our nation in defense of the Ukrainian people, so thank you, thank you.     

And of course, the one and only Steve Acquario, who I actually get the nicest letters from now. It’s amazing. Didn’t used to see those letters so much, Steve, now it’s dripping, they’re like love letters. Oh, we love your budget. We love this. We love this. So that’s a difference, a little different now, but keep it going, keep it going, Steve.    

Also, I have to recognize my dream team. When I first took office August 24th, I took residence in the Executive Mansion. On the mantle is a picture of FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And I was always thinking about the fact that he took office as governor at a time of great turmoil, the crash of ’29, and then heading off to the White House to help our nation’s recovery.    

But what he did at the state level really transformed, not just New York, but our nation, because he had people like Frances Perkins, true visionaries. And I said, we’re in a pandemic, we’re in a crisis. I want my own Frances Perkins. And so, I have assembled an incredible team of individuals who are so dedicated to public service.    

And please join me as I recognize our Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez is here, doing incredible work. If you have DRI applications, be really nice to Robert and I’ll see you at many of those announcements. And I told the Lieutenant Governor, I’m going to keep doing the fun announcements, okay, I’m not giving that up.   

And Jackie Bray, our Commissioner of DHSES, I have been in the trenches with her. You know, when you realize when you’re dealing with a blizzard like every single weekend for the entire winter, it’s really nice to have someone at your side who knows operations, this military style woman, she’s real tough out there. But she was also the Chief of Staff to the National Weather Service, so I felt I had an inside track, that she knew more than any of us, analyzing the trends, so Jackie Bray, it’s great to have you.  

Marie Therese Dominguez – again, another extraordinary individual who was really put to the test, as many of the administration members were during the pandemic, using the resources of the DOT to help deliver goods and PPE and just the incredible work you did, then to help us during our snowstorms. And also, as I said, we’re coming after the potholes. My budget has a billion dollars, billion dollars to take on potholes. And Marie, she said she’s going to personally fill every single one of them and I’m going to be at her side to make sure it gets done.     

And my friend for a long time from Buffalo, Mark Schroeder, our Commissioner of DMV, I want to thank him as wellAnd Mark always has the most incredible St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. And so, I look forward to seeing you as we celebrate. I’ll be in New York City, but also Buffalo as well.   

And Basil Seggos, when you talk about protecting our environment and our future for our grandchildren, this is the individual who is the keeper of that flame, to make sure that we continue to do everything we can at the state level today to make sure that there is a better outcome in the future. So, Basil Seggos, let’s give him a round of applause.  

And not only have I been to every one of your counties many times every single year – and I just want to point out that was all by car. I drove to all your counties. Some people fly to the counties, I just want to say I drove. 370,000 miles. But,I’ve also been to every single one of the state parks and they are extraordinary jewels and I want to thank our Commissioner of Parks, Erik Kulleseid for all he has done to continue to protect that legacy.  

So, we got rid of the mask restrictions, okay, because New Yorkers did what they were asked to do. I was in the trenches with the Western New Yorkers – I’m looking at County Executive PJ Wendel here, he’s nodding his head. He looks happier than I used to see him. And the representatives from Niagara County, Erie County, of course. Chautauqua County, Allegany, Cattaraugus. 

I worked closely in the trenches to help during the pandemic and I understood how important it was that we have a relationship with the county health departments, a relationship that was not utilized the way it should have been. And I will stand here and tell you going forward, whether it’s a pandemic or any other healthcare crisis, we want to utilize your incredible team members who are out there on the front lines during the pandemic. So please, on behalf of all of us in state government, thank your county health departments for all they did during this pandemic, let’s give them a round of applause. They truly helped us get through this.   

And as a result, no more mask or vax restrictions for our businesses that were in place for two months, our children were able to see their beautiful faces. I feel very secure about this now, but I’m watching the numbers, just so you know, I’m still obsessed about watching the numbers, but we’re seeing that we have really truly come through this. I want to thank every one of you for being amazing partners during this crisis. It is still hard to believe it just started two years ago this month and so I want to recognize that. We’re continuing to watch it. We’re going to probably be closing down some of our facilities, but we’ll give some announcements on that soon.  

But let’s talk about you and my budget. I know you’ve analyzed it and I know you’re also watching what the one house bills are, they have an opportunity to weigh in and we sit down at the table and start working out the details. And sowithin a few weeks, we’re working very hard to get it done by the end of the month and to give you the certainty. And why that’s so important to me, as a local official I remember trying to do our town budgeting and we would not know whether there was any aid at all coming from the state sometimes until June, July, August.  

For those of you who are newer members, this is how life was. And so I know how important it is that you have the certainty. Our school districts, our counties, our towns, our villages, that they know what the state is going to do. So that is why I’m going to continue working with my partners in the Assembly and the Senate to be on time or very close to on time, just to give our local governments the certainty they need.   

