Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he’ll meet with President Donald Trump on Wednesday to discuss an infrastructure program with federal funds for state projects, including repairing deteriorating commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River.
Cuomo said he believes the state has finally “turned the page” on the COVID-19 pandemic for now, and it’s time to refocus on "supercharging" the economy.
He began the day by ringing the bell to reopen New York’s Stock Exchange, after a two-month shutdown. Wall Street is not only a symbol of New York and the nation’s economy, it also generates 17% of the state’s revenues.
The governor, speaking during his daily coronavirus briefing in the board room of the Stock Exchange, said all areas of the state except New York City are in the first phase of reopening or will begin it later this week. He said it’s time to jump-start the economy, and one of the ways to do that is by building public works projects.
Cuomo said New York’s ongoing infrastructure projects will “accelerate,” including the long-delayed renovation of Penn Station, the redesign of LaGuardia Airport, and building renewable power transmission lines that link Canadian power to New York.
And Cuomo said he’ll meet with Trump in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss joint projects with the federal government.
“You want to restart the economy, you want to reopen the economy, let’s do something creative, let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work,” Cuomo said.
The projects the governor is seeking funding for include a train to New York’s major airports, and the replacement of the 110-year-old commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River from New York to New Jersey. Trump in the past has resisted providing money to what’s known as the Gateway project.
Cuomo said the public works projects would provide needed jobs in an economy that likely will still be struggling for some time. The governor said he expects the recovery to be “uneven,” with layoffs in some industries that will harm workers.
“I believe it bounces back, but it bounces back differently,” he said. “There will be winners and losers.”
Cuomo said the economic recovery will only happen if the infection rate keeps dropping. He said everyone will have to get used to wearing protective masks for a while.
“This has to be part of who we are and what we do every day,” he said.
He predicted that it will even become trendy, noting that some people coordinate their outfits with the color of their masks.
Cuomo said going forward, the thousands of contact tracers being hired around the state also will be key to identifying and containing any virus hot spots.