A coalition of business groups from New York City and suburban Long Island and Westchester on Monday pleaded with President Donald Trump to secure a funding deal to rescue the region and its transportation system from fiscal crisis.
State and local governments “are on the brink of having to lay off police officers, fire fighters, emergency service personnel and others from the public workforce that could consequently jeopardize public safety and thus our economy,” the Partnership for New York City, the Long Island Association and the Business Council of Westchester wrote in a letter to the president.
The region represents about 4% of the U.S. population and 6% of the gross domestic product, according to the groups. TheMetropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the city’s subway system, commuter rail and bridges and tunnels, serves a region that represents about 10% of U.S. economic output, they said.
Read more hereN.Y. MTA CEO Warns of Service Cuts, 7,400 Layoffs Without Aid
“It is imperative that you negotiate the agreement that provides dedicated funding for mass transit systems, which are suffering an existential fiscal crisis as a result of Covid-19’s impact on ridership and revenues,” the groups told Trump. “Without federal relief, this will further devastate businesses that rely on mass transit and also constrain the national economic recovery.”
The letter followed a message that the Partnership for New York City sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio last week signed by chief executives of more than 150 of the city’s largest corporate employers. Executives including Albert Bourla of Pfizer Inc., David Solomon of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Jeffrey H. Barker of the Bank of America and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone Group Inc. said that increasing crime and deteriorating services had degraded the quality of life to the point that it’s become difficult to encourage workers to return to offices.
“Despite New York’s success in containing the coronavirus, unprecedented numbers of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk,” the Partnership’s earlier letter stated. “There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues.”
During a briefing Monday, De Blasio was asked about the letter to Trump. “I’m very pleased that they are using their power and influence to try and move the president on the stimulus,” he said.
But the mayor said such action is unlikely, and he called upon the Partnership to “use its influence in Albany to help us get long-term borrowing” to pay for services and avert layoffs as revenue remains lower than expected.
The city has experienced a spike in shootings that have exceeded by 2% the total recorded 10 years ago, according to New York Police Departmentstatistics. The four-week total was 222 as of Sept. 6, compared with 90 recorded during the same period last year. Tax revenue plummeted due to the this year’s lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. That forced spending cuts that have reduced services and led to complaints of uncollected trash and neglected maintenance in parks.
Yet the Partnership’s letter has drawn critics who say its focus should have been directed at the president andSenate Republicans who have resisted more help to cities and states.“The Partnership’s letter certainly played into the hands of the city’s enemies and was absent any proposed solutions,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat. “These are some of the same executives lobbying the state government against the idea of tax increases for the wealthy. They act as if they don’t know the services they want cost real money.”
Monday’s letter to Trump originated with the Long Island Association, which acts as a chamber of commerce and includes leaders of several universities as well as Canon North America,Northwell Health, andBrookhaven National Laboratory. They invited the Partnership and the Westchester Business Council to join in, said Kevin Law, the Long Island group’s president and CEO.
“We are very concerned about the financial situation theMTA is in,” said Law, whose members depend on the agency’s Long Island Rail Road. “We thought it crucially important that President Trump hear us.” Law noted that the president carried Long Island’s Suffolk County in the 2016 election.
The MTA may have to cut about 7,400 jobs and reduce service 50% on its Metro North and Long Island Rail Road lines if it doesn’t get $12 billion in federal aid, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Foye said Monday.
The Westchester group includes companies such asRegeneron, PepsiCo Inc.,IBM, universities and hospitals, said Marsha Gordon, the group’s president and CEO. The group joined the letter, Gordon said, after a months-long effort to persuade Congress to provide more aid to the MTA “because if they are financially hamstrung, it’s going to have a huge negative impact on every business in our region.”
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