Senator Gillibrand: President Obama's Budget Has Right Priorities -- Jobs, Education, Security

Press Release

By:  Kirsten Gillibrand
Date: Feb. 1, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today applauded President Obama's budget, which prioritizes job creation, education, and security. Senator Gillibrand will work to improve funding for Medicaid and infrastructure, which would help hold the line on rising property taxes.

"Over the past year, I have met with New Yorkers across the state and the number one concern is the economy," Senator Gillibrand said. "New Yorkers expect Washington to be focused on solutions. The President's budget is focused on creating jobs, improving education, and giving our local communities the tools and resources they need to keep us safe. I do not support some of the cuts made to some critical services for New York, and will work diligently over the coming weeks to ensure that New York taxpayers are protected."

President Obama's Budget Focuses On Jobs, Education, and Security

Cutting Taxes for Businesses to Create Jobs: President Obama's budget includes $33 billion for a program that would provide tax cuts for businesses that create new jobs -- similar to legislation that Senator Gillibrand has introduced. LINK

Cutting Taxes for Middle Class Families: President Obama's budget extends the Making Work Pay Tax Credit -- a $400 tax credit enacted for all working individuals, which was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The President's budget would extend this proposal for an additional year. Seven million New York families are estimated to have benefited from Making Work Pay last year.

Expanding Rural Broadband: The President's budget requests $418 million for a new rural broadband program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Innovation, designed to promote economic opportunity and job creation in rural communities. The funding would go toward loans and grants to expand access to broadband services, providing rural communities with the tools necessary to compete in the global economy. In December, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Rural Broadband Initiative Act to target federal efforts at broadband expansion by streamlining the currently sluggish and scattered process of delivering high-speed Internet to businesses and families in un-served and underserved rural areas, including regions of New York.

Northern Border Regional Commission: The President's budget includes $1.5 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), a Federal-State partnership to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing persistent economic distress in the northern border region. Covering portions of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. The NBRC helps coordinate Federal efforts to develop the basic building blocks for economic development, such as transportation and basic public infrastructure, job skills training, and business development. This Commission would cover both Northern and Central New York, including Cayuga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Oswego, Seneca and St. Lawrence Counties. The NBRC was not included in last year's budget, but Senator Gillibrand was a leader in securing $1.5 million for the NBRC.

Pell Grants: The President's Budget includes $34.9 billion for Pell Grants, supporting a projected maximum award of $5,710.Pell Grants have helped millions of Americans afford college, yet in recent decades, growth in their value has fallen far behind the growth in college costs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and last year's appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The President's budget proposes to make that increase permanent and put them on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000, expanding eligibility, and nearly doubling the total amount of Pell grants since the President took office. Senator Gillibrand supported the increase in Pell Grants in the stimulus act and supports the permanent increase of the Pell Grant awards. The Pell Grant Program is the largest source of federal grant aid to postsecondary students.

Elementary and Secondary Education: President Obama increases K-12 education funding by $3 billion, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, with a potential $1 billion increase of additional funding.

Head Start: The President's budget includes an increase of nearly $1 billion for Head Start, up from $7.2 billion in 2010.

Women, Infants, Children: The President's budget increases the WIC program from $7.25 billion to $7.6 billion. This program provides nutrition assistance to young mothers and babies, and we should applaud the President for investing the in the health and well-being of these critical populations. This will increase New York State funding from $438 million to $456 million.

Investing in Non-Profits to Protect New York: The President's budget requests a total of $887 million for the Urban Area Security Initiatives (UASI) program and $19 million for the non-profit security grants program. Senator Gillibrand fought hard last year to increase the appropriations level for non-profit security grants to its current $19 million, and is pleased that the President has recognized the importance of this program by including an increase for the program in his request for the first time. The non-profit security grants program was consistently underfunded during the Bush administration, leaving New York religious and community centers without access to any resources to provide for security. In recent years, only about half of New York applicants for the program were able to receive funds.

New York is also a major beneficiary of the UASI program, receiving over $150 million in assistance to help secure our urban centers. In 2009, the New York City metro area received approximately $145 million in UASI funds.

Strengthening Local Law Enforcement: The President's budget includes a $302 million increase for the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Grant Programs. In 2009, New York police departments received more than $19.9 million in COPS hiring recovery program grants.

Protecting Women from Violence: The President's budget includes $438 million for the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), up from $418.5 million appropriated by Congress last year. In 2009, OVW allocated more than $7 million to New York under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program. The STOP Program supports communities' efforts to hire and retain criminal justice and victim services personnel that respond to violent crimes against women as a way to develop and strengthen effective law enforcement, prosecution strategies, and victim services.

Delivering Health Care for 9/11 Heroes: The President's budget doubles funding for health care for the 9/11 first responders and community members that were living at or around Ground Zero to more than $150 million. The funding would be used for screening and treatment for first response emergency services personnel, residents, students, and other related to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Senator Gillibrand is pleased with the increase, but will continue to fight to make the funding permanent with her legislation the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Ending Gun Trafficking: President Obama included $469 million, an increase of $16 million for personnel and staffing at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In Senator Gillibrand's Gun Trafficking Prevention Act she called for an additional $370 million for ATF staffing and needs. Senator Gillibrand will continue to push for more federal investments to end the flow of illegal guns into New York.

Investing in High-Speed Rail: The President's budget request includes substation investments to rail service and high speed rail. The budget includes $1.5 billion dollars for Amtrak and $1 billion for High-Speed Rail development.

Senator Gillibrand Will Focus On Making the Following Improvements:

FMAP: President Obama's budget includes $25.5 billion to extend the boost in federal Medicaid reimbursements for the first six months of the year, which was originally passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While Senator Gillibrand is pleased with the extension, she will work aggressively toward a long term solution that will ensure New York gets its fair share of Medicaid funding to provide quality care for New Yorkers and help hold the line on property taxes.

Clean Water Infrastructure: The President's budget makes reductions to overall investment in clean water infrastructure, budgeting $2 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund -- down from $2.4 billion the previous year and $1.2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund -- from $1.5 billion the previous year.

For a State like New York, which currently has $10 billion dollars in overall infrastructure projects currently awaiting funding on the State's Intended Use Plan, these cuts will have a major impact on local property taxes as community will be forced raise local taxes to pay for costly infrastructure improvements. In addition, reductions in investments for clean water infrastructure affects environmental and health quality, as well as the ability to create good-paying jobs all across New York.

Brownfields and Superfund Sites: The President's budget makes reductions to overall funding for environmental remediation programs, including a $37 million reduction for the EPA's Brownfields program, from $175 to $138 million, and a $14 million cut to the Superfund Program -- from $1.307 billion to $1.293 billion.

Transportation Funding: The President's budget makes additional cuts to transportation infrastructure investments from his previous budget request. For transit investments -- critical for New York, where one-third of all public transit trips occur -- the President's budget reduces investments by $1.4 billion. For highways, the President's budget reduces investments by $500,000 over the previous year's request.