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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2007

Schumer Bill To Reimburse Upstate Airports For On-Site Security Costs To Pass Full Senate Today - Protects Upstate Airports That Were Set To Lose Up To 53% Of Reimbursement Funding


Earlier this Year, Schumer Revealed Unfunded Mandate that Could Leave Financially-Strapped Upstate Airports Stuck Footing Bill for Essential Security Costs

Despite the Addition of 25 Airports to Program, Overall Pot of Money Wasn't going to be Increased, Leading Upstate Airports to Lose up to 53% of Reimbursement Funding

Today, Schumer Announces the Senate is Expected to Pass his Amendment as Part of the Omnibus Appropriation Bill to Raise the Overall Funding for Program So Upstate Airports Don't Get Buried in Security Costs

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Senate is expected to pass his legislation that was included as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that will add $3 million to a federal program responsible for reimbursing Upstate New York airports that pay for on-site security.

 

Earlier this year Schumer revealed that the program was set to be underfunded, leaving the state’s already financially-strapped airports footing the bill for security costs. Currently, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program—the Law Enforcement Office Reimbursement Program—reimburses upstate airports that hire local law enforcement officials. However, TSA recently announced a plan to include 25 additional airports in the program without boosting the overall funding.

 

Schumer, who previously warned that airports across Upstate could lose up to 53% of their reimbursement funding for security costs, announced today that the Senate passed his amendment, by including it in Omnibus bill, which will add $3 million to the reimbursement program, minimizing the impact of any potential shortfall faced by the airports.

 

“Upstate New York airports dodged a bullet today and won’t be stuck picking up the tab for security costs that the federal government should be paying for in a post 9-11 world,” said Senator Schumer. “My bill guarantees that the federal reimbursement program has the necessary funding in the place so Upstate New York airports officials can ensure the safety of their travelers,”

 

In an effort to ensure passenger safety and national security at each airport security passenger-screening location, TSA requires that the airport provide law enforcement personnel who are authorized to carry firearms.  Although these security personnel don’t specifically participate in passenger or baggage screening, they are responsible for all other general security aspects of the airport including monitoring terminals and regulating passenger drop off and pick up areas. 

 

To meet this requirement, many airports, including many across Upstate New York, coordinate with local police and sheriff departments to fill these security positions.  This makes them eligible for the funding under the Law Enforcement Office Reimbursement Program (LEOP), which is designed to cover the costs associated with these TSA-mandated security guards. 

 

This year, however, despite TSA announcing its intentions to add 25 new airports to the program, from 275 to 300, the overall funding is not slated to be increased. The direct result would force Upstate New York airports into a shortfall in funding for their much-needed security personnel. For many of the state’s smaller airports that are already struggling to make ends meet, their financial problems will only be exacerbated.    

 

Senator Schumer earlier this year revealed that many of Upstate New York’s airports—including Buffalo-Niagara, Syracuse-Hancock, and Rochester International—would be shortchanged by a federal funding program aimed at paying the cost of employing extra security staff required under a post-September 11th law. 

 

Below is data for each participating upstate airport:

 

Binghamton Regional Airport stands to fall short by $52,471.45 or 25% of its total budget for security.

 

Buffalo-Niagara International Airport stands to fall short by $75,053.16 or 19% of its total budget for security.

 

Elmira-Corning Regional Airport stands to fall short by $129,635.40 or 53% of its total budget for security.

 

Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport stands to fall short by $83,934.08 or 38% of its total budget for security.

 

Niagara Falls Airport stands to fall short by $19,325.60 or 27% of its total budget for security.

 

Ogdensburg International Airport stands to fall short by $5,022.40 or 6% of its total budget for security.

 

Oneida County Airport stands to fall short by $1,726.40 or 24% of its total budget for security.

 

Rochester International Airport stands to fall short by $69,143.56 or 22% of its total budget for security.

 

Syracuse-Hancock International Airport stands to fall short by $62,474.13 or 12% of its total budget for security.

 

* Watertown International Airport, Chautauqua County Airport, and Massena International Airport all participate in the program but data was not available.

 

Today Schumer announced the Senate is expected to pass the Omnibus with his amendment included which will increase the Aviation Security Direction and Enforcement fund by $3 million. This fund includes the LEO program, and the Senator’s amendment increases the LEO program to $67 million, ensuring that the level of reimbursement offered by TSA will not suffer as more airports become part of this important program. Across Upstate NY, his amendment minimizes the impact of any potential shortfall faced by the airports.

 

In November of 2001, the President and Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which established TSA as a new federal agency.  As an agency, TSA is responsible for civil aviation security including the supervision of screening passengers and property at airports.  

 

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