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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Outlines $172.5 Million in New State Funding for Transformative Projects in the Finger Lakes Region

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Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul outlined $172.5 million in new state investment for several transformative projects in the Finger Lakes region be funded by her $216 billion FY2023 budget proposal. The Governor will commit $100 million from the New York State Department of Transportation’s five-year capital plan toward the Inner Loop North project to complete the infill of the sunken highway that has cut off downtown Rochester from its surrounding neighborhoods. Monroe County’s Seneca Park Zoo has been undergoing a major overhaul, and an additional $42.5 million would be used to finish implementing visitor experience enhancements at the area’s second biggest tourist attraction. An additional $10 million for a total of $12.5 million from the State would be used to support needed upgrades to Frontier Field in Rochester, home to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, to ensure the stadium will meet required Major League Baseball standards. The Governor outlined her vision today at an event held at Monroe Community College’s downtown campus in Rochester. More information can be found here.

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 Governor’s remarks is available here.

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

PRESENTATION SLIDES from the event are available here.

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

Thank you. Vice President Gretchen Wood, thank you for welcoming us here today. I appreciate everyone’s support. How about that record-breaking weather yesterday? 73 degrees, I’ll take that in March any day. A sign of great things happening here in upstate New York. But I do want to acknowledge some of the people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with for many years.

And being at MCC is really significant for me. It was a decade ago when I sat down with the former president, Anne Kress, and we talked about the needs of this community and focused on the fact that they were going to be so many more jobs and opportunities coming. But we would need to have a very intentional strategy to ensure that they had the workforce that met their needs.

And so I had a chance to go out and see the advanced technology center, automotive tech center. In fact, I have a piece of welded material from MCC students. But as a member of Congress, I still have that in my office today. So I want to thank MCC for being at the forefront of creating opportunities for thousands of students to position them into the jobs that are here today. So to everyone part of MCC, I thank you for what you are doing, transforming the lives of all your students and being such a significant player in the Finger Lakes community.

Also, we have some of our elected officials here today. The Dean of the delegation, Harry Bronson, an assembly member I’ve worked very closely with. Harry, where are you, Harry? I’m looking right at you. Assembly member Sarah Clark, assembly member Jen Lunsford. Assembly members, I had a chance to work closely with them, very close coming up to the budget. Remember, same team. You want to be with the governor. Same thing as my senators. Samra Brouk and Jeremy Cooney. Let’s do a lot of good things together.

And of course, our great Mayor who I have a chance to sit down with after this, to talk about the needs of the community, as we deal with the crisis related to gun violence. And I’m really proud that we’ve been able to embed our state police with you here today. We have more state police here to assist your efforts to protect the streets and the people of this great community. And so I want to thank you for your leadership.

And of course, Adam Bell, who I worked with for what feels like decades. But we’ve done a lot of projects together, but I will always say that part of your legacy is how you got us through this pandemic. What you did was extraordinary. And it is great to say, through, in the past tense. Because the last time we were together, I did a report here on COVID early in January, and we were heading into a very dark time. In fact, our numbers had just about hit our peak of 23 percent infection rate statewide. So thank you for being on the forefront of everything you did there.

And also your partner in this, Bob Duffy who’s has many roles. But former Lieutenant Governor, the head of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, but would you did during the pandemic as well. We had daily calls. I talked to all of you more than I talked to my husband, but we needed to do that. We really focused on bringing back the Western New York and the Finger Lakes region. So thank you.

And also to Vinny Esposito, who’s masterful at making sure that we know the projects that are important, that are meritorious. So if you want to get something done, get that guy’s phone number and just call him as often as you like. So thank, thank you, Vinny.

Also, I do want to recognize that we have the leaders of several local Ukrainian American organizations, and can you raise your hands please. I want to thank you for reminding all of us that we are part of one family. And I had a chance to visit members of the Ukrainian community when I was a member of Congress a decade ago. And I realized how vibrant it was and it still is. This is the largest Ukrainian population per capita in the country, I believe.

And so that is significant over 40,000 individuals here who are really making a significant contributions, but also at this time when the Homeland is under attack by dictators and people who want to just subjugate the great people of this country. We will not let that happen. We will continue to stand with all of you as I’ve sped since the beginning.

Our arms are open up to all the refugees. I’ve been on speed dial with the White House and the State Department to say, this is the land of the Statue of Liberty and a place with the largest Ukrainian American population in America. Therefore, we want to welcome them, and embrace them, and help them restore that sense of dignity that is under siege right now as well. We want them to go back home once their country is resumed under the Ukrainian power, but until then make this your home. We will take care of you.

