Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
The Andrew Cuomo 2014 Committee is proud of the Governor's infrastructure bank, so proud it wasted no time sending out an email touting the so-called "New York Works" program as "the cornerstone of this budget."
The New York Works program was finalized as part of Tuesday''s budget deal. It would use $232 million in capital funds and $917 million in new federal funds for a total of $1.2 billion in new spending. That funding would, in turn, leverage private resources to inject $15 billion into infrastructure spending.
The fund would also pool planning resources across 45 state agencies. Among the agencies and authorities the Governor calls out in a brief on the plan are the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the MTA, and the Department of Transportation.
"Yesterday was an exciting day for New York," begins the email, which landed in mailboxes Wednesday afternoon.
In the past year, infrastructure spending has gone out of of favor, particularly among Republicans. Governors Chris Christie in New Jersey, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and Rick Scott in Florida all killed big rail projects, and Republicans in Congress have balked at passing a surface transportation bill, which runs out at the end of this month.
So it's notable that Governor Cuomo sees infrastructure spending as part of his ticket to electoral success. His email describes New York Works "as a new and smarter strategy for putting New Yorkers back to work by rebuilding our aging infrastructure and helping put our state's economy back on track."
The Governor will also name nine of 15 members of a task force to decide on projects -- the legislature will name the remaining six. The governor is promising to post the projects on line so "New Yorkers can track the projects in their community" in real time. The list will be posted "over the next several days."
Infrastructure banks already operate in several states; President Barack Obama has tried and failed to get one through Congress.