GOVERNOR SPITZER PRESENTS KEY FEDERAL PRIORITIES TO NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION
Criticizes Misplaced Priorities in President's Budget
Governor Eliot Spitzer today presented the New York Congressional Delegation with his list of federal priorities for Federal Fiscal Year 2009, asking the state's representatives in Washington to push for federal legislation to help fuel economic growth and opportunity in New York State. Traveling to Washington just days after President Bush released his federal Budget, the Governor offered a critique of the administration's spending priorities and the devastating impact they will have on New York State. The Governor encouraged Congressional members to fight back against cuts that would wreak havoc on the state's health care and educational systems, homeland security and economic prosperity.
"President Bush has shown, through his misplaced priorities, that we cannot count on the White House for a federal budget that offers real solutions for the serious problems facing our state," said Governor Spitzer. "As we weather this national economic slump, New York needs innovative solutions from Washington to help combat housing shortages, high energy and health care costs, security threats and other serious challenges. The growth of our economy depends in part on this work being accomplished during this Congress and I look forward to working closely with the state's Congressional Delegation on initiatives of critical importance to New Yorkers."
The federal priorities outlined by the Governor today complement his recently released state budget proposals to strategically invest in education, health care, economic revitalization and housing. Each of these priorities furthers Governor Spitzer's goal of making New York the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family - to make it, once again, the center of economic growth and opportunity.
Among the federal priorities outlined today:
Health Care: Congress should secure a moratorium preventing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from adopting rules that would dramatically reduce Medicaid funding to New York State and hinder the state's ability to provide quality health care services for our most vulnerable populations.
Transportation and Infrastructure: Congress must improve upon the President's inadequate budget by fully funding authorized programs for bridges, highways, mass transit, and intercity passenger rails.
Public Safety and Homeland Security: Congress must reject the Bush Administration's cuts to major state and local homeland security grant programs, and increase federal funding for the State Homeland Security Grant Program. Congress should also disregard the President's proposal to reduce local law enforcement programs by 62 percent and fully fund the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.
Education: Congress must fully fund No Child Left Behind, including increased funding for Reading First and 21st Century After-School Programs, while improving teacher quality standards. Congress must strengthen higher education programs and funding provided through the Higher Education Act reauthorization.
Clean and Efficient Energy: Comprehensive federal legislation is needed to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases and any legislation at the federal level should not pre-empt states from taking action to reduce carbon emissions.
Environment: New York needs the passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act which preserves the intent of the federal Clean Water Act to broadly protect the nation's waters. In addition, federal funding for upgrading sewage treatment plants needs to be significantly increased. New York State, like many other states, needs billions of dollars to upgrade sewage treatment plants that discharge into the Long Island Sound and other important water bodies.
Economic Security: Congress should fully fund the $5.1 billion Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program to allow eligible families in New York and other states to access benefits. In addition, Congress should restore funds for the Workforce Investment Act and support a Trade Adjustment Act that includes a strengthened Unemployment Insurance program.
Taxes: The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) needs to be fixed by Congress to keep it from hurting middle-class Americans. Without a permanent fix, 4 million New Yorkers could fall within the AMT guidelines and be forced to pay more than $12 billion in 2008 federal taxes.
Housing and Community Development: Legislation is urgently needed to respond to the subprime lending crisis that has forced so many New Yorkers out of their homes. The federal government needs to protect families from falling prey to predatory lenders and from foreclosure.
Competitiveness and Innovation: To help the country stay competitive with emerging economies around the world, Congress should study ways to modernize the regulation of financial services in the U.S., similar to the efforts being conducted by New York's Blue Ribbon Commission concerning these regulations in New York.
Agriculture: Congress should pass legislation to upgrade the antiquated H2A guest worker program by improving the temporary agricultural worker program and enabling these workers to function more effectively within New York and the rest of the country.
Civil Rights: The Americans with Disabilities Act should be improved with the passage of the ADA Restoration Bill, which would bring the language of the act in line with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws.
The Governor also used this opportunity to praised the delegation for several achievements made over the last year that are critical for New York, including the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and passage of the energy bill. Governor Spitzer also thanked them for their tireless work advancing the Farm Bill and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.