And we’ve talked to many social services organizations to say, how are we going to do this? So I really truly hope that before long we’ll be able to welcome them here and know that 20 million New Yorkers stand with all of you during this time of great pain and sorrow. So I want to recognize all of you as well.

I think it’s no secret that I know Rochester very well. Not just having represented this area as a member of Congress, but just as growing up in upstate New York and Western New York. I mean, this is home to me. And I have seen a transformation in this community. You know, I’m from Buffalo. When we were in Buffalo, the blue-collar town, grandpa worked at the steel plant, dad worked at the steel plant. You know, we all were the blue collars. And then we all knew about Rochester being the white collar community.

And they’re kind of like, you know, they have really nice white collars. That’s why I wore my white shirt today. You know, we had Bausch and Lomb and Xerox and Eastman Kodak. I mean really, just the great innovators of not just this area, but of our nation in the world. The ingeniousness of the people who came from here in the workforce that they’re able to find and to just continue to manufacture and create the technologies of the future.

And that’s just not a legacy that is the present, and that is also the future. So I’m really proud to be back in Rochester and happy to come back here once again. But I also, you know, we did see some decline. We saw what happened to Buffalo, and then we thought that the white-collar jobs would always be there forever. We also saw the hit because of foreign competition, companies leaving, people going to the Sunbelt, a lot of reasons.

We sort of lost that mojo that was so a part of our DNA for a long time here in upstate New York. But we also know we can get it back. And that’s what I’ve seen over the last number of years as the chair of the Regional Economic Development Councils. I’ve been to more groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings than anybody on this planet. But most of them have been in this area and I want to thank everyone who’s been part of the REDC. Bob’s been involved with that. To bring again, the ideas to us that we can make sure that they’re invested in.

Including the Forward Center, part of the URI initiative, which I just had a chance to tour. I’ll be back for a ribbon cutting in May, mark your calendars. Some beautiful day in May. Maybe we’ll hit 73 degrees again, like we did yesterday. And I want to come back to celebrate. Again, the brilliance behind this idea. That you talk to the local employers, you engage them, you find out what skills they’re looking for. Not today, today’s already history. What skills they’re going to need in their workforce three to five years down the road. That’s always the conversation I have when I gather here with business leaders and people from MCC and everywhere else, our educational institutions, when I was in Congress. And now I see how important it is.

So we are going to see the fruition of that concept. And they’re going to be thousands of students who come to these doors, marching right into good paying jobs. So that’s good news for the employers, but also changing the lives of students. So, we’re going to continue focusing on workforce development as well.

I also want to talk about some of the specific projects, when I was here back in September I think it was. We did the announcement about Constellation Brands. Wow. That was significant. To know that this globally renowned company is so confident about the future of downtown Rochester, that they’re bringing their headquarters and bringing the vitality of their workforce, and the whole ecosystem of people that are going to want to go out for lunches, I was going to say drinks. But drinks, not during lunch. Drinks after work. Make sure you got that right. Rob Sands is going to be mad at me for that one.

But I saw the transformation of places like Buffalo. I mean, if you went to downtown Buffalo, if you ever went to a sabers game or you’re downtown, you saw how decrepit and what a brown field, just a wasteland, it was around there. And now it is a center of vitality and life. And it’s really put us on the map. That same experience is happening before our eyes here in Rochester. Utilizing the most beautiful river, the Genesee River, which is spectacular, and all the assets that were taken for granted. I mean, you put factories on rivers, you block the view from the rest of the world because it’s a source of energy for you, but you forget the fact that these are natural wonders that need to be cherished and shared with others.

And that’s what we’re doing is opening up that experience. So I’ve seen amazing things here, also even a skate park in the city. And that’s just a sign that you’re a cool hip kind of community. I mean, I saw Bob out there, skateboarding. Yeah, you should see the tricks he was doing. So many things are happening and I just, I have to tell you, it’s a huge point of pride for me because I know what it was like when thousands of jobs left, this community felt beaten down.

I’ve lived through that and now we are back. And that is a beautiful feeling that all of us share. And again, the campus of what we’re talking about, workforce training is so critically important. And, you know, we have, as I mentioned, great opportunities for workers and I have a picture here of me hugging some of our workers, members of the Ukrainian community when I was in Buffalo on Friday night, experiencing that, but also it reminded me of how diverse our workforce is here as well.

Being a place where people from every corner of this planet come and feel comfortable here. What we have done with making this community so welcoming to refugees has really set us on a path forward of diversity and welcomeness. And that is why we’re going to continue welcoming, not just the people of Ukraine when they are able to come here, but from all over the world.

And that is what makes us so unique here in Rochester and the Finger Lakes area. So, here’s some areas that we’re focusing on to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t know what the future will bring because back in November I was thinking, well, the numbers are going down. We’re looking really good.

