As the stimulus package is finalized, we're finally learning what specific goodies will be allocated to New York. With more than $21 billion coming our way, lawmakers sound pleased despite cautioning that the bonanza doesn't erase the state's budget challenges. Senator Schumer, for example, in an analogy that serial killers will grasp especially well, said that "instead of using a meat ax, we can use a rapier.” So what programs can we now stab instead of wildly hack away at? $12 billion in Medicaid aid could help prevent health-care cuts, but Governor Paterson isn't saying whether it will. He did, however, pledge to undo his planned teacher layoffs because of $2.7 billion in education aid. There's also $262 million to hire police officers, $500 million to improve water and sewer systems, and $1 billion for highway improvement, to name a few provisions. Of course, the $1.3 billion in aid to the MTA won't help forestall fare increases, because it can only be used for capital projects, not operating costs. But it will get us a nice, shiny new dome for the Fulton Street Transit Center!
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