Though still smarting from Amazon aborting its mission to place a headquarters in Long Island City, city and state leaders have a bright outlook when it comes to the state 2020 budget and its investments in Queens.
While stating the sentiment that Queens still has a commercial draw despite Amazon backing out, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul discussed items which will directly effect the borough including infrastructure and the Jose Peralta DREAM Act at the Bulova Center on April 11.
“I think the epicenter of infrastructure is in Queens, when you look at the two biggest projects that are going on in the state of New York,” Hochul said in reference to the improvements to LaGuardia and JFK Airports.
Up to $100 billion is being pumped into infrastructure projects from the state, more than what the federal government is contributing to state infrastructure projects nationwide, Hochul said.
The MTA will finally get the funding it needs for systemwide modernizations through not only congestion pricing, which will put $15 billion in a lockbox for the agency’s next five-year capital plan, but a mansion tax will also raise that number by $5 billion.
“The majority of commuters from this area do take public transportation to jobs in lower Manhattan, and they won’t be as effected, but we expect this to raise $15 billion. First in the nation to have targeted tolling for high congestion areas,” Hochul said.
After the death of state Senator Jose Peralta in November the new Democratic majority in the Legislature passed the DREAM Act in January, a bill which makes financial aid programs available to undocumented residents.
Now known as the Jose Peralta DREAM Act, Hochul said she had worked with the late politician in the early stages of drafting the bill and listened to the stories of immigrant students who hit a wall in education after high school.
“Their stories would bring you to tears. These were kids who were brought here by their parents who maybe since kindergarten they had been sitting in a classroom with other students all the way up until 12th grade,” Hochul said. “And why can’t they go [to college]? Because financially their not eligible for the same assistance their classmates can because of their citizenship status.”
Hochul was confident that New York could accomplish everything it had under other federal administrations who provided more funding, a sentiment echoed by state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker.
“All the thing that were in place to get Amazon to come here are all still here in even greater ways,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President Tom Grech added.