And then November 26 was the first day that Omicron was identified as a variant, December 2nd, our first case in the state of New York, by the middle of December, we were on fire. It spread so quickly. That’s why we were so intent upon pushing vaccines and boosters out and testing kits. We had 92 million test kits, I think I have more than the federal government, because I was so intent that we have to protect our people, to amass the supplies we need. 

And I want to thank everyone in this region who had a hand, and many countless individuals did, to setting up our vaccination sites, working with the county and the city and the clergy and everywhere at the schools, making sure our children are vaccinated.

We still need more children vaccinated. We can do better on that front because we don’t know what the future will bring. So you’re parents, you want to continue to fortify your children, protect them every way you can, it’s what you’re hardwired to do as a parent. I know this, but we also have to continue focusing on our pandemic relief.

So continuing to be smart, we also have to rebuild our healthcare and teacher workforce, which I will talk about in a couple of minutes. Tax relief, my God, just when you think you’re getting above water, and then we have inflation, and then throw a war on top of it. I mean, this is just going to have, you know, a real hard impact on our struggling families and people just thought they might just be coming around the corner here.

And so we have to give them relief. We have to be very sensitive to that. And I certainly am as someone who, you know, has had to take care of family finances for a long time and we’d sit at the tables, like how’s this going to work out? How are we going to pay for not one but two college educations at the same time? These are the stresses that everyday New Yorkers deal with.

And the State has a responsibility to be in tune with that and respond as well. We also have to speed up our economic growth, continue to be creating good paying jobs, our infrastructure, climate change, public safety, homelessness, affordable housing, and as well as in fact, enacting bold reforms. So this is the agenda we’ve laid out. 

Just back to COVID, I will say that we did have a big, significant event when we lifted the mask requirement in schools. And that was on top of a few weeks ago, lifting the requirement for vaccines or masks. And again, this was done with tremendous amount of thought, analyzing the data, the trends, whether or not there’s any global variants spiking up elsewhere.

We did a lot of analysis with our Department of Health, as well as talking to leaders in Washington. And so, you know, what we’ve see now is a 99% drop since our highest cases. And I want to make sure that everyone knows that the Finger Lakes are now down to about 1.48, just a teeny bit higher than the statewide average of 1.41. So congratulations, Finger Lakes, you did that for us.

So, COVID over here, hopefully stays over there. Let’s talk about the recovery. Let’s talk about the great New York comeback. Let’s talk about the comeback of the Finger Lakes. And so let’s embrace this opportunity. This is a historic moment. We look back in time through other times when we, our country was hit with tough challenges.

I think about FDR all the time. I’m fortunate, the rare times I’m actually in Albany when I’m not running around the state, to be in the home that Franklin Roosevelt lived in. And his portrait is on the mantle, right next to the wheelchair that he had used to get around, that he didn’t want the public to see.

So I’m very much attuned and keenly aware of what he went through when the crash of ‘29 hit when he was governor and our country imploded into a depression, the likes of which it had never seen. So he had to deal with this as governor, then as president. And we look back at that and talk about how he led us through that time.

So I want people to look back at our time in the future and say, how did New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, get through this most challenging time? Not just with a pandemic, but with skyrocketing costs, geopolitical challenges across the world, with Russia invading Ukraine. And this is what’s going on all here in 2022.

So they’re gonna look back at us and say, what did they do, did it bring them down or did they rise up? This, my friends is our moment to rise up. And that’s exactly why we’re going to meet this extraordinary time with what we consider to be extraordinary solutions. So this may be ambitious, but you all know me.

We’re going to fight our way through this, and we’re going to look back and say, we did the right thing and we did it together. So we talked about how we’re going to use our budget to deal with all these stress points, we also have to make sure that we have money for the future. Now, this is kind of a radical idea in state government, but I come out of local government. 14 years, I know Bill – any local government officials in the room? 

Okay, you got a budget every year, it’s got to work. You’ve got to have money set aside for the rainy day, or as I call it, the blizzard day. You have to be ready for this. And so what I inherited was a situation where we have 4% of our state dollars in reserves for the challenging times. I’m going to make sure, like I had to do when I was a council member in the town of Hamburg, 15%, because if we get hit again, I want New Yorkers to know that we can be resilient and independent because we can never again count on Washington to deliver what they did.

It was extraordinary, they got us through the worst times, but we don’t know politically who’s going to be in charge in the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen with their revenues. What’s going to take a hit with perhaps a decline in revenues. So I want New York to be safe.

Now I know that I’ll have the money to take care of any challenges that come in the future. So we’re going to be socially progressive, but very fiscally conservative. And I want my budget to have 15% in reserves. So let’s talk about how we’re going to invest the rest of the money. We know people need money back in their pockets.

