FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2008
SCHUMER COMPLETES 62 COUNTY TOUR FOR RECORD TENTH YEAR-IN-A-ROW WITH VISIT TO MADISON COUNTY LANDFILL GAS-TO-ENERGY FACILITY
While Spearheading Nationwide Senate Electoral Victory for the Second Time, Schumer Continues to Follow Through on Original Pledge to Visit Every NY County Every Year
Schumer Outlined Many Accomplishments Including a Significant Win on the Peace Bridge, Securing $4M for Binghamton University's Solar Energy Center, Saving Millions of Dollars in Funding for Renaissance Square, Helping to Bring The Foundry Company to the Capital Region, Securing Funding for Binghamton Rail Link Study, and Enhancing NYS' Vital Farming Industry in the Ag Bill
Senator Announces He Will Complete Tour Next Year
With his visit to the Madison County Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility in Madison County today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer completes his 62 County tour of New York for the tenth year-in-a-row – a feat that makes him the first Senator to visit every single county in New York every year he has been in office.
Schumer's 2008 tour of New York included 14 trips to Albany; 17 to Erie; 18 to Monroe; 13 to Onondaga; 19 to Westchester and Rockland counties. He also made a total of 10 trips to the North Country, 12 trips to the Southern Tier, 20 trips to the Capital Region, 22 trips to Western New York, 35 trips to the Hudson Valley, 21 trips to Central New York, and 26 trips to Rochester-Finger Lakes. This included trips to Chautauqua, Cortland, Dutchess, Jefferson, Livingston, Niagara, Oneida, Orange, Richmond, and Ulster Counties.
“This year certainly had a lot of milestones but without a doubt my highest accomplishment is visiting all 62 counties in New York for the tenth year straight,” Schumer said. “We are on the brink of great change in this country and my county visits provide the foundation for what I can achieve in Washington. Crisscrossing the state, seeing old and new faces, and experiencing firsthand what people are going through is a huge part of how I work to solve the problems we face. Next year will be a great year and I can’t wait to kick off the 11th annual tour in the New Year.”
While spearheading a nationwide senate electoral victory for the second time, Schumer continued to deliver for the people of New York, with many of his accomplishments and efforts the direct result of visits to New York communities, upstate and down, large and small.
In January, Schumer worked diligently to lobby New York State Department of Transportation and Amtrak to consider studying the potential ridership for a rail connecting Binghamton to New York City through Scranton. This effort is important to economic development, offering connectivity for the entire Southern Tier Region with New York City. To ensure success, Schumer built a strong coalition of support from his Senate colleges in Pennsylvania and New York. In January Amtrak agreed it would undertake this vital study, the next crucial step to move forward a passenger rail initiative.
In February, Schumer secured critical funding for dredging at the Port of Oswego. After fighting for months for the resources, equipment and manpower to dredge the Port of Oswego, Schumer secured funding needed by the Army Corps to commence excavation. The Port had been plagued by increasingly shallow and dangerous waterways, impeding navigation for cargo ships and limited the capacity of the Port. The port channels in Oswego had not been dredged since 2004 and without the much-needed funding, the Port would have been forced to wait until 2009 for maintenance.
In March, Schumer secured funds for Niagara Falls Train Station. Schumer secured $500,000 for the Niagara Falls International Railway Station Project. After planning the re-location of the train station over 20 years ago, the funds were finally released after Schumer fought to move the project forward. Schumer also fought to get the Federal Highway Administration to make the project a top priority, speeding along final approval.
In April, Schumer brokered a landmark agreement to bring federal funding and expertise to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at UAlbany. After securing nearly $900,000 for nanotechnology research for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the University at Albany, which triggered an additional investment of nearly $15 million for UAlbany’s cutting edge nanotechnology research, Schumer successfully brokered the first ever partnership between the federal government and the CNSE. The agreement between CNSE and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will help advance the research at UAlbany and bring more equipment, staff, and other resources to the college. Companies from around the globe have come to UAlbany to do cutting-edge research in order to develop computer nanochips that are smaller, faster, better performing and more energy efficient. The agreement will ensure UAlbany and the Capital Region remain at the forefront of nanotechnology research.
In May, Schumer created a college textbook rental program. Schumer's innovative textbook rental program to reduce the costs of textbooks for college students became law on August 18th, 2008 when Congressman Tim Ryan successfully added the Schumer program to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which then passed both Houses of Congress and was signed by the President. Schumer first introduced a version of the rental program in 2005. The pilot program authorizes 10 competitive grants for colleges or universities to set up a course material and textbook rental program. In May, Schumer worked to secure passage of the Course Material Rental Pilot Program that will offer college students an innovative new way to get the course materials they need, without saddling them with another staggering bill. Students currently pay an average of $900 per year on textbooks alone.
