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Dolman: Prepare for a fight over funding New York's recovery from Sandy

Governor Andrew Cuomo meets with New York's congressional

Governor Andrew Cuomo meets with New York's congressional delegation and county executives to discuss the financial impacts of Hurricane Sandy. (Nov. 26, 2012) Credit: Handout

Let the games begin.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says he will ask Congress to appropriate more than $41 million in supplemental aid in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Of that, $32 billion would help pay for the recovery effort—including $6.6 for Nassau County, $1.8 billion for Suffolk County and $15 billion for New York City.

How easy will it be to get that much money out of Washington? 

“I’m sure we’ll face resistance from other parts of the country,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in something of an understatement. New York’s request will require an effort lasting “many months,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Translation: Get ready for an eyeball-gouging political scrum.

It’s clear enough to me that New York deserves every cent of this request. Sandy was the worst natural disaster in our history. We haven’t even begun to recover, and when we do build back, we’ll need a fortified infrastructure of buildings, roads and tunnels that can withstand tidal surges of 14 feet and more. 

We’ll need to figure out where it’s safe to build and where it’s not. We’ll need to devise stronger gasoline supply lines on Long Island and a power grid that doesn’t leave most of its customers in the dark when extreme weather strikes. 

As the largest metropolitan market in the United States, the whole nation has an interest in the health of our economy. We’re excellent customers for merchants and industrialists from coast to coast when times are good. Conversely, a big hole in our economy packs a nasty punch for the national economy.

At the same time, for every tax dollar New Yorkers send to Washington, we get back 79 cents in the form of federal programs. It has been that way for years. 

But now New Yorkers need an urgent boost. With a fiscal cliff looming for the feds, our $41 billion quest will be neither quick nor easy. But full funding does happen to be both necessary and fair. Our congressional delegation has some work to do.