WASHINGTON – President Bush vowed to give New York an additional $5.5 billion in post-Sept. 11 aid, increasing the amount of total federal assistance to $1.3 billion more than he originally promised.
"This is the right thing to do, it's the absolute right position for our government to take. It is essential that New York City come back and come back strong for the good of the entire nation," Bush said.
The new package, announced Thursday in a Rose Garden event with the New York congressional delegation, Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, includes tax breaks in a "Liberty Zone" relief plan for downtown Manhattan.
"Mr. President, on behalf of the people of New York, let me just say thank you," Pataki said.
The new aid includes $2.75 billion more from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which could be used for cleanup and other costs. It also contains $1.8 billion for transit upgrades and $750 million in community development money, which could be used to reimburse utilities, Walsh said.
Verizon and Con Edison, two New York utilities hit hard by the attacks, have said that they might be forced to raise rates for consumers if they do not receive assistance.
Bush pledged $20 billion to New York in the days following the attacks and reiterated that vow on a recent visit to the city.
The new funds bring federal funding for the state to $21.3 billion, but so far, New York has received just $11 billion of the original money pledged. Local policymakers have criticized the White House and Capitol Hill for being too sluggish in getting all the money promised to the state.
New York lawmakers also complained when White House budget director Mitchell Daniels likened their quest for aid to a "little money-grubbing game." He later said he regretted making the comment, which he said was misconstrued.
The $5 billion Liberty Zone tax relief plan already got the okay from the House, which passed the measure as part of a larger economic stimulus bill being considered.
That bill is a stripped-down version of the president's earlier proposed stimulus package and includes 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits for those who lost jobs in New York and elsewhere because of the attacks. The White House gave its blessing to the smaller package, though it says more stimulus would help the economy recover faster from its recent slump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.