Cuomo: 'private financing easier said than done'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the state’s 2012 budget on Tuesday and is calling on the private sector to contribute up to $12bn for the $25bn ‘New York Works’ infrastructure fund.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is relying on what he refers to as an “entrepreneurial government” and recently passed design-build legislation to jumpstart major infrastructure projects across the state. 

Specifically, he is counting on a $25 billion ‘New York Works’ infrastructure fund, an investment vehicle to be  comprised of state, local agency, federal and private dollars to “accelerate select infrastructure projects that have maximum economic impact all across the state,” the governor said in remarks made on January 17.

New York plans to direct some $1.3 billion in state money for the new infrastructure vehicle to be leveraged with private sector investments of up to $12 billion. Other sources, such as state agencies and the federal budget are expected to round off the $25 billion fund.

However, in his presentation of the 2012 executive budget and reform plan, which was unveiled in the capital city of Albany on Tuesday, governor Cuomo admitted there is no exact science to attracting private capital without spending the state’s money, adding that these relationships require a more “artistic” approach. He also acknowledged that while his plan is “easy to say” it is “hard to do”.

Earlier this month, Thomas Madison, the newly confirmed executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, a transport agency, highlighted the legal difficulties the state will also face in getting private investors involved in funding New York’s infrastructure, such as the $5.2 billion project to reconstruct the ageing Tappan Zee Bridge.

“At this moment in time, we don’t have the legal or statutory allowance in New York State to do public-private partnerships as they are typically defined in transportation projects. So right now, the plan is that the Tappan Zee Bridge will be a publicly financed project,” Madison said.

The 2012 executive budget commits to keep funding for several environmental and energy programmes intact while also committing to capital investments to “strengthen infrastructure and improve energy management,” according to the governor.