Following the president's trip to New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Bush had agreed to include $2 billion for the project in his executive budget for 2008.The project will give passengers a seamless trip from Kennedy to downtown Manhattan. AirTrain passengers currently have to get off the train in downtown Jamaica and switch to the subway to get to Manhattan. They can also transfer to the subway at Howard Beach. Long Island commuters who travel on the Long Island Rail Road will also have an easy ride to Lower Manhattan when the $6 billion project is complete. Jamaica development officials believe the project will increase downtown Jamaica's role as a regional transit hub.The $2 billion for the project comes in the form of unused tax credits. The money was allocated to rebuild Lower Manhattan following the attacks of Sept. 11 but was never used. Bloomberg released a statement last Thursday thanking Bush for supporting the project."I want to thank the president for his ongoing support for this vital project and for including this $2 billion in his budget," Bloomberg said.The inclusion of the money in Bush's budget is certainly a boost for the project, but the funds have fallen victim to political wrangling in the past. Bush included the money in his budget last year only to have the funds cut by Republican committee chairmen.In addition, the funds have passed the House of Representatives twice in recent months, only to be killed in the Senate. In August, the funds were tied to a Senate bill that would have raised the minimum wage and cut the estate tax. The bill was voted down. In December, the funds once again passed the house, and were once again killed in the Senate. There was speculation at the time that Republicans in the House urged their Senate colleagues to kill the bill to retaliate against U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for orchestrating the Democratic takeover of Congress.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@times
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