Economy and tech highlights from the 2012 State of the State
The final rousing lines have been delivered and the Egg is clearing out - so now's when the real work begins for the governor, to implement the programs outlined in his State of the State address today.
You can read the prepared text that the governor's office released beforehand (from which he deviated liberally during the address). Or you can watch it here - total program
runs ran about 1:45. [Below is the governor's hour-long speech.]
Here's what grabbed our attention, and what we'll be following up on in the coming days.
Investing $1 billion in Buffalo: In the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo, "we did it in Albany, we can do it in Buffalo." Cuomo wants to target major funding to Buffalo to help revitalize the third poorest city in the nation - by attracting new industries and investors. Not a lot of details on exactly how this is going to happen, so Daniel Robison will be watching this closely. But the announcement does answer Daniel's question from yesterday about how upstate and Western New York will fare in the speech.
More regional council money: We actually already knew that the legislative leaders had agreed to an additional round of competitive grants through the regional councils - now we know that it's going to be $200 million, about what was being offered in the first round.
Gaming: Cuomo was adamant that gambling already happens in New York - at Native American casinos, and at racinos. He pointed out that we have more electronic gaming machines than Atlantic City does. And when people aren't gambling here, they're gambling across the border in Canada and Massachusetts. So the governor called to amend the constitution to make gambling legal so we can do it "safely" and create jobs.
Infrastucture: The New York Works Fund will plan for investments in bridges, roads, and state parks and DEC dams. In the prepared text released before the speech there's also a commitment to update 90 municipal water systems, improve 48 historic sites and state parks, and repair 114 flood control projects damaged during this year's storms.
Energy "master plan": Cuomo wants to put out a request for proposals to find a private company that will finance a $2 billion infrastructure build to help bring more power capacity to downstate from upstate's renewables, and draw in more power from Quebec. We'll be taking a close look at what that would mean for New York's existing regulatory structure, how it might affect the renewable energy marketplace, and what that means for the underwater Champlain Hudson transmission line. In the document (not the speech), the governor also called for investing more in solar power, and touts efforts to push up implementation of an agreement that allows homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements that they pay off gradually on their power bill ("on-bill financing").
Fracking: The governor actually didn't say anything about fracking. It was included in the prepared document in the most neutral way possible: he talked about what the DEC has done so far in terms of its environmental review, tallied the number of public comments received, and that's about it. No mention of how he feels about fracking, no mention of a timeline for drilling beginning, and no mention of how drilling might play into the state's economic future.
Foreclosure relief: The prepared text declared that the state's Department of Financial Services would soon be setting up a "Foreclosure Relief Unit to provide counseling and mediation services to help New Yorkers stay in their homes." No word on when "soon" is, how those services would be paid for, or how the state would reach out to the New Yorkers who need help most.
SUNY challenge grants: Last year the governor announced that the state's big research universities would be getting a chunk of cash through the NYSUNY2020 program. This year, that becomes a competition for 60 schools to fight for three grants of $20 million apiece.
So what do you think? Did you listen in? Do you have questions about any of the initiatives that the governor discussed? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook what you'd like for us to follow up on.