Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t get it done. Neither did Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Now, New York’s leading business groups are asking President Donald Trump to back funding for transit agencies and city and state budgets as part of the stalled talks over the next coronavirus aid package. The letter comes as local leaders warn of …
Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t get it done. Neither did Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Now, New York’s leading business groups are asking President Donald Trump to back funding for transit agencies and city and state budgets as part of the stalled talks over the next coronavirus aid package.
The letter comes as local leaders warn of 22,000 municipal layoffs — including sanitation workers and first responders — and massive cuts to transit service without additional help from Washington.
City and state agencies “are on the brink of having to lay off police officers, firefighters, emergency service personnel and others from the public workforce that could consequently jeopardize public safety and thus our economy,” wrote the heads three major business groups for New York City, Westchester and Long Island.
“As a businessman yourself, you understand that superior public safety leads to more private investments and business expansion, and that a lower crime rate is an asset for economic development,” they wrote. “And thus, if state and local governments lay off employees and reduce services, this will negatively impact our economy and the national recovery.”
The letter comes just days after the Partnership for New York City fired off a blistering missive to de Blasio that scolded the mayor over his failures to address quality of life issues.
Trump has highlighted New York’s surge in shootings this summer repeatedly in tweets and in campaign speeches.
Both Cuomo and de Blasio publicly pushed for a major aid package during the spring before they both switched tacts and began attacking Trump, who has refused to consider financial support for cities and states.
The standoff has resulted in repeated jousts between Trump and Cuomo through dueling press conferences in recent weeks.
De Blasio took matters a step further and literally used Gotham’s streets to needle Trump — approving the painting of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural on Fifth Avenue in front of the president’s eponymous tower.
Monday’s letter from the business chieftains beseeching Trump for aid warns the situation is particularly acute for the region’s transit network.
“Without federal relief, this will further devastate businesses that rely on mass transit and also constrain the national economic recovery,” they said, pointing out the MTA service area accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s total economic output.
Gotham is uniquely vulnerable to the local financial impacts of the pandemic compared to other cities because New York depends on its subways, buses and railroads to move people around.
Transit is a largely locally-funded affair in the U.S. In New York, the MTA is largely funded by fares, local taxes, and tolls, all of which have plummeted. The freeway networks that dominate transportation planning elsewhere in the country receive significant financial support from the feds.
The state-controlled transit authority has warned that it needs as much as $12 billion through 2021 — and will be forced to cut subway service by as much as 40 percent if there is no aid package.
Meanwhile, City Hall has threatened to layoff thousands of employees unless it gets help from Washington or borrowing authority from Albany as it seeks another $1 billion in cuts.
And Cuomo has said the state will be forced to consider its own budget cuts and tax hikes without federal aid as it faces its own $14 billion coronavirus budget shortfall.
Those state cuts could exacerbate de Blasio’s own budget woes.
Asked about the new letter Monday, Hizzoner said he was “pleased” to hear about it.
“Hopefully, people who he does have a relationship with and who he might listen to differently, because their business leaders — them weighing in for a stimulus is very helpful,” he said, but added he remained unhopeful.
“We don’t know that that is going to happen,” he said. “They’ve said no many, many times.”
Additional reporting by David Meyer and Bernadette Hogan