Editorial: Use Surplus to Restore Education Funding Cuts

August 11, 2014 | | The Daily News |

New York State once again is facing a dilemma.  This time, however, it’s a nice dilemma to have:  How should the state use the billions of dollars  it will receive in a settlement with a French bank?

The state was already headed for an estimated $2 billion surplus, but will get an additional $3.3 billion to $3.6 billion now that the French bank BNP Paribas reached a settlement deal with state and federal officials last month.  The settlement resolves charges that the bank violated U.S. trade sanctions and did business with clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba.

Good ideas for using the money abound.

Robert Astorino, the Republican who is challenging current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for the state’s top spot, says the state should use the money to address urgent capital construction needs, including replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.  The current bridge was built in the 1950s to last 50 years, and is being used far beyond its designed capacity, leading to questions about its safety.  A new bridge is estimated to cost between $5 billion and $6 billion.

The Unshackle Upstate group wants the money used to address infrastructure needs throughout the state – roads, bridges and sewers – and also to pay down the state’s debt.