New York state has been presented with a unique opportunity. For once, rather than being faced with a multi-billion-dollar deficit, this year the state has approximately $5 billion in spare cash.
This is a happy problem.
According to an op-ed piece by E.J. McMahon in the N.Y. Post, this isn’t a surplus. Rather, it’s a one-time cash infusion, a windfall, most of it coming from massive financial penalties levied against financial institutions for violating federal and state law.
This is a major win for the state. Our three legislative leaders, Governor Cuomo, Sen. Dean Skelos and Speaker Sheldon Silver, have all suggested that making a major investment in our state’s infrastructure should be a priority. I couldn’t agree more.
“It’s a one-shot revenue,” said Silver. “It should be a one-shot expenditure, and we should invest in infrastructure.”
Our bridges, roads and other infrastructure are in dire need of improvements. Hurricane Sandy exacerbated the problem. The Herald has addressed how much of the New York Rising funding is being allocated to “resiliency” projects through the Community Reconstruction Program. For example, this money will improve storm bulkheads and storm water management, to name a few projects.
On a larger scale, however, throughout the state, it is clear that many of our roads and bridges have to be rebuilt, and our mass-transit systems need major repairs. Our infrastructure showed many weaknesses after Hurricane Sandy. Many of our sewage and waster water treatment plants, Bay Park in particular, are in desperate need of upgrades.
Now, with this new money, it’s like the state won the lottery. And let’s not forget that infrastructure projects create real jobs. It’s a win-win.
Remember that this is a one-time shot in the arm, and not by any means an annual infusion. McMahon smartly points out that the Legislature may try to spend the money on school aid increases, but the governor has rejected the idea. You can’t increase school aid for one year because you have the money. What happens in future years?