On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled the budget for 2020 and it has been deemed somewhat harmful to upstate New Yorkers by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford.
Currently, the budget will account for $11.9 billion to go to upstate roads while $51 billion is set to go towards New York City transportation. Seward described this element of the budget as a “slap in the face” to upstate residents.
“We need to focus on parity when it comes to infrastructure, school aid and community needs. Case in point, the governor’s proposal includes $51 billion for New York City transportation needs and only $11.9 billion for upstate roads and bridges,” Seward said.
The budget of $51 billion is set to go towards Mass Transit Administration (MTA) reforms and “dedicated” funding streams to the MTA.
Changes to the MTA include eliminating the internet tax advantage, implementing a progressive mansion tax and a Central Business District tolling program.
Fourth-year history major Jenna Palme is also a Brooklyn resident who, when home, uses New York City transportation at least every weekday.
Palme believes that the budget for New York City transportation and upstate roads could be distributed “better, as $11.9 billion, while a lot of money, looks like very little next to $51 billion.”
“Yet, I do believe the NYC transportation system needs a large budget to be maintained, as millions of people depend on the bus and train lines to get to work, get food or to fulfill other responsibilities every day,” Palme said. “I know right now, the MTA is trying to add more elevators to train stations to make them more accessible because in most cases you have to go down several flights of stairs to catch the trains.”
Seward also pointed out that the budget will put New York State at a $6 billion deficit.
“We have a $6 billion deficit to close and we cannot do that by raising taxes or shifting costs to our local governments,” according to Seward’s Facebook page. “We need to control state spending, make New York more affordable, increase economic opportunities and revise the bail reforms that are eroding public safety.”
The State Operating Funds spending is $102.1 billion, which includes the general fund and other state-supported activities. Additionally, all funds will be spending $175.5 billion for the 2020 fiscal year.
The New York State budget hearings began on Monday, Jan. 27 and are set to conclude Thursday, Feb. 13.
Among some of the other expenditures in the budget include increased funding for higher education, ensuring access to affordable housing, combatting poverty, ensuring immigrant rights and advancing reproductive justice.