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Central New York leaders differ on how state windfall should be spent

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

The political jockeying in New York state is well underway, as special interests vie for part of an approximately $5 billion budget windfall, courtesy of settlements with the banking industry earlier this year. There’s a vocal contingent of state and local lawmakers, including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who believe that money should be used to fix crumbling upstate infrastructure. But not everyone in central New York is entirely on board with this plan.  

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says it’s clear that there are problems with roads and bridges and water systems in central New York, especially in the financially strapped city of Syracuse. But she also suggests that using this one-shot pot of cash could be better spent. Mahoney says instead of fixing something that’s just going to break again, she would like to see a broader conversation about ways to deal with perpetual problem of repairing and replacing infrastructure.

"Have we done anything to put ourselves in a position with that surplus, to invest in things that will make it possible for us to address those needs down the road?” asked Mahoney in a recent interview. “We should be investing in things that generate revenue, so that we have an ongoing ability to take care of our own infrastructure.  So part of this conversation should be how are you investing that money to make this possible.”  

Mahoney says the broader conversation should also include how government restructuring can help.

“Have we restructured our governments so we don’t end up in a situation where we have one government that can’t do what it needs to do.  So in the suburbs we have good roads and are making them better, but have horrible roads in the city of Syracuse,” said Mahoney.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.