Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Owens Pushes for Area Funding in Budget Hearing

Job growth, Fort Drum development,
and border security top priorities

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Owens today testified before the House Budget Committee to make the case in favor of funding for several projects integral to Upstate New York job growth and economic development. Below are excerpts from Rep. Owens’ testimony.

“New York’s North Country is the proud home of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, an installation recently named one of the top ten communities for military families in the world. The division is the most deployed in the Army and, today, two-thirds of the combat teams stationed at Fort Drum are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The families of these soldiers depend on Congress to provide the services they need to endure these frequent deployments. When our soldiers come home, they deserve to return to installations with the sufficient funding to support their training and transition to garrison life.

“Earlier this year, Fort Drum learned that their budget would be slashed 30 percent, forcing the base to cut contracts with businesses in the community and eliminate services for soldiers. The FY11 budget includes only a very modest increase in these funds over FY10 levels, and I’m concerned this increase does not reflect recent adjustments the Army has had to make in base funding by shifting $500 million to worldwide base operating funds from other operational accounts. Although this shift negated further cuts, it has left many military communities uneasy about the future. Ensuring adequate operational funding for our Army installations is critical to easing the burden on both our soldiers and the greater communities they reside in. I urge the committee to carefully consider the base operation support budget for the Army.

“In addition to being home to a major Army installation, the 23rd district of New York shares an extensive border with Canada. To better secure this border, GSA has completed the planning phase of a new Land Port of Entry in Alexandria Bay, New York. Each day this port of entry receives 484 trucks and facilitates trade of nearly $19 million worth of cargo. Future tenants of the expanded Alexandria Bay facility will include many of the agencies that protect our borders from terrorists and facilitate the flow of cargo.

“GSA requested $171.5 million to continue the Alexandria Bay project in FY11, but the President did not include the request in his budget. Upstate New York began suffering from economic difficulties long before the current recession, and its communities rely heavily on trade with Canada. Expansion of the Alexandria Bay facility is critical to creating jobs and to securing our northern border, and I urge you to include funding for this project in your FY11 budget.

“Finally, I urge you to support the President’s request for a $36 billion dollar increase to the nuclear loan guarantee program. There has been a serious effort in my district to utilize this program for the construction of a third reactor at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant in Oswego County, New York. Completion of this effort would create 4,000 construction jobs and nearly 400 permanent positions at the plant.

“But funding for this project is unavailable due to the relatively small pool of funds in the program. With the increase requested by the President, there is new hope for this significant piece of economic development to succeed in Central New York. This is exactly the type of investment we need replicated across the country to help create jobs, move our local economies forward and make clean energy a reality for America’s future.”

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