Also, there have been times when county governments were sort of. Well, we won’t go into details, but we’re going to return the AIM money to you. I just want to get that out there. The $59 million using state funds, we’ll use state funds instead of local sales tax. I know you’ve asked for this a long time, I’ve heard about it for a long time, and I’m really happy to be able to deliver that.  

We’re going to continue investing in the CHIPs program. $538 million and a hundred million dollars for the state touring roots. The $150 million for Pave New York. And I’m telling you, I hope you relaxing tonight, Commissioner, because you’re going to be so busy with all these projects in additional $500 million to ensure that we have clean drinking water and water infrastructure.    

So, I know that as a former local official we’re about the only people who get real excited about storm sewers and water lines, what’s happening with the stuff that nobody else sees. But we obsess about this because we know that’s one of our responsibilities, to ensure that it all functions so people don’t have to think about water lines, sewer lines, infrastructure, and the roads and bridges that have been neglected for so, so long. We’re going to go at them and help you have the resources and we’ll partner with you to get that done. 

And I also want to thank the federal government for allowing us this unique opportunity with the support they’ve given us, with President Biden and Senator Schumer as the Majority Leader. Do not take for granted how influential he is and how powerful he is in directing money back to our state, as well as the people who voted for the infrastructure bill, whenever you see them, thank them, because they’ve given us the opportunity to do what we should have been doing for a very long time. Also, in addition to infrastructure funding, we’re going to keep funding our programs, our social programs. 

We’re going to take as much as much of the burden off of you as we can. And that’s something I really believe in. Alsosomething like cybersecurity. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most of you don’t feel that you have the most robust, highly technical responses to cybersecurity. Am I right about that? Okay. Let’s help you out. This is something because we’re interconnected: You sustain an attack on your system, either through the DMV or Real Property Services, there’s ways that you are connected to the State system. So we also have a motive to make sure that you’re protected as well. So I opened up a cybersecurity facility in New York City.  

Then I said, let’s give money to the local county governments so they can help build their infrastructure as well to protect against attacks, especially in this vulnerable time, when we don’t know what the Russians are going to be up to. We know that they’re already attacking resources and facilities around the world, and it could be coming our way as well, as we have critical infrastructure in our own state, power systems, the grid, we know our vulnerabilities. And I want you to know that we’re going to continue partnering with that as well.  

Also money for county public health. As we come through this pandemic, we’re going to have to help our county hospitals, and help people rebuild. Counties that were really denied services for a long time, that helped their revenues. We have to help our hospitals. We have to rebuild the healthcare system overall. That’s why I put $10 billion on the table, because we saw that there were just not enough nurses and healthcare aides to help during this pandemic. And this was a problem even before the pandemic.  

So we’re going to help recruit and train and give them resources and help with their tuition and do whatever we can, so never again are we so vulnerable that we’re desperately looking for workers and where I had to send in the National Guard to places all over the state, just to give some relief to those overworked healthcare workers in hospitals, as well as a nursing home. So there’s a lot of lessons we learned from this, and next time, and pray there’s not a next time, but we have a lot of lessons that we’ve learned from this. And I want to make sure that we’re putting in the money now so we don’t look back and say, “We did not seize the opportunity to make sure that we are never again vulnerable.”  

I have a whole lot of other things to talk to you about, but I want you to enjoy each other’s company. I hope that you believe that this is a budget that would help you do your jobs. That’s what I want to do, is make your lives easier because you have a critically important function, whether you’re one of our larger counties or our tiniest counties who often feel they’re overlooked. I’m the mother of a very large family. I have 62 counties, and I have to love them all equally, okay? I can’t play favorites. And so, even the smallest one needs to know that we’re paying attention to rural healthcare issues, and broadband, and making sure that there’s affordable housing in every corner of this state, and our larger areas that have crime issues and anxiety over what’s going on in our streets, and their larger cities. We understand all this. And I just want you to leave here tonight and know that yes, you have a true friend in the Governor’s office. I’ve lived, I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve lived your lives. 

I know that people look to you for leadership, especially during these tough, tough times.  And we will get through, we are getting through this pandemic, we’ll have a strong economic recovery, and in light of what’s happening across the world with Russia’s and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, we are going to see pressures at the pump, increase in prices. We’re going to see inflation continue to go up. So our residents who’ve been through so much, have to steel themselves for the next phase of what’s to come. But they should go to bed at night, knowing securely that they have leaders at the county level and leaders at their state level who have their backs, we will help them get through this. 

We will help the state recover and be stronger than ever before. I thank you for your friendship. Enjoy your fellowship. Look forward to seeing you again soon. 



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