We've lost our heart. Literally.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting a new spin on the iconic "I NY" logo, just in time for the summer tourist season.
The latest iteration of the trusty state advertising campaign invites New Yorkers to sum up their feelings about summer in the state by replacing the logo's heart with the things they love -- like beach balls, roller coasters and Niagara Falls.
It's bound to capture imaginations. I'm sure New Yorkers will have plenty to say about the things they love about this state.
Using the old logo, here are just a few that came to mind:
I [heart] High Taxes: What better way to celebrate a state than to hand over your hard-earned cash. Here, you'll find plenty of compelling reasons to pay up to the Great State of New York. They're called income, property and sales taxes.
The best part? We're right up there at the top. The Tax Foundation calculates that New York's state and local tax burden in recent years has been the second-highest in the nation.
I [heart] Thruway Tolls: If you don't feel you've paid enough in taxes, just take a long drive along our New York State Thruway. There, you'll smell your money burning up almost as fast as your gasoline.
Soon, for truckers, there will be even more to love. A proposal is in the works to increase the toll for commercial trucks by 45 percent. That's an extra $20 for every large truck that travels from Buffalo to Albany.
It gets better. Thruway Authority Chairman Howard Milstein has dubbed it a "modest toll increase."
The state's trucking tolls may be lower than what's found in neighboring states, but a 45 percent hike is about as "modest" as the size of the Thruway Authority's $3.2 billion debt.
I [heart] Public Authorities: Even the Thruway Authority needs a reason to hike fees, and this explanation is a bleak one. An independent review of the authority's financial picture found the agency has relied on "opaque and potentially risky" short-term funding sources as debt mounted, expenses grew and revenue failed to keep up.
How did it get in this bind? Past Thruway leaders, according to the report prepared by Navigant Capital Advisors, watched deficits balloon while taking on more debt to fix the aging highway and bridge system.
Oh, and by the way, traffic on the Thruway fell as gas prices and tolls went up in recent years.
I [heart] Downstate Divide: Why the newfound financial introspection at the Thruway Authority? There are several reasons, including new leadership and $868 million in short-term debt that needs to be refinanced next month.
There is also this: Cuomo's $5 billion vision to build a new bridge over the Hudson River to replace the Tappan Zee. It might as well be downstate's Peace Bridge. State officials have been talking with little success for decades about replacing the deteriorating span north of Manhattan.
Cuomo is hoping to fast-track the project, and the Thruway Authority is crunching numbers to come up with a plan to pay for its construction.
It may be necessary, but don't expect a massive downstate Thruway project that could require more toll increases to quell local complaints that the authority has shortchanged Western New York in recent years while pumping more dollars into projects in the New York City area.
Thruway troubles might not be exactly what tourism officials had in mind when they set out to reinvent the ubiquitous "I [heart] NY" brand.
But I can just see the T-shirts now: Taxes, tolls and regional tiffs -- what's not to love about New York State?