Every January, Gov. Cuomo performs a political Kabuki dance.
First there are leaks to favored newspapers describing his big spending plans for their regions. Then there’s editorials praising his “farsighted” proposals. Finally, there’s the governor’s State of the State address before cheering sycophants detailing how he will spend hard-earned dollars of over-taxed citizens.
And this year, after announcing $100 billion in construction projects, he made this pronouncement: “Government has gotten too good at announcing plans that never actually materialize. I am in the opposite business….”
Let’s do a reality check: In 2012, Cuomo declared the Javits Convention Center was obsolete and proposed building the nation’s largest convention center. It didn’t materialize.
Two years later, Cuomo claimed he would “assume management authority from the Port Authority for construction at JFK and LaGuardia Airports.” He never followed through.
We are also still waiting for the results of the 90-day “Request for Proposals” to redesign JFK Airport announced in early 2015.
Then there is Cuomo’s proposal to build a light rail connecting LaGuardia to the No. 7 subway and the Long Island Rail Road at the Willets Point Terminal in Queens. That’s getting nowhere.
Remember Cuomo’s “New York Works Fund and Task Force” which was to coordinate capital investment in New York’s infrastructure? Haven’t heard a word about that in years.
So much for Cuomo’s boast he’s in the business of making projects materialize.
As for this year’s $100 billion grab bag of projects, don’t hold your breath waiting for shovels in the ground.
Putting aside the merits of his plans, the key question is, “Where’s the money coming from?”
Future revenues of state transportation agencies, (i.e., M.T.A., Thruway Authority, Port Authority) have already been committed.
If every dime of the state’s share of Wall Street fines is committed to financing Cuomo projects, it will only be a small down payment.
As for the feasibility of the projects, here’s my take on a few of them:
Penn State Renovation: In the spring of 1995, as executive director of the Port Authority, I attended a meeting with Gov. Pataki’s chief of staff, the chairmen of the M.T.A. and Urban Development Corporation and a member of Sen. Pat Moynihan’s staff to quick-start the new “Moynihan” station.
Twenty-one years later, it’s still stalled. Cuomo’s glowing press releases, an artist’s rendition of the new station and absurd federal funding assumptions won’t get the project moving.
Long Island Sound Tunnel Study: Spending $5 million to determine the feasibility of a tunnel from Oyster Bay to Westchester or Connecticut is a waste of precious dollars.
Instead the governor should save the money by utilizing the study commissioned by developer Vincent Polimeni in 2007 or by digging up Gov. Carey’s 1979 tri-state advisory study and the 1965 Bertram Tallamy Associates report prepared for the state Department of Public Works.
A Long Island Sound Link will never be constructed for two reasons: First, the residents of Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut don’t want it.
Secondly, the untold billions of dollars needed to construct the tunnel will never materialize.
Shoreham Deepwater Port: This Cuomo project will never get anywhere.
Even if one could get past the environmental issues, the required rail link to the LIRR will never get off the drawing board and it’s unlikely that there will be enough potential cargo ship traffic to make the facility financially feasible.
LIRR Third Rail: Good luck on that one.
While I support it, I can already hear cries of opposition in my New Hyde Park neighborhood. This project has gotten nowhere since first proposed in the 1960s because spineless state Legislators and local officials will not stand up to the NIMBYs.
One last note: Cuomo’s claim that his $100 billion infrastructure program “would make Governor Rockefeller jealous” is very disturbing.
Lest we forget, after 15 years of Rocky’s free-wheel spending policies, New Yorkers were the most heavily taxed citizens in the nation, the state had the highest public debt in the nation and was on the verge of insolvency.
We can’t afford Rockefeller redux.