Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order this week to reinstate the city’s school zone speed camera program in a move that made too much sense not to do.
With students returning to school next week, time was running out to breathe life into the speed camera program that started in 2013 and expired last month when the legislation failed to capture the necessary support from the Republican state Senate majority.
When the speed cameras went dark July 25, there were approximately 35 co-sponsors of the bill, which received unanimous support from Democrats in the Senate. But only three Republicans were on board, so the program died.
The failure of the state Senate to pass the logical — and necessary — legislation forced Cuomo’s hand, and the governor acted accordingly. In fact, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio set aside their differences and worked together to grant the city the authority it needed to have the program up and running by the time schoolchildren are back from summer vacation. New York City schools reopen Wednesday, Sept. 5.
That Cuomo even had to intervene is frankly ridiculous. While Republicans and Democrats will always have their differences, their discord should have been set aside when discussing the speed camera legislation, which was created to keep New York City students safe outside their schools during the school year.
The program has lowered speeding by 63 percent and reduced pedestrian injuries by 23 percent in places where the speed cameras were implemented, according to the city Department of Transportation. Those are positive results that were apparently dismissed during the debate on the legislation in Albany.
State Sen. Jose Peralta has led the charge from Queens to keep the program alive. On July 12, he called for the Senate to renew and expand the program by 150 cameras at a news conference with the families of victims who died on the streets of Queens.
His actions drew support from other city officials, including Queens Assemblyman Mike Miller, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. When the program expired, Cuomo and de Blasio listened to Peralta’s plea and stepped up, resulting in Cuomo’s executive order.
“I’m not going to be a governor who sits by and because the state Senate is playing politics and refusing to come back we jeopardize human life, especially the lives of children,” Cuomo said a news conference.
He dropped the hammer at a time when it was absolutely necessary to do so. And Cuomo, along with de Blasio, Peralta, and all the other city officials who kept fighting to keep the program alive should be applauded.