This was true before, but even more so now when you just have to look at the pump, was it $4.09 a gallon, is it going to even go higher? This is really painful, this is the highest it’s been since 2008. 2008 I was a county clerk and nobody was buying cars. All the SUV’s were sitting on the lots. Nobody was buying houses. I remember that like it was yesterday. That really hit the revenues of our state, but it hit people very deeply, that challenge that they had. And so I want to be sensitive to that. So we’re going to speed up what was a $1.2 billion middle-class tax cut that wasn’t scheduled to go into full effect till 2025.

I said, let’s front-load that. And let’s get that money in the pockets of individuals. 319,000 Finger Lakes taxpayers will benefit from that, beginning of this year, when we get the budget done. Property taxes, let’s give you some relief. We lost the ability to deduct the state and local taxes – 2019. That was a federal Donald Trump plan.

We’re still paying for that, we’ve lost a lot of people. But those who stayed, I thank you. But we also have to give you relief whenever we can. So we have a $2.2 billion property tax rebate to middle-class homeowners. That’ll help 245,000 people right in this area as well. And our small businesses, I came to Rochester a number of times during the pandemic, and I walked around and I talked to them and some of them were barely hanging on, their life’s dream felt like it was going down the drain. 

They worked so hard to have a little restaurant, a little retail shop, like the little shop my mother and I started years ago. I know the pain that’s involved when you just see all that, just vanishing, nothing you could control, everything was shut down. You had to lay off your employees. And now we have to help them come back because it is our small businesses that give our downtowns and our small communities, their identity. That’s what sets us apart. That’s what makes us so charming here in upstate New York. So we are going to have $250 million in tax credit for small businesses to help overcome extraordinary expenses they had to pay during the pandemic, get their employees back.

Also our farmers, we have to make sure that our farm community is strong and vital. I have to thank all the farmers who helped us during the toughest time of the pandemic. They, themselves, were under stress, dairy farmers in Wyoming County, Genesee County, in particular, all across the state. They had no market. Think about when schools are shut down, there’s nobody buying milk. Restaurants shut down, nobody’s buying their produce. It was a very tough time. So very quickly, the state jumped in, purchased all these products, commodities, and got them to food banks. And I’ve had the opportunity to witness the food from upstate New York and places as far away as Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx, feeding hungry people while keeping our farmers alive and able to continue on for another year or more, but let’s keep them going. They’re an important part of our industry and our economy.

We’re going to keep investing also in our healthcare. My gosh, if we ever realized that there were fractures in our healthcare system, it came to light during this pandemic. We knew we were heading toward a shortage of healthcare workers. We saw that back in 2018, you could see the trends. People retiring, the needs getting greater. Older population, more people with healthcare needs, and we weren’t ready for it. Then you hit a pandemic and people got sick themselves, had to walk away because they had to take care of people in their own families. People were exhausted after nearly two years of this, they just said I can’t take it anymore. I’ve looked in their eyes. I’ve met them. And what they’ve been through is excruciating.

So, instead of just always calling healthcare workers – “Oh my gosh, they’re heroes. Aren’t they great? – you’ve got to pay them better. Okay, that’s really nice, yeah, we owe you a dedicated. We also owe you a debt of money, in my opinion, you’ve been underpaid for far too long. So, let’s take care of these people. In the short, we’re going to give them bonuses just to say, thank you. We can do that. But also $1.6 billion for upgrades in our system. Our hospitals have really been hurting. A lot of them lost the ability to bring in revenue from elective surgeries, no fault of their own. It’s not something they could have planned for. They lost a lot of revenue. So, we’re going to have to rebuild our nursing homes, our healthcare facilities in our hospitals. And we’ll be having those conversations with the legislature very soon.

This is a necessity. It’s hard to make this much of an investment right now, but I say if we don’t put this $10 billion and now we’re going to regret it later. We’re going to regret it if we don’t build this whole system of more workers coming in and we have a very aggressive plan to recruit more doctors and nurses. I even said, anyone coming in from Ukraine, if they have a nursing degree they can work with us. Let’s bring them here. Let’s bring them from all over and, you know, reduce any bureaucratic burdens that might be in their way. I’ve talked to our health department of how we can do just that.

