NYPTA Director of Policy and Strategy Rick Swist has prepared a collection of excerpts that are of interest to the Public Transit Industry from Andrew Cuomo's campaign document: The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action. The primary transportation references include creating a state infrastructure bank, upgrading the air traffic control system, and pursuing high speed rail.
Of particular interest, Andrew Cuomo's document devotes considerable space to state government restructuring and reform, including a section on reform of public authorities that contends that the recent public authorities reform legislation did not go far enough. Also noted is the fragmented nature of transportation governance and policy-making in New York State.
According to Swist, "Anyone looking for a full-scale commitment to public transportation in the Cuomo agenda may be disappointed in what they see. Rather, in an era of shrinking resources accompanied by anti-tax and government sentiments, the general policy theme that may be divined from the report is 'salvation lies within.' All entities dependent upon the largesse of the State can expect a heavy reliance on reforms, restructuring and reallocation, and not new revenue, as a means of delivering resources to priority services and functions."
The full 224-page document can be downloaded directly from Cuomo's website by clicking here.
Excerpts from Andrew Cuomo's The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action
Rightsizing State Government (p. 61)
To restructure and right size the current bureaucratic tangle, a Cuomo Administration will establish a gubernatorial commission, called the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission ("SAGE Commission") to conduct a comprehensive review of every aspect of State government. The SAGE Commission will be directed by business leaders with experience in restructuring complex organizations and its charge will be simple: reduce the number of agencies, authorities, commissions and the like by 20 percent in the interest of saving taxpayers' money, increasing accountability, and improving the delivery of government services.
To ensure that the SAGE Commission's recommendations are implemented, a Cuomo Administration will also seek immediate passage of a "State Government Reorganization Act" that will empower the Governor to eliminate, transfer and consolidate state agencies without further legislative approval. Numerous Governors around the nation have this power, and New York's Governor must also have this authority to ensure that special interests cannot block the governmental rightsizing we need.
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Rightsizing Public Authorities (p. 67)
Accompanying the explosive growth in the Executive Branch of Government has been the emergence of New York's so-called "Fourth Branch of Government" - public authorities. First established in New York in 1921, authorities were created primarily as a means to circumvent the Constitutional requirement of voter approval of State debt. Today, the State has several hundred or more public authorities created either by statute or as subsidiaries of other authorities. These entities perform thousands of services previously provided by State agencies and/or local governments, such as mass transit, economic development and housing. Authorities are responsible for approximately 93 percent of the State's indebtedness and the ownership and operation of 85 percent of the State's infrastructure.
Although many authorities deliver essential public services, they exist outside the checks and balances that apply to other levels of government. Run by hundreds of unelected board members, authorities are responsible neither to the governor nor legislature. Many currently operate outside of their original purpose and engage in imprudent practices, such as excessive "backdoor borrowing." While the recently-enacted Public Authorities Reform Act of 2009 will enhance accountability and increase public awareness of authority operations, it will not eliminate the inherent problems that result when so many vital public functions are operated by authorities.
Rampant Redundancy in State Government (p.68)
Similarly, in 1967, the Legislature created the Department of Transportation for the purpose of developing a "comprehensive, balanced transportation policy . . . for the state . . . ." But today transportation policy is not developed by a single State agency. Instead, it is fragmented among more than 54 public authorities, ranging from the enormous Metropolitan Transportation Authority to 34 far smaller local entities operating public parking garages.
New York's Infrastructure is Obsolete (p. 99)
Great infrastructure projects, from the Erie Canal to the New York State Thruway, have played a critical part in making New York an economic power. Our roadways, railways, telecommunications systems were once among the crown jewels of the State. Today, our infrastructure is becoming obsolete and increasingly unable to meet the needs of our economy. Major projects from the Peace Bridge in Buffalo to the World Trade Center in Manhattan are stalled. New York's infrastructure, like much of the nation, lags behind our competitors in Europe and Asia.
