SCHUMER COMPLETES TOUR OF ALL 62 NEW YORK COUNTIES FOR 16TH YEAR IN A ROW; ANNUAL TOUR OF STATE FINISHES WITH VISIT TO SARATOGA SPRINGS – YEAR CONCLUDES WITH A TOTAL OF 248 VISITS TO UPSTATE NY & LONG ISLAND; PLEDGES TO VISIT ALL 62 COUNTIES AGAIN IN 2015
Upon His Election to the Senate in 1998, Schumer Made A Pledge To Visit Every Single New York County Each Year – After 16 Years, The Tradition Continues
Many Achievements Include Securing JetBlue Air Service to Albany Int’l, Keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western NY, Fighting For Major Helicopter Contracts for Lockheed Martin in Owego, Continuing to Preserve Thousands of Jobs at Lockheed Martin Salina and Many More
Schumer Calls Tour Essential To His Work In U.S. Capitol – Pledges To Complete Another 62-County Tour In 2015
Today, with his visit to Fingerpaint Marketing in Saratoga Springs, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer completed his 16thconsecutive tour of all 62 New York State counties – a feat that continues his run as the first New York State public official to visit every single county in New York each year he has been in office. Schumer highlighted some of the year’s biggest accomplishments including pushing the Department of Transportation to release a rule to phase out dangerous DOT-111 tanker cars carrying crude oil through Upstate New York communities, working with local veterans to convince the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a military cemetery in Western New York, securing a commitment from JetBlue to bring service to Albany International Airport, securing two major contracts for helicopter production at Lockheed Martin in Owego, working with the NFL and the Pegula family to help keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York, and much more.
Over the course of the year, Schumer made over 248 visits to Upstate New York and Long Island. He visited counties in the Capital Region 25 times; the Southern Tier 20 times; Western New York 26 times; the Hudson Valley 40 times; Long Island 68 times; the Rochester Finger Lakes Region 32 times; Central New York 26 times and the North Country 11 times.
“Crisscrossing the state, seeing old and new faces, and hearing firsthand from New York families, business owners, students and professionals of all stripes is one of the most important things that I do as a Senator. When I first ran for the Senate, I made a promise that I would visit each county in my first year in office and I have continued it every year since because of how much I learn and how much I truly enjoy doing it,” said Schumer. “This tradition, now in its 16th year, truly makes me a better public servant – when I visit local communities, meet residents and have an opportunity to truly understand the key issues, it helps me be much more effective. I’m confident that next year will be a great year for New York, and I’m excited to kick off my 17th annual 62-county tour in January.”
Today Schumer’s office issued a report, attached to this release, detailing his achievements for the past year.
Some of the highlights include:
Secured commitment from JetBlue to fly to Albany: After almost fifteen years of lobbying the airline on behalf of travelers and businesses in the Capital Region, Schumer secured a commitment from JetBlue to finally add service to Albany International Airport by 2015. Service to Florida is anticipated as the airline’s first step, beginning in the second half of 2015. Schumer believes JetBlue’s service at Albany International will increase competition and drive down ticket prices.
Led the effort to honor Albany-native, Sergeant Henry Johnson with the Medal of Honor for his service during World War I: After 15 years of effort, and four years after Schumer staff found previously unknown, first-hand accounts of Johnson’s bravery, Schumer personally, and successfully, lobbied Army Secretary John McHugh and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to recommend to the President that Sgt. Henry Johnson receive the Medal of Honor he was previously denied due to segregation. Johnson’s application required Congressional approval before it could finally be sent to the President, and Schumer successfully fought to include an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act waiving the restriction that Medals of Honor can only be awarded within five years of the heroic act being committed. The amendment passed as part of that bill in December 2014 and Sergeant Henry Johnson’s Medal of Honor application is now before the President.
Secured $15M TIGER grant for CDTA: Schumer made a personal push to Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and helped secure a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the Capital District Transportation Authority. This investment will be used to design and purchase a state of the art, computer aided dispatch system that will be the “nerve center” of CDTA’s operation and enable an expansion of the successful bus rapid transit routes to better connect riders across the region.
