The New York State Department of Transportation is slated to receive a slight funding increase in Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal.
The two-year capital plan allots for about a 33 percent funding increase, which roughly equates to an increase of $3 billion.
However, funding for certain programs that specifically target upstate roads and bridges, such as the CHIPS program, are left out of these increases.
State Senator Tim Kennedy, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said that the CHIPS program has not seen a funding increase for roughly a decade.
Transportation Chair @SenKennedy points out that Governor's budget does not include additional CHIP funding, Bridge NY funding, Pave NY funding— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) January 26, 2021
“We’re already hearing our local governments clamoring for more funding.”
"Why are we not prioritizing local roads?"
“We know that these not only work to keep our roads, and our bridges and our infrastructure across the state sound and improve the quality of life in our communities, but at the same time, it creates jobs,” Senator Kennedy emphasized during a legislative budget hearing on Tuesday. “We’re already hearing our local governments clamoring for more funding for these programs.”
The extreme winter recovery fund, which is distributed the same way as the CHIPS program, was also left out of the governor’s proposal for the second time.
In 2019, at the 11th hour during budget negotiations, the legislature was able to secure $65 million for this fund.
State Transportation Department Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said this will once again come down to budget negotiations between lawmakers and Cuomo.
Marie Dominguez, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Transportation testifying during joint budget hearing on Transportation: DOT team "quickly pivoted to play a permanent role in Governor Cuomo's COVID-19 response efforts."— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) January 26, 2021
Distributed 2.5 million test kits to nursing homes
The budget hearing also focused on funding equity between upstate and downstate projects.
Senator Tom O’Mara pointed out how the MTA receives almost double the amount the State Transportation Department does each year.
Commissioner Dominguez countered, however, saying that the Transportation Department relies on federal aid for more than 40 percent of its spending and the MTA relies on federal aid for about 20 percent of its spending.
Therefore, since the Transportation Department receives more from the federal government, it needs less from the state budget, Commissioner Dominguez rationalized.
“It’s not a direct correlation," Dominguez said.
Senator Tom O’Mara disagreed with this assessment saying, “I guess I would like to see some point of clarification or breakout of how that works because I can tell you that is not the way my constituents and many across upstate New York view that.”