|Release: Cuomo transcript and Youtube video of remarks March 10 at Somos el Futuro dinner in Albany.|
VIDEO, AUDIO & RUSH TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR CUOMO DELIVERS REMARKS AT THE 2018 SOMOS GALA & DINNER
"Now our obligation as a New York government is to show the actual differentiation to what that federal government is doing. And our agenda is very simple: it's justice for all, opportunity for all, discrimination of none."
Earlier this evening, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks at the 2018 SOMOS Gala & Dinner.
VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Are we having a good night tonight? How about that Marcos Crespo? What a beautiful talent, what a great legislator, what a great representative for this State of New York. We talk about young talent. You watch this man, because he's a shooting star. Let's give Marcos Crespo a big round of applause.
Our great Speaker, Carl Heastie, let's give him a round of applause. It was good to see the Speaker in those pictures actually doing some work, wasn't it? He had a nasty face when he was holding that rake, though. It's been a long time.
To my colleagues in the Legislature. I want you to know that this New York Legislature, the SOMOS Legislature, has passed more progressive legislation than any legislature since FDR. That's what this Legislature has done. $15 minimum wage, Paid Family Leave, marriage equality, universal pre-k, raise the age, closed more prisons than any administration in history. Ended fingerprinting for food stamps. Let's give them a round of applause.
To all the VIPs who are here, and to our special guest, who came all the way to New York, Ana Navarro. Let's give Ana Navarro a round of applause. It's a pleasure to be with Ana. I also need to apologize to Ana. Because Ana works with my brother Christopher on CNN. And I don't know how many of you know my brother Christopher. But he is a very difficult personality. He is. We love each other, we love each other as family, but the truth matters, and he is very, very difficult. He always has been difficult, Ana, I don't want you to think it's just about you. You get an insight about him because he grew up here in Albany. We're not quite sure what happened to make him the way he is. We had a group in the Mansion yesterday where he grew up, which is why I call him Mansion boy, which he really hates. And there's' a very large set of stairs and at one point he fell down the flight of stairs and he landed on his head at the end of the stairs and we think that might be what happened, but we're not really sure. He was also a very skinny, sickly kid in school. And he never got picked for any teams. He had no coordination. He's a terrible athlete. He had no sense of humor. Kind of funny looking guy. So maybe that's what it was.
But Ana, the truth is we don't really know what it was, because he's adopted. So there's a whole big part of his life that we don't know. We didn't find him actually. Somebody rang the doorbell and we opened the door and there was a basket and he was in the basket, and he was already 16 years old and he was in the basket. So those things might have something to do with it, but your patience, God bless you. Better that you deal with him than I deal with him. Ana Navarro you are a voice for truth and justice in this nation and we are honored to have you.
SOMOS is stronger than ever, and thank God because we need SOMOS stronger than ever. Because what Assemblyman Crespo said is exactly right, we are in a battle for this nation's soul. That's what this is about. It is about the definition of America and who we are as Americans. And the federal government is very clear. They say make America Great Again. The words themselves mean take us back to a different time. And they want to take us way back. If they could they would take us back to the time of the mayflower, and the Puritans, that's their America, before all these immigrants came and made it complicated.
First the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy. Because if you're not a Navajo, or an Iroquois, or a Sioux, if you're not a Native American you are an immigrant. And Donald Trump is not a Navajo or an Apache or a Sioux.
But make no mistake. Theirs is anti-immigrant agenda. They can't even be clearer. And we believe in the exact opposite. We believe America is America because of immigrants. It's immigrants that built this country and made it what it is. They believe diversity is a weakness, we believe diversity is our key strength. We believe what our founding fathers said, e pluribus unum. Out of many one. Invite them all to come, every color of skin, every religion, every creed, and we'll forge one place, one society. That's America, and that's what we're going to represent.
Now our obligation as a New York government is to show the actual differentiation to what that federal government is doing. And our agenda is very simple: it's justice for all, opportunity for all, discrimination of none. And that's what we're doing in this legislative session and that's what we did last year. Leading the nation in saying we're a state of immigrants and we are proud of it.
First Office of New Americans ever created, thanks to Rossana Rosado and Cesar Perales. Give them a round of applause. Helping people become new citizens. First Liberty Defense Project whether we provide attorneys to protect immigrants' rights against the government. First time ever they increased attacks against the immigrants, so we're going increase the Liberty Defense Project I announce tonight I propose another $5 million to the Liberty Defense Project.
