Kidding! NY gov's talk of extra funds for towns was joke

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was making a joke when he promised millions in additional funding to help struggling cities revitalize their downtowns, his office said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor made the remarks Tuesday in Hudson, where he announced that the city was a "first-place" winner in his downtown revitalization contest, which awards $10 million to 10 winning communities, one in each of the state's regions.

He then told the crowd that because so many cities entered the contest, the state would award second, third and fourth-place prizes with specific dollar amounts.

"We're going to have second place winners also that win $5 million," he said, prompting some in the audience to begin to applaud. "We're going to have third place winners that win two-and-a-half million, fourth place winners that win $1 million."

For the fourth-place winners he added an obvious quip: "and a set of steak knives."

In actuality, the entire reference to second-, third- or fourth-place prizes was part of the joke, according to spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer.

"To be clear, there is one $10 million award for each of state's 10 regions, and there is currently no funding in the budget for steak knives," Fashouer said in a subsequent statement emailed to The Associated Press.

The leaders of communities seeking the prize money were likely hoping the two-term governor was serious. Of the 104 communities that entered the competition, 94 will come away with no new funding.

While Cuomo isn't well known as a jokester, it's apparently not the first time he has made jokes involving funding levels for municipal improvement projects. His office said he has made the joke in past speeches and he repeated a version of it Wednesday on Long Island, where he announced that Hicksville as the second winner of the $10 million prize.