In a letter to NY House members: Gov. Cuomo says ‘You can rein in the extreme conservative agenda’

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the crowd at the Global Citizens Festival in Central Park this fall. In a letter to New York’s congressional delegation unveiled on Monday, Nov. 26, Cuomo said “You will play a pivotal role in history by reining in the extreme conservative agenda threatening our citizens’ rights, values, and liberties.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued a letter to the New York House Democratic Delegation congratulating them on their victory and calling on them to fight for New York priorities.

Specifically, the governor highlighted the need to fully restore the SALT deduction and secure full federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel.

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear New York House Democratic Delegation:

Congratulations on your victory and winning three more Democratic Congressional seats in New York. Congratulations also to Leader Pelosi and the entire team for regaining the majority of the House. You will play a pivotal role in history by reining in the extreme conservative agenda threatening our citizens’ rights, values, and liberties.

From the State of New York’s perspective, I would call your attention to our most urgent needs.

Last year’s tax reform bill provided a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and handed the bill to hard working families, largely located in Democratic states. The elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), in our opinion, violated the letter and spirit of the constitution and was a gross act of political retaliation. Since Abraham Lincoln started the first federal income tax, it has been clear that the federal tax was computed after state and local taxes. The consequence to New York and this nation cannot be understated. 80 percent of the benefits from the Trump tax cuts go to the top one percent of Americans. Corporations receive a 40 percent tax break. The current cost of the SALT bill to New York is $14.3 billion growing to $15.9 billion annually. It would make this state, and other Democratic states, considerably less economically competitive. The financial penalties commence this year. The pain will be real. Home values could drop. Equity will be lost. I would urge you to stand together and rally the other members in state delegations and demand that the SALT deduction is fully restored.

Another immediate concern is the Gateway Tunnel. The existing Hudson River train tunnels carry trains between New York and New Jersey and serve the entire Northeast Corridor. The tunnel is a federal government asset owned by Amtrak and the federal government has a priority interest in ensuring the new Gateway Tunnel is built. This should not be viewed as a project for New York and New Jersey – the economic and commercial vitality of the entire nation is at stake given that the northeast region served by the Gateway Tunnel contributes twenty percent of the national Gross Domestic Product. The existing tunnels are seriously deteriorated and the damage was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy. It is only a matter of time before one or both will be unusable.

As you know, in 2015 the federal Department of Transportation and New York and New Jersey reached a framework agreement in which the federal government would fund 50 percent of the Gateway Tunnel project and New York and New Jersey would be responsible for financing the other half. Unfortunately, the current administration has chosen to stop the agreement. In an attempt to end the political logjam, I recently made a video of the tunnel conditions exposing the corrosion and damage at the existing Hudson River train tunnel. This should not be a partisan issue. To adapt a great New York phrase, “there is no Democratic or Republican way to fix a tunnel”. I sent a copy of the video to President Trump and Transportation Secretary Chao and have asked the President to personally review the situation and offered to provide any information or assistance he requires.

It is governmental malpractice for everyone to agree that a transportation and economic crisis is looming but still no action is taken. This transcends any political or parochial interest.

I will continue to aggressively pursue the matter with the President and his administration directly but request your assistance. Senate Minority Leader Schumer is well aware of the matter and the urgency and has been steadfastly working to get to an agreement.

Congratulations again and I look forward to working with you.