BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo Friday where he signed a new law that will require all internet service providers who operate in New York state to offer high-speed internet for $15 per month for eligible low-income families.

According to the governor, the $15 per month package will include all equipment and fees associated with high-speed internet service.

“The key to success is always the same, it is access: Access to education , access to capital, access to banking; it is about access,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Access today is not a highway system, it’s not a phone call. Access today is the internet system and the broadband system.

The governor said this law is the first of its kind in the nation.

“So we’re going to sign a law today that is very simple, but very profound,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The law requires all ISPs in the state, if you do business in this state, all internet providers must provide offer high speed internet at an affordable cost: $15 per month, period. All equipment, all fees, etc. That’s the cost that they must provide to any low-income family in this state and low income are people who qualify for government assistance. That, my friend , is how we democratize access to society and services.”

“People need to have access to good quality internet,” said Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-141). “I think most people are walking around with a smart phone, but that doesn’t mean they have access to internet. I know there are some people who are literally bringing their children to the library to do homework, people sitting in their cars outside McDonald’s, Taco Bell, just to get access to the Wi-Fi.”

The governor said the affordable broadband law was the result from the findings from the Reimagine New York State Commission, formed earlier in the pandemic to “maximize opportunities for positive transformation in this moment.”

“The Reimagine Commission was one of the best minds on the globe, literally, who gave us their time in all different fields to assess the situation and find out how to learn and how to grow,” Gov. Cuomo said.

“We ranked that this issue of universal connectivity as the first and most important that has come out of Reimagine New York,” said Dr. Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and commission member. “I’m beyond proud of what this state has done to make this $15 per month affordable internet law for the right people.”

“The law says if you are a low income family, the company cannot charge you more than $15 per month,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is the law. Do I expect pushback from the companies? Yes, the companies are not happy with me and they’re not happy with the law. Why? because they will make less profit. I understand that, but also this is a franchise that they have in the state of New York and I take a different posture against these big corporations then they’re accustomed to.

“15 a month, total fee. Not ‘then taxes.’ Total fee,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Yes that will limit the profit of some of these big corporations, but trust me they’re not going to starve.”

For new coronavirus numbers, the governor announced the following data:

  • 232,929 COVID-19 tests reported Thursday
  • 6,555 new cases
  • 2.81% statewide positivity rate
  • 43 new deaths
  • 3,884 hospitalized

“The COVID crisis is not over,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is better, but it is not over. We shouldn’t act like this is over. We have to appreciate that we have made progress, but we are still dealing with it. It’s been an international event that has done tremendous damage all across the board. The damage has been unlike anything we’ve seen in my generation. It is a war, and it is a war were still in the midst of.”

The governor said, as of Friday morning:

  • 12,867,468 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in New York
  • 8,028,950 New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose
  • 5,391,121 New Yorkers full vaccinted

“Our vaccine efforts are going very well,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We are dependent on the supply from the federal government, but we have literally hundreds of vaccine distribution sites. We’re spending million of dollars on vaccine and public education on the vaccine. As you know, it’s now just a race between the rate of infection of COVID, the spread of COVID, and the number of vaccines — that’s what this is.”

Gov. Cuomo updates New Yorkers on coronavirus pandemic

The governor said while the coronavirus situation continues to improve in New York, people should remain vigilant and be aware that that the pandemic is ongoing and not over.

The governor spoke about the plan put forth by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz this week that said only vaccinated people would be allowed to attend Buffalo Bills game in the fall.

“I think his recommendation is plausible, but my position is it’s premature to try to determine what a smart policy in a few months because you don’t know the facts,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you said ‘well I had to be vaccinated,’ I would say ‘well I don’t want to be vaccinated, but I will take a test before I walk in and if I’m negative why can’t I go to the game?’ That would be one of the discussion points when we get to that decision. So all I’m saying is I understand the point, I understand the suggestion, I’m not rejecting the suggestion. It’s a theoretical possibility and there are other possibilities.”

Earlier this week, the governor announced the state is extending the 11 p.m. curfew for food and drink service to midnight beginning Monday, April 19. Catered events will extend from midnight to 1 a.m.

The governor also announced Wednesday that fans could return to auto and horse racing venues beginning next Friday — at 20% capacity and in line with current state guidance on outdoor gatherings.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we update this developing story.