By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said today the $2.2 billion - at least - windfall New York state is receiving from Monday's settlement with France's largest bank should be dedicated for long-term infrastructure improvements.
Astorino said $500 million of the new money should go to removing the state's canal system from the financial responsibility of the state Thruway Authority, an early 1990s budget-balancing manuever long criticized as a fiscal gimmick by critics.
Here is his release:
New York--July 2 -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York State, today challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo to dedicate the $2.2 billion windfall from the BNP Paribas bank settlement to long-term capital projects to shore up New York's decaying rail and highway infrastructure. The money would otherwise go into New York's general fund where it would be used for day-to-day operating expenses.
Mr. Astorino also proposed a long-term fix to the 1992 Mario Cuomo decision to divert Thruway Authority toll revenue to the Canal Corporation, thus stripping New York's roads and bridges of their historic stream of infrastructure funding. The County Executive said that $500 million in BNP Paribas settlement funds could be used to cover Canal Corporation costs over the next seven years, an entity whose costs could then be returned to the state's general fund. Thruway Authority money could then be re-dedicated to highway infrastructure, as it was originally intended to be.
"The BNP Paribas settlement presents New York with a real opportunity to shore up its aging Thruway and MTA infrastructure and to fix a bad policy decision that has robbed New York's roads of badly needed repairs," County Executive Astorino said. "Fixing bridges and roadways may not be a sexy endeavor -- it may not come with ribbon cuttings -- but it is of critical necessity to the economic future of this state and to the safety of New York motorists. This is an enormous amount of money, and we have an opportunity to spend it wisely, rather than to put it into the hands of a government that is already spending New York to death."