After offering New York City a $7.8 billion booster shot in September, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo yesterday turned to Long Island and prescribed a $900 million economic development package.
Although considered one of the richest regions in the state, Long Island has been hard hit by the regional recession and federal cutbacks in defense spending. As a result, unemployment has risen, and Suffolk and Nassau counties have had to combine service cuts with tax increases to contend with budget gaps caused by increased social service spending and falling tax collections.
The infusion of capital spending into Long Island could generate more than 2,500 permanent and construction jobs, the proposal says.
A sweeping list of proposals -- some old and dusted off for the occasion, like many of the proposals in the $7.8 billion "New New York City" plan -- call for creating a regional economic booster and environmental protection.
One proposal calls for extending the bonding authority of the New York State Mortgage Finance Agency to finance low-cost mortgages for low-and moderate-income families on Long Island.
"Just as no man is an island, in our economic and political life, no island is an island," Gov. Cuomo said yesterday at the Huntington Hilton Hotel in Huntington, N.Y. "Business is bad from Main Street in Babylon to Wall Street in Huntington; From Front Street in Hempstead to Gosman's Dock in Montauk."
Gov. Cuomo noted that the bicounty unemployment rate was 6.8%, with a total of 94,000 out of work in both counties.
Funding from the federal government and a New York State dedicated highway fund could provide between $637 million and $687 million for highway projects, such as completing a fourth lane on the Long Island Expressway.
The state could finance a portion of these costs with bonding, perhaps through a state authority, if state lawmakers approve a dedicated highway trust fund.
One proposal calls for creating the Long Island Transportation Development Authority to explore the development of Calverton Airport in Suffolk County.
Under the fiscal agenda outlined for Long Island, Gov. Cuomo says the proposed state takeover by the year 2000 of local government Medicaid costs is expected to result in a net savings of more than $200 million for Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The economic development plan also proposes to repeal the state Wick's Law, allowing municipalities to buy consolidated insurance policies, create cost effective educational programs for preschool children, and seek to amend the state's constitution to permit localities to use level debt service payments.
The plan also calls for reforming the way school aid is distributed and recommends the creation of a school-aid measure to ensure a fairer allocation to all regions in the state. The proposal also would seek to give school districts more flexibility in how they use the aid and the consolidation of school districts.
As one way to reduce the tax burden carried by Long Island residents, the plan also proposes to consolidate local governments and services.
Gov. Cuomo's plan also includes proposals to spur economic development and environmental protection. A proposed dedicated environmental assistance fund would help localities on Long Island finance solid waste recylcing projects and promote a market for recycled products.
The plan also calls for investing $35 million for the rehabilitation and renovation of capital facilities in state parks on Long Island, as well as creating an expected 735 jobs.
And the plans calls for continuing the state's commitment of $100 million annually for five yeas in tax-exempt industrial development bonds to limit the need for rate increases by the Long Island Lighting Co. The state has already committed $300 million in bonds through the state's Energy Research and Development Authority since 1988.
The Long Island plan is similar to the New York City plan in that represents another attempt by Gov. Cuomo to jolt a recession ravaged economy.
The plan for New York City called for a myriad of infrastructure and transportation projects, including a light rail system connecting its two airports to subway lines. The plan for the city also projected the creation of 25,000 permanent jobs and 54,000 temporary construction jobs.
The funding and political wherewithal to make these proposals real remains to be seen, however. Gov. Cuomo still has to figure out how to close a $689 million budget gap for fiscal 1992, which began April 1, and a $1.8 billion gap projected for fiscal 1993.
And, of course, there is the question of whether Gov. Cuomo will be even around to follow through on these proposals. He has been eyeing a run for President in 1992, but been publicly debating himself about whether to toss his hat in the ring or stay home and deal with the state's fiscal woes.