In June, Schumer honored our troops with a modern GI Bill. Schumer pushed for the passage of a sweeping new GI Bill, which was signed into law on June 30, 2008. The bill greatly expands benefits for service members seeking to attend college or take advantage of other educational opportunities. Schumer helped the bill’s author, Senator Jim Webb, gather support for the legislation, which gives veterans who served at least three years on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001 a full college education, covering the cost of tuition, room and board, at the most expensive in-state public university.
Also in June, Schumer enhanced New York’s vital farming industry in the farm bill. Schumer helped secure passage of the Farm Bill, which included vital funding and provisions for New York farmers. Schumer was instrumental in passing a major improvement to the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. This program allows farmers to receive compensation when the price of milk falls below a certain point; in the new farm bill, that point at which they receive compensation is now linked to the cost of production, thereby protecting dairy farmers from sky-rocketing fuel and feed costs. Schumer was a leader in the successful movement to create the first-ever "Specialty Crop" title, which provides funding for programs to help fruit and vegetable farmers create better, healthier plants and to stimulate demand for fruits and vegetables. Schumer also fought for and won massive increases in the conservation budget, which will help farmers in their stewardship of the land – a win-win for farmers and the environment.
In July, Schumer kept the Renaissance Square Project alive. Working with the Senate Appropriations Committee, Schumer saved $19 million in federal funds for construction of Rochester’s Renaissance Square project that were due to expire. The extension awaits a final vote when Congress reconvenes in January. Not securing the funding extension would have dealt the Renaissance Square project a fatal blow. And with plans for Rochester’s largest public works project stuck in neutral, Schumer laid out a plan to get the development moving again. Working with local leaders, Schumer set out a series of deadlines and goals that helped get the project back on track and moving toward construction.
In August, Schumer cut the red tape for a flood-prone Irondequoit neighborhood. For more than ten years, the Town of Irondequoit had worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a plan to stop the flooding that regularly occurred in the town’s Huntington Hills neighborhood. As the town’s plans for roadwork, culvert construction, and stream maintenance neared completion, the Army Corps told the town it could not issue an approval by the summer of 2008. The town needed the August approval in order to complete the work by autumn, when trout spawned in the nearby streams, as New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation forbade work during spawning season. Without approval, the neighborhood faced another fall and spring with a significant flood threat. Schumer intervened, cut the red tape, and secured a quick approval from the Army Corps for the town’s work plan, allowing the work to be done in this summer/fall.
In September, Schumer successfully helped to bring Allegiant Airline to Elmira Corning Regional. In a personal letter to the airline’s CEO Schumer advocated on behalf on the Southern Tier region and touted the commendable performance of the regions airports and offered any additional support to help lure the airline to begin service in the Southern Tier. Allegiant Air selected Elmira Corning Regional Airport and announced its decision in September of this year.
In October, in an effort to build a design replacement to the current Peace Bridge, Schumer saved the world-class, cable-stayed signature bridge and prevented delays. Schumer orchestrated an agreement between Federal Highways Administration, Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority to keep a cable, stayed Signature Bridge in the mix for the Buffalo area international border crossing. The Signature bridge concept was going to be abandoned due to environmental concerns. Instead, Schumer was able to negotiate an agreement for a shorter bridge that still met the goal of the Signature concept, making it once again possible that Buffalo will have an iconic new bridge.
In November, Schumer moved Auburn one step closer to a Harriet Tubman National Park. Schumer proposed legislation to create a National Historical Park preserving and promoting the life of Harriet Ross Tubman, the most famous “conductor” of the anti-slavery resistance network known as the Underground Railroad. After suggesting that the National Park Service (NPS) establish a park in Auburn to honor the life of Harriet Tubman, the NPS released a study confirming that the city is a suitable location for the park. The NPS study brings the region one step closer to creating the National Park and visitor center that would help preserve Tubman’s legacy and boost regional tourism in Auburn.
In December, Schumer successfully worked with the Army to free up 60 acres of space at the Watervliet Arsenal to enable it to attract high tech jobs. After months of cooperative negotiation, Schumer and Congressman Michael McNulty won approval of the United States Army to transform more than sixty acres of the Watervliet Arsenal into a high-tech campus run by the Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership. The agreement will bring more than 550,000 square feet of new and renovated mixed-used manufacturing, office, and R&D facilities and 1,000 new private sector jobs to the Capital Region.
Please see attached report for a rundown of Senator Schumer’s accomplishments in 2008.