|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 11th, 2021
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New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address today laid out his vision for 2021, as we continue to grapple with a global public health crisis and a staggering 15 billion dollar budget deficit. Governor Cuomo acknowledged that we have a long road ahead of us and that it is essential for us to receive additional aid from the federal government. We continue to have high rates of COVID-19 infections throughout New York State, and many of us are still mourning the loss of friends, family members, and neighbors that we lost as a result of this pandemic.
It is an understatement to say that there are more challenges ahead for New York State in 2021. However, Governor Cuomo emphasized that there is still hope on the horizon. The COVID-19 vaccine distribution to our most at-risk populations and a new administration occupying the White House on January 20th will hopefully bring us one step closer to eliminating this deadly virus.
There were many policy proposals and reforms introduced by the Governor today during his address, but I was most pleased to see the Governor address:
Vaccinations – Governor Cuomo highlighted the importance of making vaccinations a priority and that they are made available to as many eligible New Yorkers as possible. while acknowledging the structural inequities that have contributed to existing health disparities in communities of color.
Equitable Access to Broadband – The Governor stated that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers have broadband access, but it is still unaffordable for many families. He is making affordability a priority, as many of us are forced to rely on our internet connection for work, school, and communicating with our friends and family. Internet access is no longer a privilege but should be viewed as a right for all.
Telehealth Services – Governor Cuomo stated that he would enact comprehensive telehealth reform to ensure New Yorkers have greater access to this option as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eviction Moratoriums – Governor Cuomo will codify his Executive Order banning fees for late and missed rent payments during the pandemic and allowing tenants to use their security deposit as immediate payment and repay the deposit over time, keeping those protections in place through May 1. The Governor will also codify his Executive Order to establish a statewide moratorium on commercial evictions until May 1st for commercial tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. This will provide much-needed relief to commercial and residential tenants that are struggling financially and fear being evicted.
Voting – Governor Cuomo’s new proposal would expand access to early voting, extend no-excuse absentee voting , allow more time for voters to request an absentee ballot and require county boards of elections to process absentee ballots as they are received and to begin counting and reporting those ballots on Election Day. Voting is a fundamental right, and these reforms put forth by the Governor will ensure greater access to voting for communities that were the most impacted by COVID-19.
I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on these issues during this tumultuous time. It has not been easy, but he has been on the frontlines every day fighting for all of us. I look forward to our continued work together in Albany and City Hall advocating for the people of New York.