There were also smaller-bore projects, some of which the governor has already debuted: On Monday, Mr. Cuomo said he wanted the High Line — a pedestrian walkway in Manhattan on a former elevated train track — extended to connect to the newly opened Moynihan Train Hall, a project that he hoped would spur development in the surrounding neighborhoods, already some of the city’s richest.
The governor’s address comes two years after Democrats retook full control of state government in 2019, when the Legislature had one the most productive sessions in recent memory, passing a flurry of progressive priorities that had long been stymied by Republicans who controlled the State Senate. By contrast, many of the objectives Mr. Cuomo unveiled last year were derailed or overshadowed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the governor’s arguably two most popular proposals — the legalization of pot and mobile sports betting — will require resolving disagreements with legislative leaders over how best to implement them.
Legalizing recreational marijuana, for example, is expected to generate billions of dollars in economic activity and about $300 million in tax revenue in its first year, but legalization efforts have previously fallen apart following disputes over who should get licenses and how to spend the tax money. To be sure, marijuana tax dollars would not immediately solve the state’s budget crisis; much of the money wouldn’t materialize until years down the road.
Mr. Cuomo long opposed legalization — he described weed as a “gateway drug” just a few years ago — but his position evolved in 2018 as neighboring states spearheaded similar efforts and Mr. Cuomo faced a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, a progressive who made marijuana legalization a tenet of her campaign.
Since the discovery of the virus in New York last March, Mr. Cuomo has been a near-constant presence in public, giving almost-daily briefings on the virus’s toll — no state has more deaths than New York — and a cascade of other crises, including the demonstrations over racial inequality last summer.
The governor is now trying to remedy a sluggish vaccine rollout in New York, which has seen sharp increases in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths during the worst period yet in the coronavirus crisis. Mr. Cuomo has harshly criticized the federal response and said his own government’s vaccine plan is being hamstrung by the limited supply of vaccine to the states.