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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Cuomo unveils his 'Sandy Budget'

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Jan. 7, 2013) Credit: AP

It sounded as if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was about to request funds for triumphal arches after Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy introduced him so effusively yesterday as "a great leader, great New Yorker, and outstanding governor."

Cuomo didn't do that, of course, and as he unveiled his 2013-14 executive budget, he put much of the proper emphasis on recovering from the superstorm Sandy disaster less than three months ago.

It was the Sandy Budget in many ways.

Overall, the nearly $143 billion plan he announced marks a more than 5 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget. But that's based on anticipated spikes in federal funding to New York for Sandy recovery, and for implementing national health care.

By itself, the state operating budget inches up only 1.6 percent, officials said.

So Sandy's aftermath will remain major government business, with many twists and turns, for some time.

Take the request for stockpiles of essential equipment -- generators, water tankers, chain saws, light towers and pumps to be kept in strategic places for when the time comes. Stockpiling initiatives don't seem to have been carried out before the Sandy crisis.

Another part of the Cuomo presentation involved rebuilding the battered Ocean Parkway between Jones Beach and Captree State Park, to make the stretch more durable, for a projected $2 billion.

Cuomo also recalled for his Albany audience how he visited a community in Suffolk County in the wake of the storm where houses were destroyed three blocks up from the shore. Yet one house, raised on stilts, survived undamaged, right up against the beach.

The governor cited that as an example of building to mitigate losses, perhaps "paying a little bit more to do it right" rather than needing to rebuild the same structure multiple times.

He also talked about projects that would be "state planned and executed but community-driven. We can't sit here in Albany and tell Oceanside what it needs to do. . . . Every community's needs are a little different."

Cuomo talked about reducing the vulnerability of the gasoline delivery system, acknowledging significant breakdowns after the storm.

He also discussed allocating recovery funds for the aftermath of previous storms Irene and Lee, which had pounded different areas of the state.

"Don't think that because they happened over a year ago these communities are not still suffering," he declared to applause.

A governor's executive budget ends up an opening outline. And, even once the Legislature approves a revised plan for the fiscal year starting April 1, it will all have to be executed.

For now, dozens of items comprise the agenda, from how to evacuate nursing homes to better training for the National Guard in power restoration, search and rescue and heavy equipment operation.

These will take money and management, but also, an attention span, for which government is not always known.

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