Pieces of the Lake Champlain Bridge-once an important connection between New York and Vermont-are floating in the waters below. The Tappan Zee Bridge is almost a decade past its useful life. The MTA system - the largest network of mass transit connections in the world - is teetering on the edge of financial collapse. Our aging air traffic control system causes the worst delays in the country, costing the region $2.6 billion every year in lost economic activity. High speed rail is still only something we read about in China and Europe. Our energy infrastructure is outdated, costly and inefficient. And a small businessman in South Korea can still access the Internet ten times faster at half the price than a businessman in the Southern Tier.
Make Critical Transportation Infrastructure Investments for the 21st Century (p. 115)
Even during the current fiscal emergency, we must continue to make long-term investments in our critical transportation infrastructure. But we also need to be honest about the funding challenges we face, and explore new ways to finance and build our major infrastructure projects.
Develop a State Infrastructure Bank to Stretch Our Infrastructure Dollars (p. 115)
Too much of our infrastructure spending today is misdirected because it is managed within competing silos of State government. In order to better coordinate our infrastructure efforts and stretch limited funds, we will create a State Infrastructure Bank to better coordinate spending and take advantage of federal programs that enable states to complement traditional transportation grant programs and provide states with flexibility to offer many types of financial assistance. The State Infrastructure Bank will enable the State to undertake projects that would otherwise go unfunded or experience substantial delays.
Policy Proposal (p. 165)
- Develop a state infrastructure bank to stretch our infrastructure dollars: Create a State Infrastructure Bank to better coordinate spending and take advantage of federal programs that enable states to complement traditional transportation grant programs and provide states with flexibility to offer many types of financial assistance. The State Infrastructure Bank will operate similarly to a private bank, offering a range of loans and credit options to help finance eligible projects and enabling the State to undertake projects that would otherwise go unfunded or experience substantial delays.
Make High Speed Rail a Key Component of our Infrastructure Plans (p.116)
High Speed Rail is an example of the type of infrastructure investment that could be transformative for New York, with the potential to revitalize the Upstate economy with construction jobs now and permanent jobs created by the new high speed rail links to New York City, Toronto, and Montreal in the future. As Governor, Andrew Cuomo will upgrade our rail system at reasonable cost to enable a reliable service that averages 100 miles per hour between New York City and Albany (making this a reliable two hour trip) and then Albany to Buffalo and points in between. Furthermore, the federal government is now making a major financial investment in building a high speed rail system for the United States. The President recently announced the recipients of $8 billion in stimulus grants as the first step in the development of a US high-speed rail network. However, New York received only $151 million of the grants out of the $561 million applied for, ostensibly because these projects were not "shovel ready". A Cuomo Administration will ensure that New York has done the work necessary to put itself in a position to win more of these critical federal grants.
Policy Proposal (p.165)
- Make high speed rail a key component of our infrastructure plans: Our rail system can be upgraded at reasonable cost to enable a reliable service that averages 100 miles per hour between New York City and Albany and then Albany to Buffalo and points in between.
Improve our Air Traffic Infrastructure (p.117)
As identified by the New York City Partnership and the Regional Plan Association, flight delays caused by air traffic congestion at the three New York City airports were responsible for more than $2.6 billion in losses to the regional economy in 2008. The future of the region as a center of global commerce, finance and innovation requires an air transportation system that is efficient and universally accessible. As Governor, Andrew Cuomo will institute a 21st Century transportation infrastructure policy that addresses this issue including next generation air traffic control systems, improvement of ground traffic management and expanding the use of Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley.
Policy Proposal (p. 165)
NYPTA will continue to keep its members informed of the latest NYS government developments. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Association headquarters at 518-434-9060 or
- Lead effort to improve our air traffic infrastructure: Address flight delays due to traffic congestion that includes next generation air traffic control systems (as is being considered by the federal government), improvement of ground traffic management and expanding the use of Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley.