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Cuomo, Biden meet on infrastructure rebuilding plans

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted Vice President Joe Biden to talk about new ways of rebuilding infrastructure after damaging storms. The two are potential presidential contenders in 2016, if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run. But they had nothing but praise for one another.  

New York state received $6 billion in federal aid after Superstorm Sandy, and Cuomo Biden to the State Capitol, to show him how he’s spending the money.

Cuomo, who says he’s declared nine weather-related disasters in just three years as governor, spoke on a day when many people were learning the term "polar vortex," and parts of western and central New York were getting several feet of snow.

“Extreme weather is the new reality, like it or not,” said Cuomo. “And we have to deal with it.”

In a power point presentation, Cuomo discussed his plans for building 100 new sophisticated weather stations across the state, to help measure when more floods and other damaging storms might occur.  The governor says he’s also looking at ways to securely seal the over 540 entrances to the New York City subway system, and plans to rebuild over 100 bridges upstate to better sustain high waters.

Cuomo also gave a preview of some of his State of the State proposals, saying he’ll propose overhauling New York’s La Guardia and JFK airports.

“They are inexcusable, frankly,” Cuomo said. “They have not been redeveloped to keep pace with the best international airports, and that’s something that we’re going to attend to.”

Biden, who told Cuomo the slide show had made his trip worth it, praised Cuomo’s plans.

“You’re not just leading New York, you’re leading the country,” the vice president told the governor. “I think a lot of governors and a lot of folks are going to learn an awful lot from what they see you do here.”

Biden says he worries that the nation as a whole is not keeping up with its infrastructure, and as a result is losing jobs to other countries, like China, where they have made it easier to produce goods and ship them to markets.

“We’ve got to get back on our game,” Biden said.  

Biden and Cuomo are both considered potential rivals in the 2016 presidential race, should Hillary Clinton decide not to run. Cuomo says he was pleased to have a chance to show the vice president New York’s Capitol, and says he got to know Biden when the vice president was a senator and Cuomo was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under former President Bil lClinton.

Cuomo promised to quickly follow through on rebuilding plans.

“You’re going to be impressed,” Cuomo said.

The Biden event was one of a series of announcements Cuomo has made leading up to his State of the State message. He’s already laid out a plan to cut business taxes and freeze property taxes.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.