Our schools. Our schools have taken on the chin as well. Think about all that our kids and the teachers and parents just came through all this remote learning and we saw that there was an incredible digital divide. When the thought was, well, just go home and learn on your iPad or your family computer. What if you don’t have internet connection? What if that’s not something your family could afford? What if you don’t have a device that works? So we lost a lot of education time for our kids and we’re going to be paying for that for a long time. To lose a year, year and a half, two years of education in a normal setting, not to mention the social dynamic of kids being isolated, not having access to friends and a support system or people who need particular assistance. I don’t know if we’re going to know for a long time, the real impact on our children, but we have to do something about it now. We need to get them to mental health services. We need to invest in our schools. We need good after school programs so there’s productive activities for children when they leave at the end of the school day, because not everybody’s parents are able to sit home and wait for them. They have their jobs to do as well.

So, we’re making our highest investment in the history of the State of New York toward education. $31 billion and the Finger Lakes, alone, $177 million as well as for foundation aid, which goes to the high need communities. And this was tied up in litigation for a long time. I settled it. I said, let’s stop fighting. Get the money out to people. $124.3 million for this area as well.

Also, tuition assistance. It is, it has long been absurd to me that we don’t help part-time students with their tuition, because you’re basically saying you have to be wealthy enough to say I’m leaving all my jobs. I don’t have to work. I’m going to be a full-time student in order to get assistance because you don’t have that much money. Do you realize how inane that is? The people who need the money and the ones who need the work go to school part-time because they’re trying to earn money for this semester to pay for the next semester. So, let’s just make it easier on everyone to have access to a great education at places like MCC and allow part-time students to have eligibility for tuition assistance. $150 million will help make that happen. It’s common sense. It should have been happening all along and we’re going to do that in this year’s budget.

Also, as I mentioned, the Ford Center right here, let’s get the word out to students. I want to make sure that we’re helping spread the word that we’ll be taking students in a very short time, scaled up over the next three years, but this is ingenious. I want to see more of this. This is going to be a role model for what we do all across the state. So I’m very excited about that as well.

We’re going to continue investing in workforce development and the economy. I said in my State of the State, I want to have New York State be the most business-friendly and the most worker-friendly state in the nation. We can achieve that. And that’s why we’re investing in our workforce development programs so people are trained for the jobs of the future.

Also, let’s launch phase two, of ROC the Riverway, let’s get it done. Let’s make sure that we have the resources we need. Announcing that here. Let’s build on the success of phase one. $50 million in New York investment for more than a dozen projects that will revitalize this beautiful downtown’s waterfront. A highlight right now we’ll be highlighting phase two, which is the new High Falls State Park. That’s going to allow us to preserve the Genesee River Gorge and have public access for the first time in generations. The bridge is beautiful. I think this is, I mean, this is so beautiful. What can I say? I’ve been to more waterfronts and I’ve seen more communities and it is still shocking to me that over time people never embraced the beauty and the wonder of just access to water. Water calms people down. You have the Erie Canal, the Genesee River, Lake Ontario, this area has it all. And the Finger Lakes.

I talk about this area all the time, just so you know. I’m always celebrating what we have here. Now, have you been to that winery on this lake? Have you been up to the Lake Ontario? Have you been to downtown Rochester? It is so beautiful here, but we need to just put it on the map. You know, let’s focus on the state park. Let’s use the state resource to help this, keep it going and to really just let people know that this is a community that is fantastic and is on the move.

So, we’ve announced before we had $6 million committed for the park design. Today, we’re beginning the public engagement process. We have some concept plans and renderings to show you. So if you have any ideas, you can go to [email protected]. We want the public involved. You show us your vision. What do you want to see for your kids and your grandkids someday? We want, what is the legacy you want to help create? We don’t have all the answers. We have all the questions. You tell us what you want to see in this area and we’ll make it happen. So I’m real excited about this.

Also, this will include $2.5 million already committed by the Finger Lakes REDC to restore the High Falls Visitor Center. That’s great. $9.5 million for the aqueduct reimagined project. We’ll remove the Broad Bridge Street, restore the Historic Erie Canal Aqueduct as public space and that’ll replicate the canal side experience we have in Buffalo. So the new Rochester downtown partnership will help promote and create these improved spaces. So we’re just getting started.

Also $10 million awarded to Rochester, through the DRI. We talked about that, but now this is going to allow us to improve the blighted Main and Clinton block. This area has to come back. It has great potential. I believe in it, so let’s make it happen.

So we’re going to start the public input sessions. Let’s see what the public has in mind. Again, this is where all the great ideas are going to come from [inaudible]. Overall, we want to continue the downtown revitalization issues. This is one of the most fabulous projects ever envisioned because you go to a community, and again, this is where my local government experience comes in, my town of Hamburg, New York, if someone had said here’s $10 million, I would have fallen off my chair. I mean, because over time, you try to get a little grant here a little grant there, I mean over maybe 20 years, you can get the impact that you can have with $10 million all at once.

