Over the last two months a small cadre of Western New York’s most influential businessmen have been engaging in private discussions to frame “a Western New York infrastructure agenda,” on the expectation that Governor Andrew Cuomo will be forced to resign his office under federal indictment.
In that scenario, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will serve, at least, the remaining three years of Cuomo’s term in office — representing an extraordinary opportunity for Western New York to secure investment capital for a slew of projects. Local special interests — particularly in the construction industry — are salivating at the opportunity, which they optimistically project could mean $5 to $6 billion annually in state money.
The six individuals are among the region’s most influential and well connected — each of them close to the Cuomo administration. None of the participants in the discussions are willing to go on the record publicly, given sensitivities around the Governor’s current standing. No women have participated in the discussions, including Hochul herself.
The six men are of a more forward thinking posture, concerned with issues of inclusion, diversity, and generating a broad based economic revival for the struggling region. They are allies of Governor Cuomo and “the most natural base of support for a Governor Hochul.”
In broad strokes, the strategy is simple: insist on massive infrastructure priorities for Western New York, like a $5 billion build out of the University at Buffalo; in exchange for left-leaning policy priorities downstate, like an extension of rent control and mayoral control of New York City public schools. Each legislative session will be used to extract massive infrastructure priorities, with special focus given to coalition building during the 2018 reelection year.