Gov. Kathy Hochul told a prominent fiscal watchdog group on Tuesday evening she wants to make "historic investments" in green infrastructure projects that are meant to counter the rising problems associated with climate change.
The comments at the Citizens Budget Commission's annual gala in New York City come as the new Hochul administration is beginning to shape its own priorties for the coming 2021 legislative session and budget negotiations.
Meanwhile, Congress is still hashing out the details of an infrastructure bill that could send billions of dollars to the states, with money that could be used for hardening roads and bridges against extreme weather.
"I'm committed to New York making historic investments in smart, resilient and green infrastructure," Hochul said in comments alongside U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "We're going to be rebuilding our roads and investing in water and climate infrastructure, leading the way on clean energy and transforming our airports, and affordable housing as well. And delivering the public transportation systems that New Yorkers deserve."
The state's goals of sharply reducing carbon emissions, including a planned phase out of gas vehicles by 2035, will require an increase in power sources as well as infrastructure for the millions of charging stations needed to power electric vehicles.
New York's first natural disaster came early in her young tenure as governor. In August, the remnants of a hurricane hit the New York City area, leading to flash floods that washed out roads and major parkways as well as basement-level apartments.
The flooding, which killed dozens, has led to calls for improving the state's sewer and stormwater management as well as making residences safer for rising flood waters, especially in low-income communities.
"We're going to be bold and aggressive because we have no choice," Hochul said. "And that's how I am anyhow. And we could not have a better partner in federal government and I'm a former member of Congress. I know how the levers of government are so incredibly powerful in Washington when they work closely with the states."