State of the State 2020: Governor Cuomo's Ambitious Plans for New York

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In his 2020 State of the State Address on January 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a “robust agenda” that ranged from investing heavily to combat climate change by developing New York state’s Green Economy to creating a highly taxed and regulated legal marijuana industry. The Governor also noted the $6 billion budget deficit in New York state, casting much of the blame on rising Medicaid costs. In doing so, the Governor was critical of the program in which the State has paid for all Medicaid cost increases incurred by its counties. While not presenting a plan to change this program, the Governor called it “unsustainable” for counties to continue to incur these increased Medicaid costs and not share in the responsibility to pay.

Several other proposals in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address could impact municipalities across New York. Highlights of those proposals include:

Developing a high-speed rail on New York’s Empire Corridor

Encouraged by the “outside-the-box thinking” that brought about a solution to repair the L-Train Tunnel without shutting down service, Governor Cuomo plans to bring together outside experts to rethink and reexamine the strategies to bring a high-speed rail to the Empire Corridor. The desire for a high-speed rail connecting Buffalo, Albany, and New York City has existed for over twenty years, but recommendations have always been too expensive and too time-consuming. The team of experts will review past studies and successful high-speed rails in other countries in an effort to find a new plan to build a “faster, greener, more reliable high-speed rail in New York.”

Expanding upon New York’s Workforce Development Initiative

In 2019, the Governor put forth a $175 million Workforce Development Initiative, which trained more than 3,000 employees with “in-demand skills” and spurred the construction of the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo. The Governor will expand upon this Workforce Development Initiative with the construction of a Workforce Training Center in Syracuse and two Future of Work Centers, which will partner with private and public organizations to provide training through degree and non-degree programs. The sites for the Future to Work Centers will be chosen by Fall 2020.

Creating the first Workforce Training Center in Syracuse

As mentioned above, Governor Cuomo put forth a proposal to construct a comprehensive Workforce Training Center in Syracuse to meet STEM-related job requirements in Syracuse and Central New York. This multipurpose center will house both a regional high school and worker/apprentice training programs. The Workforce Training Center will train students in skills focused on the emerging and advanced technologies found on jobsites through Syracuse and Central New York. The Workforce Training Center will also help provide trained employees to the projects that have arrived in the area, as a part of the Governor’s “Syracuse Surge” proposal in his 2019 State of the State Address.

Investing in unmanned aerial drones

The Governor announced his plan to invest $9 million to establish a small unmanned aerial system (“sUAS”) experimentation and testing facility at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York. The indoor dome will be a “one-of-a-kind” research and test facility and support the efforts of the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate and the NY UAS Test site to support the development of sUAS technologies.

Investing in high-tech companies in and around Rochester’s Downtown Innovation Zone

Three industry-leading high-tech companies will be receiving investments to facilitate the creation and expansion of new headquarters, new operations and new jobs:

  • CloudCheckr, a software company that assists with the management of complex cloud infrastructures, will be expanding its headquarters in Rochester’s Downtown Innovation Zone, committing to create up to 397 high-tech jobs. Empire State Development will be providing assistance to this expansion by providing up to $8 million through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit program through job creation commitments.
  • Mastodon Designs creates intelligence and communication products for, among other companies, the US Department of Defense. Mastodon Design will be relocating to a 34,000 square foot facility in the City of Rochester and is committing to creating up to 235 new jobs. To assist in the relocation and job expansion, Empire State Development will provide up to $3 million though the Excelsior Job Program.
  • Calero Software, a software and communications company, will be expanding into to a building located in Downtown Rochester and creating up to 100 new jobs. To assist in the relocation and job expansion, Empire State Development will provide up to $1 million though the Excelsior Job Program.

Reimaging the Erie Canal

The Governor announced his plan to invest $300 million, through the New York Power Authority Board, to reimage the Erie Canal communities. The plan is for this investment to assist in creating recreation and tourism opportunism, help mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation, restore the wetlands, and improve the recreation fishing along the Erie Canal. Some of the immediate plans for investments include: creation of the “Brockport Loop” in Monroe County to help connect SUNY Brockport to the Empire State Trailand and the Village of Brockport through the creation of a pedestrian bridge and overlook; development of interactive movable dams in Amsterdam and Canajoharie; development of a whitewater recreation destination at Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls; development of a canalside neighborhood in Canastota in Madison County; and redeveloping Guy Park Manor as a hospitality destination and pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam.

Transforming the North Aud Block at Buffalo’s Canalside

Buffalo’s Canalside has seen a vibrant rebirth over the past few years. To build upon this destination, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $10 million in funding to redevelop the North Aud Block, the final parcel to develop at Canalside. Plans include the development of residences, restaurants, shops, and parking, with the streets acting as pedestrian paths and an open piazza for crowds. Two projects are already set to break ground in 2020. Sinatra & Company Real Estate LLC will develop a $21 million site known as “Heritage Point”, which is two mixed-use buildings with ground floor retail and restaurants and office/residential units on the upper floors. Benderson Development Co. is planning to break ground on “Two Canalside," a five-story mixed use building.

The MuniBlog will follow these proposals as the fiscal year progresses and report on funding resources, in anticipation of the governor’s release of the 2020-2021 budget.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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