Sunday, December 17, 2006
N.Y. pols in pork heaven
Hey why not??? Under Bush.......New York has been getting the royal screw...look what the idiots over at Homeland Security had budgeted for us the last go around...something about New York not being a big enough terrorist target.....to warrant continued funding........andy
BY WILLIAM SHERMAN DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
The other day, Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met for breakfast at the Pershing Square restaurant in midtown.
Both men ordered oatmeal straightaway.
But even before the cereal arrived, Spitzer posed the multibillion-dollar question now on the minds of dozens of state and city officials, lobbyists and politicians at every level.
What can the city expect now that Democrats will control both houses of Congress next year?
"Money," said Schumer. "Eliot asked me how much money it would mean for the city and state in terms of programs."
Spitzer recalled, "That's right, that's exactly what I asked, and with Chuck as the third-most powerful senator on the Democratic side, we should do better. In fact, I was so focused on that, I can't even tell you who picked up the check for the breakfast."
Both men left the table in good spirits.
"It's going to be very significant dollars for New York. The pie will get bigger and our share will get bigger, although it's too soon to say exactly how much," said Schumer.
Or as Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Brooklyn Democrat, put it, "The Democrats are holding the checkbook rather than nagging the guys who had it."
For six years, with Republicans in control of Congress, the city and state have failed to get their fair share of federal appropriations in just about every sector, many local officials say.
That imbalance includes funds for homeland security, education, housing, health care and transportation, according to Spitzer, Mayor Bloomberg, members of the city's congressional delegation and Schumer and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
They bridle at the fact that city taxpayers annually contribute $11 billion more into the nation's coffers than the city gets back in federal funding, according to the city's Office of Management and Budget.
The totals: $67.7 billion goes to Washington each year while $56.8 billion comes back to the city.
With the new majority and his seniority, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) will be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.
"It's going to be different now. First, we won't have to fight and scratch to get items on the agenda," said Rangel. "We're definitely in a much better position than we were before, and I'll be working on trying to get tax incentives for development of affordable housing."
Clinton said she'll seek additional money for 9/11 health programs, assisting recovery workers and others exposed to contaminants after the World Trade Center attacks.
"We're going to get a vehicle to get the money flowing," said Clinton. "I sent a letter to President Bush asking for 1.9 billion additional dollars. The [first] screenings showed what we feared, that many people are sick and are dying."
The following is a sampling of the city's wish list from various officials:
A lower Manhattan security initiative that would include digital cameras on lampposts and barriers that would spring up in the middle of the street to stop a vehicular attack. And more money for more police.
Improvements in the No Child Left Behind program that would provide better tracking of students in public schools. "We got shortchanged on the program," Clinton said. "It allows children to transfer out of failing schools, but we don't have other schools for them to transfer into."
More Section 8 vouchers to pay rent for the poor. "The Republicans cut back the vouchers and the city had to create its own, which went down in value with escalating rents," said Stu Loeser, spokesman for Bloomberg.
Money for the $1.75 billion rail system that would link lower Manhattan to the Long Island Rail Road and Kennedy Airport.
More Medicaid funds and higher Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals. Alan Aviles, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp., said the agency treats 400,000 people a year who have no insurance and is operating at a $500 million deficit.
Tax credits for tuition and increased tax deductions for children in middle-income families.