Fought to Protect Riders & Secured Funding for 45 New Rail Safety Inspectors Following the Metro-North Derailment: In the wake of the tragic Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North accident, Schumer secured $185 million in federal funds that will be directed to the Federal Railroad Administration to hire 45 much-need railroad inspectors. Prior to the funding, the Federal Railroad Administration lacked the resources to inspect 99 percent of the nation’s rails and was unable to sufficiently prepare for the oversight of new safety measures. With the resources Schumer helped secure, the agency will be able to hire an additional 45 inspectors, inspect far more track, and begin sending safety "strike teams" to railroads around the nation in order to conduct additional safety audits helping to keep commuters across New York safe.
Secured Highland Falls School District Impact Aid Funding through the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act:Schumer relentlessly fought to secure funding for the high-need school district of Highland Falls. The school district is in a unique position the land within the district is approximately 93 percent exempt from property taxation due to wholly exempt federal and state-owned land. In fact, property taxes cannot be collected on the 70 percent of the district that is occupied by the United States Military Academy at West Point. Highland Falls therefore has a very small tax base and has been drastically and constantly shortchanged by the state and federal government. In the new NDAA law, Schumer secured a three-year extension of critical "Impact Aid" funding for the school district, providing approximately $2 million per year in federal aid.
Brought High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Designation to Rockland, Putnam & Dutchess Counties:Schumer pushed the Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate Dutchess, Putnam and Rockland Counties as federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, and they approved the designation this year. This designation provides critical assistance to these three counties to address the recent and disturbing uptick in heroin usage and drug-related crime by improving coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as providing equipment, technology and additional resources that the County needs to tackle this challenge.
Delivered The Army’s Largest-Ever Renewable Energy Project To Ft. Drum: Recognizing that the long-term security of Ft. Drum relies upon its ability to be independent of the local energy grid, Schumer worked with both local and Army officials, including his former colleague, now Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, to deliver a 20-year energy contract to Ft. Drum, worth up to $289 million. ReEnergy Holdings, a renewable power provider in Latham, will now supply power to Fort Drum, marking the Army’s largest renewable energy project ever. The contract will support hundreds of jobs locally, especially in the forestry sector while it creates 170 jobs directly in Watertown.
Central New York
Continued the Effort to Protect 1,700 Lockheed Martin Corp. Jobs in Syracuse: Schumer placed personal phone calls to Lockheed Martin CEO, Marillyn Hewson, and successfully urged her to abandon plans to consolidate Lockheed’s Salina plant into other locations across the country. Schumer has been a longtime advocate on behalf of Lockheed Martin in New York and has helped use his influence to protect and create jobs at their facilities throughout the state.
Brought Home Nearly $2.5 million to Onondaga Community College after rallying support for federal investment at Byrne Dairy: Effort will help address skills gap: Schumer launched a push this past year to secure federal Department of Labor funding to establish a program at Onondaga Community College (OCC) that would re-train local veterans and unemployed persons to work in places like Byrne Dairy, and throughout the Central New York Region, in the growing field of agribusiness and mechatronics. Both agribusiness and mechatronics incorporate engineering, mechanics, electronics, and other technical jobs companies are hoping to fill. According to SUNY OCC, the field of mechatronics is a rapidly growing industry and is expected to create over 2,800 jobs in the Central New York Region alone between 2010 and 2020. With the $2.5 million in-hand, OCC will now be able to work with employers to train workers and subsequently fill countless vacant jobs across CNY that require an understanding of these specific skills.
Spearheaded The Push To Create Harriet Tubman National Historic Park In Auburn: Schumer, after years of working with Cayuga County officials, was successful this year in pushing his Senate colleagues to support a provision in the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to establish the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park, which would also encompass important historical structures in Auburn. They include Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried. The Cayuga County Office of Tourism estimates approximately 70 new jobs would be supported and tourism spending in Cayuga would increase by $3.12 million annually as a result of the legislation.
