Watertown beats NYC 30-1 in Cuomo contest
ALBANY—Residents in some parts of upstate New York got roughly 30 times as much money per capita in the latest round of state funding awards than residents of New York City.
Funding award totals in the competition, brokered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, show the seven-county North Country raked in the more than any other region—$274.7 million—after winning “best plan” designations each of the last three years of the competition competition. New York City is the only region never to receive such a designation, and its total awards clock in at $175 million. But there are 8.3 million people living in the five boroughs compared to 436,906 in the seven counties, according to the latest Census estimates.
That means Cuomo’s process has directed $628.74 for each North Country resident, but just $20.99 for each New York City resident, in the last three years.
"It's a competition," Cuomo said during an interview on The Capitol Pressroom. "New York City, I believe, has received more money than they've ever gotten from the state, so there's no interpretation that New York City's been snubbed. It's got more money. Other regions have won the competition."
(Two Cuomo aides did not respond to a request for further explanation of this claim, other than to pass along the three-year, $175 million figure.)
Empire State Development president Ken Adams echoed this point after a hearing where several lawmakers were skeptical about their diminished role in the ongoing process, which doled out $220 million in competitive awards on top of nearly $500 million that, prior to Cuomo’s tenure, would simply trickle out of state agencies.
“There's never enough resources to go around,” Adams said. “It's not a question about a mathematical formula and it's not a question of being all things to all people, or even what you would think of as relative fairness. … Is there a formula for equitable distribution? This is not a program that’s built on that model. This is built on the model of a competition.”
Cuomo is running for re-election next year, and is looking to make a good showing in less densely populated areas upstate as well as in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.