Patterson "Wish List" to Obama

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Governor Paterson Sends Economic Recovery “Wish List” to President Elect Obama <!–[endif]–>NYC Not on U.S. Mayor’s “Ready To Go” Infrastructure Project List

Governor David A. Paterson sent a letter to President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden offering an agenda for federal aid to states. In the letter dated Dec. 29, 2008, Governor Paterson said, “No state has been more severely impacted by this crisis than New York, the home of Wall Street and the global capital of business and finance. Our recovery plan includes initiatives that the Empire State needs the most right now—not only to overcome the current crisis, but to begin laying the foundation for the economy of the future.”

Gov. Paterson asked for any economic recovery package to be considered by Congress to include: $500 billion in aid to states and working families, including $250 billion for countercyclical programs such as Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP), unemployment insurance, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child care; and $250 billion for flexible education block grants to states.

Paterson also asked for an additional $300 billion for infrastructure investments, including funds for “ready-to-go” projects to rehabilitate and construct our transportation, water, schools, housing, broadband, and health information technology infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs in the near-term, and supporting economic development, public health and safety for decades to come; and funds for longer-term projects, which have transformative regional impacts, create green jobs, and support national goals for energy efficiency, environmental conservation and smart growth.

The governor pledged to work with New York’s congressional delegation, municipal officials and county leaders to develop a list of their important infrastructure and development priorities. “Infrastructure investments will not only put people to work now, they will support economic growth for decades to come,” Paterson said. “It is estimated that for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure, 30,000 jobs are created. Using this estimate, New York could create as many as 351,000 jobs statewide.”

Paterson’s NYS plan has at least 1,922 infrastructure projects, totaling $11.7 billion that can be “ready-to-go” (i.e., federal funds can be obligated within 180 days). Of these “ready-to-go” projects, 481 are traditional infrastructure projects (i.e., transportation — including highways and bridges, MTA and non-MTA systems, rail, and aviation — and water), totaling $5.0 billion. Using the broad definition of infrastructure that you have proposed, New York has an additional 1,231 “ready-to-go” projects for school modernization, affordable housing, state parks, rural broadband, and health information technology, totaling $5.3 billion. The NYS plan has at least 210 energy-related projects and programs totaling $1.4 billion that are “ready to go.”

Paterson supports the proposal to fund a second tier of critical, longer-term infrastructure projects that advance new national goals. “New York has billions of dollars worth of additional projects that could begin construction within 24 months that will further this agenda and advance new national goals. The federal government should provide engineering funds to accelerate the design of these projects.”

The U.S Conference of Mayors has compiled a list of economic development projects from 641 cities across the country. “Mainstreet Economic Recovery: ‘Ready to Go’ Jobs and Infrastructure Projects” lists 15,221 local infrastructure projects representing an infrastructure investment of $96,638,313 that would be capable of producing an estimated 1,221,677 jobs in 2009 and 2010. Cities from Los Angeles to Newark have posted projects for community block grants for infrastructure, energy block grants for infrastructure and green jobs, transit equipment and infrastructure, city streets/ metro roads, airport technology and infrastructure, Amtrak infrastructure, water and wastewater infrastructure, school modernization, public housing modernization, and public safety jobs and technology.

New York City is not on the list.

City Hall spokeman Mark LaVorgna said infrastructure development is a “top priority.” He said Mayor Bloomberg has formed a national coalition with Governors Rendell and Schwartzenegger called Build America’s Future. “The city has the largest capital plan for investment,” said LaVorgna. “Due to the downturn that was announced about 6 months ago, the capitol plan was stretched out from 4 to 5 years.”

LaVorgna referred to the Office of Budget and Management’s lists of the City’s capital projects waiting for funding, released Nov. 5. “No one in the federal government has asked the City to submit a list,” LaVorgna said. “We are waiting to see what cities are asked to do.”

In late Dec., The Bloomberg administration sent it’s economic recovery policy recommendations to NY’s congressional delegation. The administration’s priorities for the federal economic recovery bill include: investment in ready-to-go public infrastructure, fiscal assistance for cities, strengthened municipal credit markets, workforce development, and enhanced social service programs.

Al Vann, chair of the City Council’s Community Development committee, said the council has “no direct access” to the city’s economic stimulus plan. “To be fair, it is the Mayor’s responsibility to oversee the city’s economic development.” Vann said the City has been working on an “infrastructure wish list”, but he has not seen it.

Councilman Vann said he did not foresee council district specific projects, since the infrastructure projects include roads, bridges, and schools – projects that benefit the city as a whole. He hoped any jobs created would be allocated “according to the greatest need” based upon high poverty rates and unemployment. Vann pointed out the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), a Bloomberg initiative. He said through Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, the Bloomberg administration has worked with local economic development groups, including the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford Stuyvesant, assisting them in responding to economic development proposals. According to Vann, Bedford Stuyvesant is ready to take advantage of any economic recovery programs the Obama administration may sign into law.