I know that, and that is why we’re going to continue. For our budget overall, $100 million for that program, but also a $100 million for New York Forward. And I want to go after some of our smaller communities, a lot of the large, we now have 60 communities that have been re-imagined, they’re either finished or they’re in the process over the last number of years, but smaller and rural communities need to apply as well.

Some communities, I’ve been to all of them, they’re literally an intersection. But that might be a little bit rundown. It might have great potential, a couple of buildings, but the upstairs, it can be converted to a residential. The first floor could be a little brewery, a little retail shop, an incubator, but they don’t have the money or the resources. So we could actually make it a lot easier on them as well.

And I also said one reason a lot of smaller communities don’t apply is they don’t have an on-staff grant writer. That’s expensive. So I said, I want my team to be holding the hands of these communities letting them know what to do, breaking down this, just making it easier for people to get that money so they can transform their communities in the likeness that they want.

Let them be the ones that charge that vision forward. So we’re going to be announcing much more on that as well. Also, as I mentioned, the need for broadband. $1.4 billion for the Connect All initiative. We have to have more affordable broadband. This to me, I figured this out a long time ago, this is like air.

I mean, if your breathing air, you don’t even think about it. You know, of course you’re going to breathe, of course you’re going to have broadband. If you don’t have it, you are suffocating and you’re being held back. Your kids can apply for tuition assistance online, a small business can’t sell to the market like the  e-commerce markets, because they don’t have that access. We still have too many underserved areas and cost has been a barrier. So we’re going to continue focusing on a reliable broadband initiative. So $1.4 billion for that across the state.

And we’re also going to be continuing to focus on our tourism campaigns, another $60 million for our tourism campaigns and support our regional economic development councils.

Also, I’ve seen more of these. This is see, see those are shovels, so it’s shovel ready. We’re going to make sure we have shovel-ready sites all over the state of New York and another $200 million because employers, businesses looking to expand, they want to go to states where they don’t have to deal with a lot of hassle. They want to be able to say, I’ve got an idea. I can go anywhere in the country. Believe me, I’ve talked to them and I’m always trying to recruit them here in Upstate New York. And what they want to do is have shovel-ready sites. So let’s get the development of those sites ready. And I’m going to put $200 million to kick that off in our state budget as well.

And we cannot forget the crisis that is unfolding. We have seen more climate change driven weather in Upstate New York, the unprecedented flooding on Lake Ontario. What’s happening with temperature changes and just, we’ve really been getting hit hard in this state and we have to confront this now, actually yesterday, but right now we have to take this and I want to have a $4 billion bond act passed this November, and we need all of your help.

Because this will give us the money to focus on clean water and clean air and just to focus on clean energy jobs, which I believe are really the future. We need to teach the skills for those jobs as well. We’re also making the largest investment in our environmental protection fund, we’ve got a dedicated $2.3 million for the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario watershed.

Those are the kinds of investments we get this through. We can micro target areas of high need, focus on them and also do what we’re responsible to do. You know, we are the stewards of this climate and this planet for the future. What happens now in our hands will make a profound difference on the lives of our children and grandchildren. That’s how I look at this. So I need your help to get that passed as well.

We’re also focusing on offshore wind. We have some manufacturing being done Upstate, we are literally going to do a lot of this off of Long Island, but we’re manufacturing the component parts here in Upstate. So I love the fact that there’s a whole ecosystem that we can build the parts of the turbines and all the component parts and get them shipped down, literally down the Erie Canal, the Hudson River, and they’re down in Long Island. So we’ve been focusing on that as well.

And also our State Parks. I love our State Parks. I’ve been camping in everywhere from Allegany to Letchworth up to Thousand Islands, because when you’re a little kid, and you don’t have a lot of money, your parents throw you in the back of the station wagon, that’s your sleeping in the back of a Station Wagon with a bunch of kids for your vacation, a lot of fun, but great memories.

And I also want that available for generations to come as well. I mean, let’s keep investing in our State Parks and a place like Letchworth, I mean, I’ve heard some call it the Grand Canyon of the East. No-no I call that the Letchworth of the West. So just so you know, it is spectacularly beautiful.

Also our roads and bridges. Gosh, the weather is tough on our roads and bridges. We know that, so we need more money Upstate, to deal with the effect of that. So we’re going to have the largest investment in infrastructure in our history, $32.8 billion. And that’s also, you think about an infrastructure, yes, we have to fix the potholes and I’ve had a personal experience with every single pothole in the state of New York.

I’m coming at them. I’ve driven on all of them. 370,000 miles as Lieutenant Governor. And I know how important it is, you know, it’s part of an image of a community. And you drive through the city streets or rural areas, and you’re hitting potholes. You see curves that are all run down. It doesn’t give you a good image of a community.

