A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is below:
Well thank you very much. It is my pleasure to be here; this is an exciting day. First to Commissioner Matt Driscoll who made this happen and by the way is making great things happen all across the state – let’s give him a round of applause, Commissioner Matt Driscoll. We did leave Senator Young and Senator Gallivan back in Albany to go through the tedious process of discussion legislation and we came here to actually get some things going, but this is really in many ways a perfect metaphor for Western New York.
Change is coming, big change is coming. It is coming quickly and it is coming after a period of sustained inaction. You know, when you think about Western New York, we went through a very big period where we weren’t making progress and people were getting depressed and getting disappointed and frankly people were leaving. They didn’t see a future.
Everybody was talking about the good old days, what we used to do in the good old days but there wasn’t enough talking about what we we’re going to do in the future. We saw our young people leave, we saw our businesses leave. This was a state that kept raising taxes every year and literally taxed people right out of the state. You tax people enough, they will vote with their feet and they leave. And they did that, especially in Western New York. Things that should’ve been done just weren’t happening. People were talking about it, debating about it but nothing was happening and there were no resources. And the truth? The state government was not paying enough attention to Western New York. That is the truth. The state government was focused more on Downstate, New York City, and Upstate New York and Western New York were not getting the resources they deserve. I say that as someone from Downstate New York.
I became Governor six years ago and I said, “Look, it’s foolish not to invest in Upstate New York. It’s foolish. It’s wrong, and it doesn’t even make sense economically. This is one state. We are one family. We should invest in the entire state. If upstate New York does better economically, the entire state does better economically because we’re one balance sheet at the end of the day.” So when Upstate is stronger, everybody is stronger.
Six years ago, we reversed course. And we said we’re going to work in Upstate New York, and invest in Upstate New York, and pay attention and time and effort like no administration has done in history. I’m proud to be able to look you in the eye and say no Governor, and no state administration has done more for Western New York than this administration and the proof is in the pudding. So, 219 is a perfect example. Ten years of talking about 219, and what should be done and what needs to be done, but nothing happened. Why? Because it took focus, it took resources, it took the state to help, and today is a different day. Today is a day of progress.
As the commissioner noted, the way we do it is different. We don’t presume to sit in Albany and say, “Well, we know what’s best for you. We know what’s best for Cattaraugus County. We’re that good that we can sit in Albany and tell you what you should be doing.” My grandfather used to say, “The most important thing to know in life is to know what you don’t know.” Right? You can have a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in Albany telling you what’s best for Cattaraugus and what’s best for Salamanca, and what’s best for Springfield, and what’s best for Ellicottville. You know better than the bureaucrats in Albany so what we’re doing here today is following your advice and following your guidance. You were right. 219 doesn’t work. You bypass communities, you could actually kill communities. The inverse is also true: you accelerate transportation, you can accelerate tourism, accelerate commerce, and that is exactly what we’re doing.
We’re replacing a bridge that needed to be replaced, but we are continuing the transportation system and the access. I believe it’s actually going to drive more economic growth, more commerce, more tourism, and this is actually an investment in the entire community. So it our pleasure to be part of it. Now hopefully what happens is we push this plunger and 35 million pounds of steel falls to the ground. Just so we’re clear: if it works, it was all my idea. If it doesn’t work, Commissioner Driscoll was in charge of everything. Let’s join us up here and let’s blow up a bridge.