State Should Focus On Real Problems

The Empire State has many problems, but officials have recently focused their efforts on a multibillion-dollar fix for an airport coming off a record year.

As local residents and officials struggle with unemployment, failing roads, crushing mandates and an ever-frustrating education system, passenger inconveniences at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport may not have crossed their minds. The facility – described by Vice President Joe Biden as a third-world-style airport – tends to frustrate passengers with its fragmented terminals. Through a recently announced public-private partnership, the airport will feature a single terminal – billions of dollars and at least six years down the road.

Although LaGuardia won’t win any popularity contests among frequent fliers, Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo apparently don’t know or don’t care that the airport had a record number of passengers last year. Nearly 27 million people passed through LaGuardia in 2014. That’s five million more passengers than the airport hosted just five years earlier, according to LaGuardia’s website. Biden and Cuomo, who announced the improvements last month, decided to fix a first-world problem as much of the state crumbles around them.

“We are transforming LaGuardia into a globally renowned, 21st-century airport that is worthy of the city and state of New York,” Cuomo said. “It’s the perfect metaphor for what we can achieve with the ambition and optimism and energy that made this the Empire State in the first place, and I want to thank our many partners for joining us to build the airport that New York deserves.”

Perhaps New Yorkers deserved a competent rollout of the Common Core Learning Standards, drivable roads in Western New York, better jobs and relief from suffocating state mandates. In many areas, Empire State residents and local officials do not get what they deserve or even what they need to have a chance to succeed.

Tourists and business representatives have clearly continued to use LaGuardia Airport regardless of how they feel about its design. Elected officials should focus their efforts on solving more pressing issues and fix minor inconveniences if and when the state truly recovers.