So something like that when it’s built up and fixed and it just feels, there’s a sense of pride in a community. And it’s just expensive for localities as it is. I know this, I tried many times in my town. We did the best we could. So let’s focus on that. Our transit hubs, making sure we have resources going at the potholes, but also major infrastructure projects as well.

So our local numbers are going to be almost $50 million for the Chips Highway program. Let’s get out there and pave New York. Another 13 million are extreme weather recovery, almost $10 million in our state touring routes to fix up the roads for people drive around again, making it a beautiful experience, almost a $9.3 million on that.

So let’s talk about that inner loop. I love what happened there. I talk about this all over the state just so you know. I talked about how we need to be investing in connecting communities, not separating them has had been the practice in the past. I talked about this, when we talked about, I-81 in Syracuse. We talked about what we’re going to try and do in Buffalo.

And I always say there’s an example out there. There’s an example of what people came together and did in Rochester. And it is extraordinary. I have been at ribbon cuttings for a supportive housing for veterans and affordable housing and neighborhood projects, at the site of a former highway. And that is unbelievable.

So infrastructure is not about just, you know, asphalt and shovels and building roads. It’s also about connecting communities. That’s what I love about infrastructure. It connects people, communities, it connects families at the end of a workday, connects people to their jobs. And let’s continue to do that in particularly communities of color that have been almost by design separated. It seems like the, the highways went through these communities the most. And it was a time when everyone designed them to get people out to the suburbs. I mean, leave the downtown area. We saw that in Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester, everybody leave. Well, we don’t want that to happen, we want to connect the communities, bring people back down and make sure that our downtowns are vital.

So today I’m announcing $100 million in funding committed to the project. $100 million dollars. Let’s get it done. You know, I’m impatient. I said, let’s get moving. We have a two year design process underway now. And I’m going to say we shortened that a little bit. But we’ll replicate the success of the Interloop East. We know how to do this, we’ve done it before and we can have the infill and this area has divided Rochester for too long. And I know we can do extraordinary things here.

Just think about it, when we deal with the expansion of the children’s museum and all the great things that have happened. So we are only limited by our imagination and what we can do, and we reopen this land and make the community feel like it’s one again, and that’s what I really want to achieve.

And so I think that’s going to be fantastic. And this is going to be something where we talk about for a long time, but also a couple other major facilities I’ve heard a lot about from our Mayor and our County Executive. You know, I love zoos and you know, I love baseball. So here we go. Here we go. Frontier Field an additional $10 million for a total of $12.5 million.

That means the Rochester Red Wings. We love our Red Wings, one of the nation’s oldest professional baseball teams, if you know that the history. They’ll now be able to meet the standards set by Major League Baseball. So that’s important. So let’s make that shine again. It’s going to be beautiful, but also the Seneca Park Zoo. I took my kids to many zoos. It’s, it’s a great experience, and it connects families together, and I love zoos.

So we are going to allocate an additional $42.5 million to fully implement the business for it. It’s the region’s second largest tourist attraction, I think we’re going to even go higher. And this is incredible. So thank you for your complete- I don’t think I ever talked to you about it, every phone call was COVID-Zoo-Baseball. COVID-Zoo-Baseball. COVID-Zoo-Baseball.

So there you go, affordable homes that you mentioned. I cut more ribbons and done more ground-breaks in the Finger Lakes area than anywhere else in the State. We’ve done a lot in the past, but we have more to do. We have more people who need affordable homes. So I’m going to go big on this one. You know, my philosophy is go big or go home. We are not going home. We are going to invest $25 billion, unprecedented amount of money, into the ability to create a hundred thousand affordable homes. And that’s going to preserve homes, it’s going to create new homes, and supportive services.

We have had the opportunities, Senior Housing Irondequoit. I mean, I was just going through my staff as I was coming in today, I said, “Can you make a list of all the ribbon cuttings and groundbreakers I’ve done in affordable housing, senior housing, housing for veterans, all over. And it was, it was such a long list. Like, forget, it’s just too big because that’s happening here, but we’re not going to rest on our laurels. We have more to do. And now, you know, we’ve done Sibley square, you know, HCR Liberty Landing, and Charlotte Square. There’s so many great models out there, and I want to continue to invest, because this helps, particularly if it’s senior housing allows our seniors to age in dignity here, and have the supportive services they need. So they don’t have to go somewhere else. They can be near their families, but also for young people, you know, we have to make sure that they have an opportunity to live in the community that they were raised in, and be part of our whole workforce.

