‘Post-9/11 on steroids’: Cuomo lays out priorities for NYC recovery

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference on April 12.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York State is moving into an “operational phase” of governance, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said he’ll be dialing back his legislative focus to further manage the COVID-19 pandemic — including a New York City recovery plan.

At an April 12 press conference, the state’s embattled chief executive told reporters that all the policies he had hoped to pass so far this year had made it into the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget passed last week, and New Yorkers shouldn’t expect many more splashy policies coming from Albany. 

“My policy priorities were passed in the budget. I had outlined them before. The priorities going forward for me with the legislature is going to be confirmation [of judges]. So beyond that, we have work to do, right?” Cuomo said. “This is a very operational phase for the state government. These mass vaccination sites are a tremendous operational burden to set up … Then the pop up sites, then the partnerships with the churches, then the public education that goes along with it battling this hesitancy, that we’re seeing with the vaccines.”

But the pandemic was not the only item on the agenda for Cuomo, who still faces pending investigations into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, and his administration’s handling of deaths in the Empire State’s nursing homes. 

On top of his managerial role in vaccine rollout, the governor will also be overseeing several infrastructure plans, such as his plan to invest $26 billion in green power through off-shore wind as well as the contentious Empire Station Complex at Penn Station.

“The projects, the infrastructure, bringing New York City back, the green economy plan. I’m going to outline it in detail but that’s like, 20 projects, in and of itself,” he said Monday. “The Empire Station Complex is going to be the largest transportation complex built in New York City.”

Prefacing these comments on the projects he hopes to focus on leading a recovery for the five boroughs, Cuomo said that he did not believe a “natural recovery” was in the books for municipalities. Instead, he stressed the city needed something akin to the post-9/11 rebuilding period — but “on steroids.”

“I believe cities, there will be some level of natural recovery. In other words, people start to go out, people starting to go to restaurants, but I would not rely on natural recovery. Natural rebound. We have a very aggressive reopening, reimagining, renewal plan for New York City, right? New York City that’s better than ever,” Cuomo said. “Cities paid a very terrible price during COVID because the density became an enemy, proximity to other people became frightening. That is the essence of a city.”

While the governor did not weigh in on the 2021 mayoral race, he stressed that the next leader in City Hall will need to be able to take on issues regarding police reform and the homeless crisis with “competence.” He added that he was watching the race and that he may weigh in soon.

This story first appeared on amNewYork.