By: Ilana Siyance
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2021 State of the State address, setting his agenda for the coming year. At a time when the state’s main focus has been the ongoing pandemic and related financial woes, it is fitting that he devoted most of the address to those topics.
The third-term Democratic governor delivered his speech virtually from the state Capitol’s ornate War Room. “We will win the COVID war and we will learn and grow from the experience,” Cuomo said. He referred to this time period as a “low tide in America”, saying the pandemic has exposed social inequity into our societies. As reported by Democrat and Chronical, the governor vowed to lead initiatives which will improve health care access and economic opportunity for underserved communities.
The governor spoke about plans to improve distribution of the “lifesaving” Coronavirus vaccination as well as testing, including the creation of a state public health corps, with 1,000 workers hired to help manage vaccinations in partnership with Cornell University and Northwell Health. He also spoke about launching a public health training program, which would set out to certify up to 100,000 New Yorkers as emergency public health volunteers to be ready for the next crisis.
Cuomo also announced proposals to increase production of medical supplies in NY, so as to avoid the shortages in personal protective equipment experienced last spring, due to our dependence on the China made gear. “It was like sending soldiers into battle without bullets,” he said, blaming the White House for leaving medical workers unprotected against the novel virus.
As per Democrat and Chronical, the governor’s speech also focused on NYS taking on major infrastructure and public health projects. “We must be the first to anticipate how COVID will transform our society and economy and we must capitalize on those changes,” Cuomo said. Gov. Cuomo spoke about his plans in abstract terms, offering little details. He announced plans, however, to make additional, issue-specific speeches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Next week, he is also slated to present his state budget proposal.
Cuomo also used the address to bring up the state’s ailing annual revenues, “a $15 billion budget deficit- the largest in history”. The governor urged federal representatives to make billions of dollars of aid available to NY before the April 1 budget deadline. Last week, Cuomo had also put forth two proposals which he hopes will bring added revenue to the state— legalizing adult-use marijuana, and legalizing mobile sports betting. Cuomo is expected to touch upon these two topics, among others, in his follow up speeches this week.