It is a project which will change the face of downtown Rochester: the announcement two weeks ago to tear down Midtown Plaza and build a new world corporate headquarters for Paetec created a buzz across the Rochester region. However, there are now concerns about where the money to fund the project will come from, especially given growing tensions between Governor Spitzer and the NYS legislature.
Among the issues which have stalled budgetary talks is the governor's new driver's license plan. Thursday, NYS Assembly Republicans filed suit to block the plan which will give driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Earlier this year Spitzer and his staff were accused of spying on Republican State Senate majority leader Joe Bruno.
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“The power behind this whole effort is much bigger than the rift between the Governor and the Senate majority leader,” says Senator Jim Alesi (R-55th District).
Alesi tells News 8 Now the talks on Midtown Plaza and other state-funded projects have indeed been delayed because Governor Spitzer and Bruno are not speaking. However, Alesi says he's got no doubt that the money will eventually come through for Rochester.
“When the Governor came and announced that he would dedicate 50 million, that is out of a billion dollar capital pot that the Senate has already identified as its priority in this current budget.”
“Before we've gone out and negotiated that, the Governor's gone out and promised some of that money. At some point, I believe we'll negotiate that and I'm all for investing in Rochester whether we're Democrats and Republicans alike,” says Senator Joe Robach (R-56th District).
By law, the State budget must be in place by April 1st, however, New York's lawmakers have not had the best track record in keeping to that date. Still, both Alesi and Robach say they are confident the freeze in relations between Bruno and Spitzer will eventually thaw and the money for midtown will be approved.
“The Governor has pledged the funds, certainly no one is going to fight that,” says Robach.
“We work very well together so what will drive this process will not be the poisonous atmosphere between the leaders,” says Alesi.
Mayor Bob Duffy also tells News 8 Now he is confident the project will see its way out of the stalemate.
"The community has to understand, that if there is a disagreement and certainly in Albany, there are some fundamental disagreements...but they'll be worked out. Because, in the end, they're all professionals, they all serve the citizens of this state and I'm just confident that these things get played up but my experience has been, behind the scene, on both sides, a lot of work gets done on both sides and I think that's going to be the case here," says Duffy.