Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo may have reached a deal on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital plan, but the two weren’t exactly shaking on it today.
The mayor and the governor appeared separately at the Columbus Day Parade in midtown Manhattan today, each offering high praise for the agreement they’d hammered out to fund the on the $26.8 billion capital plan and only lukewarm politeness for each other. The battle over transit funding—Mr. Cuomo wanted to mayor to kick in more cash for transit system, which largely serves the city but is run by appointees of the governor, while Mr. de Blasio wanted a promise Mr. Cuomo wouldn’t use the city’s money for other projects—is just the latest skirmish in an ongoing feud between the two Democrats who once professed to be friends.
“I look forward to working with the governor whenever it can serve the people of New York City, and in this case we were able to serve the people of New York City,” Mr. de Blasio said of his relationship with Mr. Cuomo today.
Asked if he was going to walk with Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Cuomo—who began marching about 45 minutes before the mayor—said he usually walked alone.
“With all due respect to the mayor, I want to march with the president, that’s what I want,” Mr. Cuomo said with a smile.
The deal saw Mr. de Blasio agree to pay $2.5 billion into the capital plan over the next five years—less than the $3.2 billion the MTA Chairman Thoma Prendergast asked for on the eve of the mayor’s executive budget announcement, but more than the $657 million the city was planning on spending. The state will guarantee $8.3 billion in funding. The state also agreed that the MTA will consult the four member of its board appointed at the mayor’s recommendation for city construction and maintenance projects—and both parties agreed not to divert the money elsewhere, following Mr. de Blasio’s complaints that the governor had “raided” the capital plan in the past.
The agreement this weekend came after weeks of bitter back-and-forth, sometimes between the mayor and the governor and sometimes between the mayor and Mr. Prendergast. “We went from not close to close, that’s what happened,” Mr. Cuomo said today.
The arguing was likely not helping either pol—with the every day New Yorker not caring who runs the MTA or has historically paid for the bulk of its operations or improvements.
“I don’t blame any New Yorker who doesn’t spend all day focused on the governmental operations,” Mr. de Blasio said, when asked if it was frustrating City Hall often takes the blame for bad commutes even though he doesn’t set MTA policy. “Working together, we got to a cooperative outcome that absolutely will strengthen the MTA. Again, some very good reforms and guarantees in the plan.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, while Mr. de Blasio praised focused on those reforms, Mr. Cuomo’s kind words for the deal focused on the cash the city is kicking in.
“Our MTA system has needed upgrading for sometime. And the state stepped up to the plate. And I’m glad that the city has stepped up to the plate, and between the two entities—we’ll put in about $8 billion, the city will put in about $2.5 billion. But it’s more than they were going to do,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Mr. Cuomo took a moment to tout the state’s commitment to rebuild LaGuardia International Airport and the Tappan Zee Bridge, promising he’s been “working very hard” to rebuild the state’s infrastructure. He said the MTA capital plan would mean a “more pleasant experience for the rider” and boost the economy.
“You take an old system, you add more ridership, and you have the stresses that you see now. The system is not as clean, it’s not as reliable, let’s be honest. And we said enough is enough, we wanted to do the investment that we needed to do,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We want tourism to keep coming here, we want business people to come here, it has to be a nice convenient place to visit. That’s what the airports are all about, and that’s what the MTA is all about.”
While the city’s representatives on the MTA board will be able to weigh in on local projects, Mr. de Blasio did not name any specific upgrades or projects he’d like to see happen—but said he wanted the system to run better.
“I want the MTA to spend money on things that really help straphangers—things that help make the trains come more frequently, that makes the ride better for every day New Yorkers, that’s certainly what we’re going to focus on,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I think this plan gives the city the opportunity to have a lot more say in the decisions of the MTA.”
Will Bredderman contributed to this story.