Rochester Finger Lakes
Helped Create 240 New Jobs & Protect Over 1,400 Others by Fighting for Bausch + Lomb and Strengthening Hickey Freeman in Rochester: Schumer has been a long time champion of Hickey Freeman, the famed Rochester suit manufacturer. This year, Schumer helped secure commitments to produce two new clothing lines at the Rochester facility. Dillard’s Department Store will be bringing the production of its Daniel Cremieux Signature Collection from Italy to Rochester and suits and sport jackets made under Polo Ralph Lauren’s “Blue Label” will also be produced in Rochester. The Dillard's work will add 10 to 15 percent more work volume at the once-struggling plant and that the first Rochester-made Daniel Cremieux product is expected to begin shipping this fall. Ralph Lauren production is already underway. These two new lines will help ensure Hickey Freeman remains growing and strong in Rochester for years to come.
When Bausch+Lomb was acquired by Valeant, Schumer personally pushed Valeant CEO Mike Pearson to bring production of their new “ULTRA” contact lenses to Rochester, rather than to Ireland as planned. The new line, which was unveiled earlier this year will not only retain roughly 1,000 employees in Research & Development in Rochester but will also help to add 240 new jobs at the facility. Schumer will continue to be a vocal and strong advocate for helping Bausch+Lomb continue to grow in Rochester.
Led the charge to secure $16.5 million to fill in southeast Inner Loop: Schumer has long fought to secure funding to make this high-priority Rochester redevelopment project a reality by making in-person appeals about this project to two different Secretaries of Transportation. Since 2011, he has led the push to secure millions in federal Department of Transportation (DOT) funds for the Inner Loop project, culminating this year in securing $16.5 million in federal TIGER DOT funding. The Inner Loop Expressway is an underutilized and deteriorating highway that has isolated Rochester’s downtown from the rest of the City and its vibrant neighborhoods nearby. It has created an impediment to economic activity and business development in the area for nearly 50 years. The new project will remove the southeast section of this obstructive, 12-lane wide Inner Loop and replace it with a new, high-quality city boulevard and thus open up six acres for new prime real-estate development.
Schumer successfully teamed with local Veterans to establish new WNY Veteran Cemetery: Schumer has long argued that it is critical to have a new Veterans’ Cemetery in Western New York, and he pushed the VA, as well as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to choose a site and conduct the necessary environmental reviews as quickly as possible. These efforts culminated in the VA purchasing a 132-acre parcel at 1232 Indian Falls Road in the Town of Pembroke, Genesee County, just north of the Pembroke Thruway exit as the site of the new cemetery. This Veterans’ Cemetery will be the first and only of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area, and will save thousands of military families from having to travel upward of 100 miles to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest Veterans’ Cemetery in Bath, NY.
Secured Major Contract to Build Mission Systems for the ‘Marine One’ Helicopter at Lockheed Martin in Owego, Creating and Supporting 250 Jobs: After the cancellation of the Presidential helicopter program in 2009, Schumer worked to provide funding to minimize job losses at Lockheed Martin in Owego. With the emergence of a new contracting opportunity, Schumer continuously supported the new Marine One contract, lobbied the Department of Defense and the Appropriations Committee and made several visits to the Owego facility in 2013 and 2014. Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin were awarded a $1.24 billion contract that ensures the mission systems of the helicopter will be designed and manufactured at Lockheed Martin in Owego. Additionally, Schumer successfully secured $368 million in funding for the Marine One Helicopter program in the recently passed Omnibus Budget Bill for 2015.
Won Air Force commitment to fund the demolition and clean-up of former BAE Site in Westover: Flooding from Tropical Storm Lee damaged this facility beyond repair, resulting in an inhabitable building, requiring costly security and maintenance, a blight on neighboring properties, and impeding redevelopment. After visiting the area after the floods, and many times since, Schumer successfully lobbied the Air Force to begin the process of demolition and cleanup to enable the community to fully move forward with recovery and ensure the cost was not borne by the locals. In March, Schumer announced the Environmental Assessment would begin and later this year that the Air Force had agreed to fund the $17.3 million demolition project.
