Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to campaign for re-election as a master builder of new infrastructure has been undermined by headlines about New York City’s crumbling subway system. Meanwhile, much less public and political attention is being paid to his management of another major transportation asset: the New York state highway system.
This weekend, just days ahead of a primary that polls say he’ll win handily, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will take the wheel of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s refurbished 1932 Packard for a celebratory drive across the replacement for the old Tappan Zee Bridge.
When motorists in New York top off their gas tanks this Labor Day weekend, they’ll be paying an average of about 45 cents per gallon in state and local fuel taxes—the 5th highest total in the nation, and second highest in the Northeast.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised — loudly, proudly and publicly — that New York state will overspend on public works projects.
“The only way the state could support the capital plan would be to borrow money, and it can’t borrow because it’s too close to its debit limit – but the MTA is not,” said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy.
In their budget bills, state Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans both had the good sense to reject one of the most egregious fiscal-political gimmicks ever to emerge from Governor Andrew Cuomo: a temporary income tax credit that would have reimbursed a portion of Thruway tolls paid by New York State residents and businesses.
So you have to wonder: Is now the time to be looking at rebates on tolls – rebates that will average just $97 a motorist – when the state still has no plan in place to fully pay for the $3.98 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in the lower Hudson Valley?
In his combined State of the State and budget message last week, Gov. Cuomo officially unveiled $100 billion in “transformative" infrastructure projects — enough to “make Governor [Nelson] Rockefeller jealous.”
That wouldn’t be easy, even if it were desirable.
To finance a 15-year building binge that included most of the State University system — not to mention countless other capital projects capped by Albany’s monstrously modernist Empire State Plaza — New York’s legendary Republican governor from 1959 to 1973 quintupled state debt.
Cuomo clearly hopes his plans will be perceived as Rockefeller-esque in scope. So how does he plan to pay for it all?
The answer: for the most part, he doesn’t.