New York City

De Blasio, Cuomo Blast President Trump's Proposed Budget, Vow to Fight

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are blasting President Trump's budget proposal, with the governor calling it a "wrecking ball," and New Jersey leaders fretting about potential cuts to a crucial infrastructure project. 

De Blasio, a Democrat, says the budget puts New York City directly in the crosshairs.

"New York City stands to lose so much in this budget," de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday. "And maybe if he remembers where he comes from, maybe if he heard the voices of New Yorkers, it would help him realize that he needs to take a different path if he actually wants us to be safe and wants us to succeed."

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the Trump budget plan "dangerous, reckless and contemptuous of American values." He says the budget would cut funding for key transportation projects such as the Gateway Project -- the long-sought rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey -- and undermine affordable housing, health care research and environmental protection. 

However, federal officials say that the budget proposal is only an outline and no specific or hard cuts have been laid out.

A Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News that the budget blueprint represents the president's and the administration's priorities, "but does not capture the full budget intent of the administration."  

De Blasio says these are the New York City programs that would be affected by the federal budget: 

  • Under the proposed cuts to Homeland Security, New York City could lose as much as $190 million. Part of those cuts would include the $110 million that the NYPD receives annually as part of the Homeland Security grant program, which NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill called "absolutely critical" and the backbone of the department's counterterrorism apparatus.
  • New York City public schools could lose $100 million, which would impact training to teachers and class size. 
  • 700,000 families would lose access to low-income home energy assistance 
  • Huge cuts to Housing and Urban Development would mean less money for senior citizens, less money for senior centers, cuts to home repairs for seniors
  • Cuts of $150 million to the city's Housing Authority operating funds and $220 million to the Housing Authority capital funds would impact 400,000 families 

"In the end, every budget is a statement of values, and I regret to say that this budget confirms that President Trump does not value working families because they're gonna bear the brunt," de Blasio said. "The budget consistently contradicts his campaign promises."

Both Cuomo and de Blasio vowed to fight the proposed budget and to work with New York's congress members to battle it. 

Republican congressman Peter King told News 4 that the numbers offered up by de Blasio and city officials were worst-case scenario estimates. He said he was told by a city official that the White House budget actually offered no specific numbers on potential security or counterterror cuts to New York City.

King, who represents parts of Long Island, says while some percentage of Homeland Security cuts may affect New York, he doesn't believe all the federal money to the city will be yanked. He vowed to fight to make sure "not one penny" is cut from federal counterterror funding for New York City. 

Trump's plan also puts in jeopardy billions of dollars in federal funding crucial to the Gateway project by only paying for projects that have advanced to the final contract stage, New Jersey's Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said.

The tunnel project has been approved for the funding program, called New Starts, but doesn't have a final grant agreement.

"President Trump's proposal to eliminate the New Starts program - and the Gateway Project along with it - is irresponsible, short-sighted, and demonstrates a complete failure of leadership," Menendez said.

Another component of the Gateway project, a replacement for the century-old Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey, a source of regular delays, also could be jeopardized.

Environmental permitting, engineering and design for a new bridge have been completed, and the project only awaits federal dollars to begin construction. Yet, like the tunnel, the Portal Bridge would be left out under the current budget proposal.

"Zeroing out funding for New Starts will interrupt both of these critical projects and delay the start of construction, which in the case of Portal Bridge, was anticipated to begin this year," John Porcari, interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corp., said in an email.

The tunnel, which is more than 100 years old, is expected to cost close to $10 billion, half to be paid by the federal government and half by New York and New Jersey through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Through a spokesman, Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he "will do all he can to fight any federal funding cut to this project of regional and national importance."

The tunnel is seen as a crucial need for the New York City region, as well as the wider Northeast transportation network. It already operates at peak capacity and is the site of delays due to electrical problems that can have a ripple effect along Amtrak's 457-mile Northeast Corridor, between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

About 750,000 people ride the corridor each day on Amtrak or several commuter lines, according to Amtrak.

The tunnel suffered saltwater damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Amtrak officials have said that will force them to take both of its tubes out service for repairs within the next 15 to 20 years. Officials have painted a dire picture of crippling delays if a new tunnel isn't finished before then.

Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us