So I think this is going to be transformative. I’m real excited about getting that money out there as well. Also our rural communities, we’re going to invest over a million dollars in the neighborhood preservation program, and our rural programs as well. We cannot forget our rural areas. They may not be, because they’re not the largest, they don’t have a lot of representatives. And their clout has always been kind of questioned. I have to tell you right now, no longer. You have great advocates in the local delegation. You have your great champions for the rural areas, but also, I, personally, have visited more farms and milked, more cows, and seen more of the hardworking individuals. Sometimes it’s, you know, the third, fourth, fifth generation farmer, and we need them to survive because they’re part of our identity. So we’re going to help them with their additional costs, as well as the communities, without lower cost housing in the rural areas as well.

And supporting an energy crisis, energy prices are going through the roof. We have, we have programs, we have to get information out there about HEAP and other opportunities we have to help people get through those tough areas. Tough, tough times of paying those bills. And I do want to shift to an issue that’s very much in the headlines, not just in Rochester, not just New York City, all across the country. And someday sociologists will try to determine what happened during this pandemic that led to the human condition changing and people losing hope, and people losing their jobs and feeling very desperate. And, you know, why we have seen an increase in crime and we’ll deal with the root causes. And that’s important. But we also have to deal with the fact that we have to save people. We do have a record number of homicides here in Rochester. And again, it’s not just here, but we know what we have to do.

And we have to create more training opportunities for our law enforcement, help them receive the funding they need. We’re tripling our investment in our law enforcement. Very important to me and our gun-based violence response, as well as what happens with community after gun violence. We have to realize this has an effect on an entire community, and the children that are in a family when a loved one is lost to violence or they’re related to the perpetrator of the violence. It has an effect that we have to deal with holistically, but bottom line is: people need to feel safe in their communities. And that’s what we’re going to be focusing on as we have the conversations going forward over the next couple of weeks. So we’ll be announcing more on that.

And I announced a Gun Interdiction Taskforce, where we have nine states. Nine states have come together as well as NYPD. All of our bordering states, the Northeast, because we are seeing a real pipeline of guns. Illegal guns are coming to this state more than ever before. And people are buying the guns on the streets. The gun trade is very robust and we have to cut it off. So we’re going to be hopefully stopping guns from coming up from the borders, Pennsylvania, where we have people loading assault weapons into trunks in gun shows, legally, in Pennsylvania. Well, they’re heading north because they’re going to make money selling them on our streets. We have to cut that off, and that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to be dealing with it, make sure we have the money to deal with it. $224 million for violence prevention and disruptive programs, as well as our gun interdiction programs.

So, tripling our resources again for law enforcement, tripling our resources for the violence disruptor programs, and I’ve directed the State Police to allocate more resources to this area. We have State police on the ground, more so here, because we were asked for help and we said, “Yes, of course, we’re going to help you.” So we have more troopers here than any other urban area in the State, and that’s having an impact, and we’re going to stay there while they can still keep making a difference. And that is my commitment to this community until we turn the corner, and we will turn the corner, mark my words, we are going to come out of this. We have a thoughtful approach. We need time to execute it, and we’re going to make these communities as safe as they were before the pandemic. And I want to thank Mayor Evans for his partnership on this as well. We’re going to sit down after this event, have a conversation as we have done before, but, we’ll partner, very close between the State and local governments on fighting gun violence. And also an area, an issue that I’ve been here before many times to talk about, expanding our substance abuse services.

We have tremendous programs in this community, but it’s all about scaling them up. Are there enough resources are enough people in this field, the recovery coaches, the doctors that are training, are we doing enough? And the answer is, we’re going to keep fighting this until we can save every single life. I’m not giving up this fight. As you know, it took a family member of mine. So when we thought was going to be able to turn the corner, and the resources just weren’t there a decade ago. We are going to make sure that every family has what they need to help a loved one get through this. So we are going to have nearly $30 million in this area for treatment and recovery and prevention services.

And we’ve been, we’ve been in a number of events. So that’s just sort of a top line snapshot of what we’re going to do. We have a lot on our plate, that I want you to know, that I’m up to the task. I’m excited. I’m energized. I’m proud to be the first upstate Governor in a very long time. And I want to continue to fight with, not fight with you, fight for you, to fight for you and to really herald in a whole new time in our State, a new era for New York, which is based on. Consensus-building and collaboration, a whole different approach to government and our willingness to work so closely, hand in hand, with our local partners here, to really just give people the sense of confidence and faith.

We have worked so hard on the pandemic, and now we have other challenges, but I, in my heart, truly believe that we are just on the cusp of entering a whole new era that people look back on and say, “Yes, they figured it out. They got through those times and they got through them together,” in a stronger way that people are going to be so, so proud of. I want to thank all of you for being here today and for also being the advocates and the champions and the people who are out there in the community, letting people know that our best days truly do lie ahead, just around the corner. And I believe in that. So thank you very much.



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