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  February 18, 2004

Mr. Bloomberg Goes To Washington
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Last Wednesday, I spent the day on Capitol Hill to fight for our hometown. My mission was clear: to ensure that New York City gets its fair share from the Federal government. I met with members of Congress to encourage them to help pay for the necessary services and projects that will strengthen New York, and, in so doing, strengthen our country. After all, this is the world’s greatest city, and our economic success is crucial to the nation’s overall prosperity. I made the case to the Members of Congress and Senators that not only is the right thing to do, it’s a good investment for the country to make.

There’s no question that lawmakers in Washington have been running a tab with the Big Apple. As far as I’m concerned, that bill is due. New Yorkers send far more in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury every year than we get back – roughly 83 cents to the dollar. My message to Congress was that we’ve got to see more of our Federal tax dollars being put to work for the good of New Yorkers.

We need more Federal assistance most urgently in two specific areas. First, we need funds to protect New Yorkers from terrorism. Congress must follow President Bush’s lead and distribute funds based on threat and risk. They can no longer allow precious homeland security funds to be spent like political pork and wasted on areas where there is little or no threat of a terrorist attack. The War on Terrorism started on the streets of New York City on 9/11 and unfortunately, New York remains a prime target for terrorists. To ensure that the NYPD and other City agencies have the counter-terrorism resources they require, we need Congress to recognize that protecting New York is good for the country, and distribute the funds where they are needed.

Second, we need help ensuring New York City’s mass transit system remains in excellent operating condition. It’s a question of simple math. With two-thirds of the nation’s subway riders, and 18% of commuter bus riders, New York has one-third of all commuter bus and rail riders in the United States. To keep the city running smoothly, the House must approve the transportation bill that the Senate passed last Thursday. At the urging of Senator Chuck Schumer, it provides New York with at least $7.1 billion in Federal transit funds over the next six years. The bill also includes $10.3 billion for highway construction and repair in New York State over the same period, funds included on account of the hard work of Senator Hillary Clinton.

We’ve provided Congress with other ways they can help New York City, from re-authorizing Liberty Bonds to increasing the Federal share of Medicaid costs, which are rising by about $1 billion a year.

We New Yorkers don’t believe in getting something for nothing. We do expect to get what we’ve earned. And when you consider how important the city is to the rest of the nation – and that we took a hit for the country on 9/11 – it’s clear that the requests I made to Congress were not only reasonable and practical, but, quite simply, the right thing to do.