BUFFALO – If Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way, the city of Jamestown and the National Comedy Center could both benefit from the 2017-18 state budget.
On Monday, Governor Cuomo delivered his 2017 State of the State message in Buffalo as part of this week’s six-stop State of the State tour.
During his presentation at UB, the governor rolled out a wide variety of initiatives he wants to see implemented in 2017. Many of them had a focus on Western New York, including a pledge to provide $5 million in state aid to the National Comedy Center project and $2.5 million in aid to help the city finances.
“In Jamestown we’re going to leverage the cultural history and we will leverage $5 million to close the gap on the Lucille Ball Comedy Center. We think it’s going to be a great tourist attraction and we want to be a part of it,” Cuomo said, adding, “We will also provide $2.5 million to help the city of Jamestown regain its economic stability, as part of this plan.”
Specific details of where the funding will come from or how it can be used was not immediately provided. However, on Monday night, Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi explained that the city aid would likely have some strings attached.
“While he did not say this, those of us who were paying attention to the speech and hanging on every word did take notice that prior to [the funding announcement], he was talking about local governments becoming more efficient,” Teresi explained to city council members during Monday’s meeting. “And while the governor did not give any details, our read of it is that it is very much contingent upon our continuing efforts to follow through with the proposed program of different restructuring initiatives that we’ve been discussing with [city council] and discussing with the state.”
Teresi said he also expects the funding to be part of the state’s 2017-18 budget process.
“I would guess that it’s contingent on the upcoming budget process and these will be proposals I would expect to see as line items in the governor’s executive budget coming forward later in the month, and then be subject to the regular budget process with the legislature,” Teresi explained.
In addition to announcing the funding for Jamestown, the governor announced several other initiatives, including $500 million in funding for the city of Buffalo as the next phase of the Buffalo Billion program. And he said the state would once again offer Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding to a community in Western New York. In 2016, Jamestown was the winning recipient and received $10 million in economic development funding.
Among other highlights was a call to provide $2 billion in funding statewide to improve water infrastructure across the State. He also said officials will continue to work to identify ways to reduce the property tax burden in communities across the New York. And the governor again made a call for free college education at SUNY schools for low and middle income families.
Overall, the governor said that state of the state is stronger than it has been in decades, and he’s urging lawmakers to continue to implement program and policy to help with an economic recovery.
The complete State of the State address can be found online. It will also be broadcast on WRFA this Thursday at 5 p.m. as part of our Community Matters program.