Every year, every region of New York battles for a finite number of state dollars, but for several reasons that struggle is even more prevalent this coming legislative session than years past.
"The equitable distribution of resources between downstate and upstate is a priority of mine and it has been for many years,” said state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo. “Now we're looking forward to taking these initiatives head on and we're looking forward to coming up with strong solutions for these issues.”
Democrats now control both houses of the state Legislature and the governor's office. In geographic terms, that means power is essentially consolidated to New York City and Long Island.
"We are the center of the global economy," Kennedy said. "The financial center of the universe is New York City."
The governor already has signaled funding New York City's crumbling Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway system will be a priority. However, Kennedy, a Western New Yorker, is the new chairman of the influential state senate Transportation Committee.
"To have an upstater in the position of Transportation chair, I think it not only is a demonstration that the people in Albany and the leadership are listening to the needs of our community, but it shows that we in Western New York are taken seriously and upstate is going to have a voice, not only at the table but at the front of the table," he said.
Kennedy said making sure upstate and Western New York get their fair share remain his number one priority.
"Region 5, which represents Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua County, we believe has unfortunately been cut out of a lot of transportation funds that we have had to fight to not only restore but then maintain," he said.
But he said he recognizes the importance not only of the subway but the Metro North System and the Long Island railway toward supporting the state's economy and the more than 50 million tourists who visit New York City every year.
"Public transportation is essential and we have to make sure that it's properly funded, that these agencies have the right amount of resources in order to keep the trains running on time, keep the buses moving and moving people effectively," Kennedy said.
The new chairman also pointed out the transportation deals with roads, bridges, waterways and other forms of infrastructure, all of which are important.