FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2008
SCHUMER ADDRESSES ROCKLAND BUSINESS ASSOCIATION - DISCUSSES TOP FIVE WAYS THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS WILL HELP ROCKLAND FAMILIES, BUSINESSES, ECONOMY
At Meeting, Senator Discussed Renewed Push with Senator Kerry to Aid Small Businesses in the Second Stimulus Package - Plan Would Increase Access To SBA Loans, Eliminate Fees For Borrowers
Schumer Also Discussed the Change Rockland Families Can Expect From the New Congress and Administration
Previous Administration Allowed Critical Transportation & Infrastructure to Degrade; Failed to Relieve NYS' Rising Medicaid Burden to Reign in High Property Taxes; Slashed Law Enforcement as Crime Rose; Gutted Health Care Programs
In the wake of the current economic crisis, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today addressed members of the Rockland Business Association in a special meeting to discuss his push to aid small and large businesses, current national issues, and the implications of the recent election. At the meeting, Schumer discussed how the current economic crisis is affecting Rockland County and outlined the top five ways the second economic stimulus plan could help a weakening New York economy by providing aid to the states to help stave off state and local tax increases, create jobs, and provide immediate relief to middle class families and business owners.
“The stimulus plan will help the hundreds of thousands of residents across Rockland and New York State who are struggling to stay afloat in this weakening economy,” said Schumer. “Under the new Administration we will see policy changes that will alter the way our communities are treated by the federal government and could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding for New York State to help create jobs, ease the crunch facing our state’s budget, and avoid tax hikes. A comprehensive stimulus plan will provide relief to the families and businesses in Rockland to help them not only survive, but thrive.”
At the meeting, Schumer outlined five ways the economic stimulus plan will help Rockland families, business, and economy. Schumer said that the new Administration and the Democratic Congress will refocus on the needs of Rockland residents which could both mean millions of dollars for New York State, but also bring significant policy changes. Schumer said the stimulus would focus on the need for infrastructure repair, job creation, small business relief, aid to states, and the foreclosure crisis
Below are the five areas where Rockland residents will benefit from a second stimulus package:
1) Funding for Infrastructure
For years, New Yorkers have watched as roads, bridges, highways, and water and sewer infrastructure slowly deteriorated as funding for infrastructure projects continued to dwindle significantly. Failing sewer infrastructure throughout Rockland County, particularly in western Ramapo, the Village of Suffern, Clarkstown and Orangetown, are in desperate need of federal attention. Additionally, flood remediation efforts for the Ramapo River would go a long way toward protecting businesses and residents from the type of flooding that was seen in 2007.
The second stimulus package would dramatically increase federal spending on transportation infrastructure, not only as a way to repair and modernize our aging transportation system, but as away to create jobs during the current economic downturn. Specifically, the stimulus would focus on expanding and improving the federal investment for infrastructure, including highways such as I-287 and the Palisades Parkway and local roads like those in Clarkstown that suffer from poor drainage and failing piping and require the construction of new catch basins.
2) Job Creation – “Green Jobs”
Job creation over the last eight years has been dismal. In Rockland County, the unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in October, up from 3.7 percent a year earlier. Nationwide, the unemployment rate now stands at 6.7 percent, the highest rate since March 1994 and the economy has lost jobs every month this year, a total of 1.2 million jobs, with almost half of the job losses coming in the last 3 months alone. Many of the initiatives in the second stimulus package would help to create thousands of “green jobs” across New York State. Jobs will also be created through investments in infrastructure repairs and modernizing schools.
Schumer said that as the nation works to wean itself off foreign sources of energy, we must invest in domestic infrastructure that allows the country to harness domestic and renewable sources of energy – and create jobs. A new focus on building solar panels, wind farms, fuel-efficient cars, and more alternative energy technologies will boost local jobs and the economy. The jobs would also be created through business incentives for energy alternatives and environmentally-friendly technologies.
3) Small Business Relief
America’s small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy. In the lower Hudson Valley, 98 percent of all enterprises are small businesses and they employ 55 percent of the workers in the region. Currently, small businesses are struggling to gain access to credit as a direct result of the turmoil in the larger financial markets. In October alone, the number of loans made under SBA’s largest loan program, the 7(a) program, dropped by over 50 percent nationwide compared to the same month last year.
The second stimulus would provide millions in funding to help firms gain greater access to SBA loans. The funds would also temporarily eliminate fees charged to borrowers and lenders who participate in the government-backed programs. The actions would free up credit, give small businesses more outlets for help, and allow firms to create and retain jobs.
4) Aid to New York State and Rockland County
Over the past eight years, the Bush administration dramatically slashed funding to the states for critical programs, which in turn has forced state and local governments – like Rockland County - to raise property taxes on middle class families. New York State ranks first nationally in Medicaid costs per person, spending a total of about $45 billion last year. And Rockland County spent about 11% of its budget on Medicaid in 2008. Senator Schumer has long called for a stimulus plan that would include this critical funding to states to help stave off state and local tax increases, and the severe cutbacks that have had a weakening effect on an economy that is already on thin ice.
President-Elect Obama has made this a top priority. The economic stimulus would invest in immediate efforts to provide relief to the increasing burden placed on the states. Economists agree that dollar for dollar, funding to the states is an effective means of economic stimulus. Senator Schumer and the Obama administration want to ensure that more federal health care funding comes into New York State. A second stimulus would mean a significant boost to the Rockland County area as the state struggles to cope with these conditions in the economic downturn.
5) Foreclosures and Vacant Housing
During the past eight years, the Bush Administration dramatically cut back on funding for critical housing programs that enabled municipalities to respond to rising foreclosures and declining property values. The Hudson Valley is experiencing a rise in foreclosures and a decline in property values that not only hurts families but the local government as well. According to the New York State Comptroller’s office, foreclosures have risen 77 percent statewide over the past year. And in the Hudson Valley, 10.4% of sub prime home loans are in foreclosure – the highest in New York State outside of Long Island and New York City. This represents a 350% increase from July 2006. Meanwhile, there has been a 25% loss in home sale prices, putting an additional burden on Rockland County which has endured 253 foreclosures in the third quarter of 2008 alone. The annual federal cuts have cost New York State billions of dollars in redevelopment funding that has exacerbated the housing crisis that has taken its toll on household wealth.
The second stimulus package will likely include several measures to help families and localities with the foreclosure crisis. The stimulus includes funding for programs that will invest in the Federal Housing Administration, giving the agency the resources its needs to protect the interests of taxpayers. The stimulus package will also provide assistance for families who face foreclosure and housing assistance to renters who are victims of the foreclosure crisis.