Education is the key. The great promise of this country is you get an education and you can rise to the top of your talents. We passed Excelsior Scholarships because every child should be able to go to college, and no child should be denied because of their family can't afford it. And Speaker Carl Heastie is exactly right the next step is to pass the DACA Dream Act because DACA Dreamers are American Dreamers and we need a Dream Act in New York. And assemblyman Crespo is exactly right. Funding education equitably is everything. We spend more money per pupil in this state than any state in the United States. Double the national average, and I'm proud of it, but you know what I'm not proud of? Where the money goes. Because the truth is there are two education systems in this state and in this country. One for the rich and one for the poor. And yes we fund more per pupil, but the distribution is not equitable, and that is going to be the next frontier that we have to address. We give Buffalo a check but there are 50 schools in Buffalo, and some are on one side of town and some are on the other side of town. Well where does the money go among those 50 schools? We don't even know. We give New York City a check for $10 billion. There are 1600 schools in New York City. Some are on Park Avenue some are in the South Bronx. How do they distribute the money? We don't even know. But my position is this: the money should follow the need and where you have pupils who need more support, that's where the money should go. And we started it last year and we're going to finish it this year. We need equity in education funding, and we're not going to finish this budget until every city tells us where they're sending every dollar and I want to make sure poor children get the education they deserve.
Same thing with our criminal justice system. Right now the judge sets bail to determine who gets out and who doesn't get out. Which means if you have money in your pocket, you can pay the bail, you walk. And if you don't have the money, and you can't pay the bail, you sit in jail. That's not what justice is all about. It's supposed to be about merit, not money. And we want a bail system that has no cash attached. Let the judgment, the decision on the merits if the person is they stay, if not, they are released, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, it doesn't matter. Justice is supposed to be blind.
We still have discrimination in employment. We passed a $15 minimum wage which means a person doesn't have to choose between paying for rent and paying for food anymore. We passed Paid Family Leave. We passed minority job vouchers for young people that have employed thousands of young people. Borough President Ruben Diaz has done a fantastic job in the Bronx. Let's give him a round of applause.
We have the highest, the highest MWBE goal in the United State - 30 percent - and this year, we're going to make it even higher because we're going to say the state money that goes through the local governments should also have MWBE and that will increase it by billions of dollars and we're going to get that done this year.
We still have discrimination in housing. 1949 - this nation said safe, clean decent housing for every American. You have New Yorkers living in public housing with no heat, no hot water, maybe even lead paint, they don't even know. And we tell those residents that it's going to take four years to get a new boiler. Four years. Well, the residents of public housing just sued saying they don't want to wait four years for a new boiler and you know what? I'm with the residents. It's obnoxious, it's wrong, it's a disgrace and the residents of public housing deserve better. And ask yourself this, if the residents of the public housing complexes, if they were the powerful and the wealthy, do you think it would take four years to get a boiler or not?
Ask yourself this, we have a situation on Rikers Island. 70 percent of the people on Rikers Island have been convicted of nothing. 90 percent are minorities. It is the worst jail in the state of New York. Highest number of assaults, highest number of attacks, highest number of deaths. Rikers Island. So bad that the federal government came in and said it's an ongoing civil rights violation. The city has said it's going to take 10 years to build a new jail. 10 years. That's two mayors from now. I probably won't even be here in 10 years. 10 years to build a new jail. It's taking us five years to build a new LaGuardia Airport. It's taken us five years to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. It took us one year to build Yankee Stadium. How the hell can it take you 10 years to build a jail? If you wanted to do it, you would do it, and by the way if it was the children of the wealthy that were sitting in Rikers Island, I'll bet you this, it wouldn't be 10 years to build a jail if they had the money and the wealth and the connections and the resources and that's not true justice.
Last point is, we know where the federal government is going. You just follow the dots. More ICE raids than ever before. An assault on TPS. The rally in Charlottesville where they said, 'Well, there are good people on both sides.' My friends, there is no good white supremacist, by definition. They want to end healthcare for the poor. They're holding the Dreamers hostage because Trump wants his wall.
There is no good white supremacist by definition. They want to end health care for the poor. They're holding the Dreamers hostage because Trump wants his wall. You know why he wants his wall? Not because he wants border protection. If you wanted border protection, you'd get technology, lasers, lights, cameras. He wants the wall to vindicate his promise in the campaign. He wants the wall as a symbol that says we're keeping those people out. He said he wants a wall and we said we want a bridge. And he wants to deliver his wall and those Democrats in Washington better stand up and not build his damn wall and not vindicate that division and his belief in America.
And what they did in Puerto Rico, what they did in Puerto Rico was just another dot on that line. They abandoned the people of Puerto Rico. Pure and simple, they abandoned the people of Puerto Rico. They were not there before. They were not there the day of. They haven't been there since and these are our American brothers and sisters but it doesn't fit their picture of the Mayflower, so they abandon the people of Puerto Rico. Marcos Crespo and I and Nydia Velasquez, first flight down the next day because we want them to know New York stands with Puerto Rico. Over 1,000 people - our utility workers and we just announced another effort, starting this summer where we're going to take SUNY students and CUNY students and our construction workers and we're going to go down in Puerto Rico and rebuild it home by home by home all across the island.
And we are not going to let this nation forget what they have done to the people of Puerto Rico, and I accept this award in the name of the thousands of volunteers who went down and the thousands of New Yorkers who opened their hearts and opened their checkbooks and gave whatever they could to the people of Puerto Rico, because that's who we are and that's what we believe. We're going to make New York a shining example of how wrong this government is. Immigration is our strength. Fairness is our strength. Opportunity for all is our strength. And this state is going to rise higher than ever before. Thank you and God bless you.