Who Will Pay for Cuomo’s Upstate Highway Spending Spree?

Governor Andrew Cuomo continued his run-up to the 2016 State of the State today by announcing a multi-billion dollar subsidy for New York State Thruway drivers and a proposed $22 billion in spending on upstate road projects.

Cuomo would freeze Thruway tolls for all drivers “until at least 2020,” reduce tolls for Thruway motorists who drive the most, commercial traffic included, and eliminate tolls for vehicles owned by farmers, according to a Cuomo press releaseThe toll cuts would be offset by roughly $2 billion in state subsidies for the Thruway Authority. There is no word on how the proposal would affect tolls on the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

While shifting the costs of state highways away from the people who use them, Cuomo has proposed what he calls “the largest capital program in the state’s history” — $22 billion on roads and bridges, “especially in Upstate.” The plan reportedly includes all of $30 million for upstate transit, but transit isn’t mentioned in Cuomo’s press release.

Details on the capital program are scarce. The timetable is unknown. Most important, Cuomo hasn’t said what exactly the $22 billion will be spent on or where it will come from, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario that doesn’t rely heavily on additional general fund borrowing.

Cuomo’s State of the State address is set for January 13.