It is certainly unusual, at least in recent memory, for a New York governor to visit Western New York as often as Andrew M. Cuomo has in the past several weeks.
But one reason it’s so unusual is that governors have been ignoring Western New York for decades, so the recent interest – nine trips since mid-June – by the current guv comes as a welcome change.
As a recent News article pointed out, Cuomo’s trips to our fair region have spiked over the past 10 weeks, beginning with a May 22 trip to Buffalo. In June, he visited Erie County or Niagara County four times. There were no visits in the same months last year.
Sure, he wants to win as much of the state as he can when he runs for re-election next year. And therefore he’s courting, quite nicely we might add, the only region in the state where voters rejected him in the 2010 election. He’s a politician. They like to win, and for Cuomo, whose aspirations could reach to the White House in 2016, winning on a large scale now is vitally important. And Erie County usually picks the winner in gubernatorial elections.
While he’s in town, he probably figures, why not tout his accomplishments? Especially when there is a $349 million ceremonial check being handed to him by Seneca President Barry Snyder. Perfect photo opportunity. And perfect timing for the beleaguered City of Niagara Falls to get a desperately needed piece of that casino revenue sharing money. Salamanca made out OK after the deadlock was broken and Buffalo got a little bit of the pie.
He’s not just putting in considerable face time in the region, he also brings along quite a slice of bacon, including the promised Buffalo Billion. Critics say that it’s not a billion in “real” money, but whatever the amount of “real” money is, it’s money we would not be getting without Cuomo. That it may take 10 years for the billion to materialize instead of five is beside the point. As Howard A. Zemsky, co-chairman of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, said, while only about $75 million of the $1 billion is earmarked, he expects the demand to catch up to the allocated funds, probably in 2014.
Ten years to allocate the money instead of five years? Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. And what’s the alternative? Oh, never mind – we know the answer. The alternative is what the region had before. Nothing.
There is much progress under way in Buffalo even without the billion. The prospect of major support from the governor can only build on those efforts.
It doesn’t hurt to have a high-placed ally. Look at the $1.4 billion state subsidy for the enormous computer chip factory in Saratoga County pushed by then-Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
Here’s our response to Cuomo: Don’t be a stranger.