Cuomo to upstate NY: 'We're going to make up for the years you were abandoned'
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated his positions on some major issues facing central New York while giving a speech in Syracuse on Thursday. Cuomo gave a positive outlook for upstate and double downed on his commitment to investing in the region.
Speaking at a sustainable development conference, Cuomo said upstate is heading in the right direction.
"We will invest in upstate New York, like we have invested in upstate New York because we have our finances in order and we can do it," Cuomo said. "We're going to make up for the years that you were abandoned by the state because it was wrong, it was short-sided, it was a tragedy."
The unemployment rate for Onondaga County went from more than eight percent just four years ago down to around four percent today. Cuomo said the spirit of the region is coming back and for proof he points to the Onondaga Lake cleanup, new amphitheater and $50 million facelift for the New York State Fair.
“You go there you’re not going to recognize the place anymore,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said the replacement of Interstate-81 through downtown Syracuse could build on that momentum. He emphasized a decision needs to be made quickly so construction can begin but understands not everyone will approve.
“Make a decision and go," Cuomo said. "Find the best solution with the most agreement, but move forward. I-81 did a lot of damage. It was a classic planning blunder. Let's build a road and bisect and entire community. That's an idea! Let's do that, cut it right in half. Part of this is acknowledging the mistake and going back and repairing it."
Cuomo also said he thinks the economy could be helped if more small governments in central New York consolidated.
“Isn’t there a way to find some coordination and savings among them?" Cuomo asked. "There has to be.”
Cuomo called on the colleges and universities in central New York to train students for jobs coming into the region such as advanced manufacturing.
“If you don’t have the jobs, you have nothing,” Cuomo said.
He said upstate has been struggling for decades, forgotten by the state government, but told local political and business leaders to stay positive, he is on their side.