Critical Budget Cycle For Upstate Transit Needs

There is an old saying about umpires and referees- when they’re doing a good job, you don’t notice them. The relationship between citizens and their public infrastructure is similar. When our bridges are sound and our roads are safe, we don’t tend to notice. However, when our roads are in disrepair, when they have pot holes, and when they aren’t plowed properly, we do.  

Hardworking taxpayers should be able to count on reliable, safe infrastructure. This week, I joined dozens of my colleagues in both the Assembly and Senate in sending a letter to the governor demanding that this year’s budget delivers for upstate motorists.

State aid for local roads and bridges has been held flat for years while the cost of needed materials and labor has gone up. That’s why we’re seeking a $150 million increase in state aid to maintain and repair local roads and bridges.

It’s a common-sense allocation. Every dollar we spend maintaining locally-owned roads and bridges saves property taxpayers up to $14 down the line. For many municipalities that are struggling to deliver needed services while staying under the 2 percent tax cap, this state aid is the only resource they have to resurface roads and maintain bridges.

Don’t let anyone tell you  the resources aren’t there. The governor has touted himself as an infrastructure champion. He’s quick to remind reporters that we are in the midst of a ten-year, $275 billion investment in infrastructure. This year, he wants to bump state spending to $178 billion. His budget earmarks tens of billions of dollars for public transit downstate. In this context, asking for $150 million more to provide local governments across the state with some help to ensure  their local roads and bridges are safe for school buses, emergency responders and families making the morning commute is completely reasonable.

Budgeting is about priorities. Cutting waste, fraud and abuse in state government is critically important for two reasons. First of all, we want to save taxpayers money any way we can. Secondarily, it’s extremely important we have the resources we need to invest in what really matters. Transportation safety truly matters. That’s why I’m fighting for the funding we deserve upstate. 

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