By Carlo A. Scissura, Esq. | April 14, 2022

“The adoption of this extraordinary capital plan sends a strong signal that New York is building back stronger than ever from the depths of the pandemic.”

The New York Building Congress and its 550+ member organizations couldn’t agree more with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s assessment of the historic $32.8 billion investment in transportation infrastructure, delivered as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State budget, and officially passed over the weekend.

The overall budget number is almost beyond comprehension, in a good way – an estimated $221 billion for the total package. But when you break it down and take it project by project, investment by investment, you can almost see the jobs being created, the shovels hitting the ground, and the girders rising in the air. It is a huge boost for our industry after two tough years of COVID limitations where we, nonetheless, kept on building.

While we could not possibly point to every project mentioned in the budget here, critical enterprises — many long overdue — are being funded. The Bronx, in particular, will be the beneficiary of two massive projects, both aimed at righting previous wrongs. The Bruckner Sheridan Interchange at Hunts Point will see a reconstruction that corrects planning mistakes of the past and prioritizes health and safety. It will also bolster the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, which employs more than 6,000 workers. Over on the Cross Bronx Expressway, a feasibility study will be undertaken to determine if decking sections could cover portions of the roadway. The assessment will also look at ways to reconnect communities torn apart unjustly generations ago to follow Robert Moses’ original plan. Possibilities here include more open public spaces; enhanced bicycle and pedestrian safety; and noise, air, and heat pollution mitigation.

But it’s not just a “street-smart” budget, limited to transportation investment – it’s a well-rounded one that also provides funding for job creation, housing, sparking economic growth, and combatting climate change.

There’s a huge win for the residents of Buffalo with a new stadium on tap for the home team, assuring they aren’t going anywhere. The Bills will remain New York’s only in-state NFL squad (but we’re not mad at you, Giants and Jets!), and continue to generate an estimated $27 million toward the state’s economy annually. The $600 million state share for this project, along with other public and private funding, will provide roughly 10,000 construction jobs.

Moreover, on tourism (and games), New York could see up to three new casinos constructed as well, meaning more good-paying construction jobs are in the offing, not to mention the long-term jobs created by such enterprises.

But even more important than fun and games are solving the problems and easing the burdens of everyday New Yorkers, and the $25 billion going into the Governor’s comprehensive five-year housing plan does just that, and is one of the finest achievements of this budget. Aimed at creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across the state, this funding will also serve to create supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, provide senior housing to help New Yorkers age in place safely, preserve the affordability of Mitchell-Lama developments, and improve public housing conditions via capital investment. It also will go toward bringing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) into code compliance, improving the safety and living conditions of those who reside in and alongside them.

While disappointed that there was no action taken on an extension or reworking of the 421a tax abatement, we look forward to working with our partners in government and the private sector to assure the continued availability of affordable housing construction in New York.

For utilities, there is $250 million in the budget to improve energy efficiency in low-income housing, as well as money set aside for electrification of 50,000 additional homes. Broadband sees a $1 billion investment via the ConnectALL initiative, and after two years of working from home being a necessity, not a luxury, our state needs this critical infrastructure investment.

Speaking of work, this budget provides $350 million for workforce development, as well as seed money, tax relief, and better access to capital for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The “FAST NY” grant program will develop shovel-ready sites to attract high-tech manufacturing, particularly semiconductor-related businesses, which will keep New York at the forefront of high-tech. We also commend the State on the eight-year extension of the use of design-build contracts for certain public works projects, and look forward to continuing to work with our government partners to make project delivery more efficient and cost effective.

Turning to the environment, the Building Congress is proud to join our industry partners in supporting the budget’s 10-year reauthorization of the Brownfield Cleanup Program and the Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program as effective policies to supply affordable housing to low-income New Yorkers. We look forward to working with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Governor Hochul, to make sure any changes to this program are not prohibitive to our minority and women owned businesses.

Hurricane Ida tragically showed New York is still susceptible to flooding, which is why we applaud the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act — heading to the ballot in November. It would provide crucial funds for resiliency, and flood and climate change mitigation. It would also fund wastewater infrastructure and municipal stormwater projects. Green building would also be on tap for SUNY and CUNY buildings. We strongly urge voters to pass this act and release these critical funds.

The Building Congress celebrated its centennial last year, and our focus is now on the next 100 years — the policies, projects and people that are going to lead to growth and prosperity in our state.

The funding in Gov. Hochul’s enacted budget sets the stage for that next great era of building in New York. Combined with federal and other funding aimed at mammoth projects like:

  • The Penn District (we are strongly in support of redeveloping the existing Penn Station area into a world-class transit hub)
  • Gateway
  • The extension of the Second Ave. Subway up to 125th Street
  • A new state-of-the-art terminal at JFK
  • And let’s finally come together and reimagine the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway…

… the next generation of New Yorkers can expect to see an entirely new vision of progress — “coming soon,” as the signs on our construction sites often say.

And the seeds for that growth were just sown in Albany.

Carlo A. Scissura, Esq. is the President and CEO of the New York Building Congress, a broad-based membership association celebrating its 100th year, and committed to promoting the growth and success of the construction industry in New York City and its environs.