In 2009, in response to President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act efforts, New York State put out a call for shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Almost $100 billion of proposals were received, mostly for water, sewer, road, bridge, and transit capital project repairs and some for new engines of growth. Unfortunately, the billions of incremental new funding was less than 10 percent of what was proposed. So much needed work was not funded.
Today and for the foreseeable future, New York’s communities will need to do far more infrastructure work than there will be funding to do the work. Consequently, it is imperative that New Yorkers seek the most efficient and effective use of any infrastructure money we do have. Future infrastructure projects will increasingly need to concurrently serve our energy, environmental protection, equity and economic growth objectives.
It is for that core need that Empire State Future is committed to the full implementation of the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act (PIPA). ESF believes that if the law is applied and implemented in the spirit determined by lawmakers in 2010, New York will have gained a powerful tool to select appropriate infrastructure projects that benefit local and regional economies. This will result in a more environmentally and fiscally sustainable New York.
The Cuomo Administration and state agencies have now had since September 2010 to commence and fully implement the law into practice. In the spirit of partnership, ESF asked to meet with the named agencies and authorities to determine what progress has been made. We also sought either a written response or a meeting with other agencies and authorities that we determined might best utilize PIPA. We sought to include all types of agencies and authorities across the state in order to determine if PIPA was being broadly and thoroughly implemented.
Many of the agencies and authorities that ESF spoke with are exhibiting laudable in-house efforts to implement PIPA based on agency interpretation of how the law affects their specific programs and policies. Others have clearly not done enough to utilize the policy for more efficient and effective infrastructure decisions.
Empire State Future suggests the following next steps, targeted specifically at the state-level, which will lead to better environmental and fiscal infrastructure decision-making:
- Issue a directive from the Governor and/or his Secretaries to all covered Agencies/Public Authorities/Public Corporations to establish Smart Growth Advisory Councils and prepare Smart Growth Impact Statements;
- Expand further Department of State-led education and guidance on PIPA;
- Provide additional incentives for implementation and disincentives when there is a lack of compliance;
- Advance new legislation that extends PIPA to the tax-credit activities of the Economic Development agencies and better defines “public infrastructure;”
- Direct the Regional Economic Development Councils to voluntarily adhere to PIPA;
- ESF will convene state agencies and authorities tasked with implementing PIPA to improve coordination and accelerate the sharing of best practices.
Empire State Future believes New York spending on infrastructure and economic development, including all projects considered through the Regional Councils and the NY Works programs, should utilize PIPA as a benchmark for smart decision-making. The need to better prioritize and make capital projects and economic development more efficient should be obvious. New York has nowhere near enough infrastructure funds to meet its numerous infrastructure challenges.
Final Report (2012)
Smart Growth Impact Statements:
Tappan Zee Bridge (Pages 6-7 of pdf)