Western New York
Successfully fought to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York – Schumer has long-known that the Buffalo Bills are the heart of WNY and are a major asset to business and economic development in the region. Over the last decade, he has been a relentless advocate for keeping the Bills in Western New York. Schumer built a strong relationship with owner Ralph Wilson, and made it a top priority to protect the future of the Buffalo Bills, working with Wilson and other leaders to help ensure that the NFL helped small market teams. After Mr. Wilson’s passing in March, Schumer went right to work and spoke with a number of prospective buyers in an effort to secure commitments to keep the team in WNY. Ultimately, Schumer received assurances from Terry and Kim Pegula that they would keep the team in Western New York, and Schumer worked to persuade the other NFL owners, who approve new team ownership, that the Pegulas were the right fit. The deal was unanimously approved for $1.4 billion in October.
Created the Pre-Inspection Pilot Program at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo: For nearly 3 years, Schumer led the effort to create a pre-inspection pilot program for commercial truck traffic and to bring that pilot program to the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. Pre-inspection of U.S.-bound truck traffic at the Peace Bridge helps to alleviate huge delays that have put a serious damper on international commerce and tourism, and that exacerbate traffic snarls and air pollution. Schumer worked with several Customs and Border Protection Commissioners and Secretaries of Homeland Security to conceive of the pilot, and then secure an agreement between U.S. and Canadian Authorities to work towards the creation of the program. The pilot program kicked off February 24 and is currently working and helping reduce traffic at the border crossing.
Secured funding for an additional 100 CBP agents in Western New York: After reports that lack of proper staffing was resulting in back-ups at many of Western New York’s border crossings including the Peace Bridge, Schumer went to work to secure an additional $165 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in this year’s budget. The funding increase secured by Schumer will allow CBP to hire 2,000 additional agents nationwide. Schumer was able to secure a commitment from the Commissioner that at least 100 of those agents will be used to help reduce delays in Western New York. This is a critical allocation because excessive backlogs and lane closures at the Peace Bridge and other Western New York crossings have stalled traffic and increased wait times, which has hurt the regional economy and delayed travelers to and from Western New York.
Secured $810 million for Bay Park sewage plant rebuilding effort: The Bay Park Sewage Plant is the largest sewage treatment facility in Nassau County and services over 550,000 residents. During Superstorm Sandy, the facility was extremely damaged and repairs to the plant were estimated at roughly $850 million. In order to avoid a massive blow to Nassau County taxpayers, Schumer met with FEMA officials in Washington and fought to secure a grant to rebuild the plant and improve its storm resiliency. The county was subsequently awarded a massive $810 million FEMA grant to rebuild the plant -- the largest sanitary sewer project in FEMA's history -- and Schumer continues to push for an additional $690 million to fund a new pipeline leading directly to the Atlantic Ocean through other federal, state, and local funding channels.
Achieved Fluke Fairness for LI Anglers after years of pressure: A key federal fishery council approved a proposed amendment that dramatically changed the unfair and inequitable treatment of Long Island anglers. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is one of the two fishery management bodies authorized by Congress to regulate the fluke stock by implementing a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for both state and federal waters. After significant efforts by Schumer to demonstrate the disadvantage that Long Island anglers were facing, the ASMFC voted to adopt a uniform bag and size-limit for fluke in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut waters in 2014.
Secured Funding for Long Beach Medical Center: Long Beach Medical Center (LBMC) was extremely damaged by Superstorm Sandy: In February, Schumer called on FEMA to ensure that the Long Beach community did not lose access to the vital health care services provided by the hospital. Schumer’s call on FEMA resulted in a positive Advisory Opinion that allowed the transfer of critical funds to the new owner of the facility. In addition, Schumer ensured that the new owner, South Nassau Communities Hospital, received money more than ample funds to rebuild a medical facility in Long Beach by securing the full reimbursement, approximately $170 million, from FEMA.
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