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Schumer’s Infrastructure Plan Will Create Jobs And Provide The Federal Funding Needed To Upgrade Upstate New York’s Crumbling Water-Sewer Systems, Roads, Bridges, Energy Grids, Improve Access To High-Speed Internet And Build New Schools

Schumer: Upstate New York’s Infrastructure Is Falling Further And Further Behind And Has Become A Drag On Regional Economies, Costing Middle-Class Families Millions And Hurting Job Growth

Schumer: This Is A Real Plan To Rebuild Our Decrepit Roads, Bridges & Water-Sewer Systems

On a call with Reporters, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced his Jobs and Infrastructure Plan that would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to help modernize Upstate New York’s crumbling infrastructure and create thousands of jobs that Upstate New York’s economy desperately needs. Schumer highlighted specific infrastructure projects in Upstate New York that desperately need upgrades including roads, bridges, transit systems, water-and-sewer systems, and the electrical grid, as well as the creation of new projects for rural broadband, storm- and flood-mitigation and resiliency, new schools and workforce-training facilities.

“Infrastructure in Upstate New York and beyond is falling apart. Each day, thousands of New York’s students attend school in buildings that are crumbling beneath them; thousands of New Yorkers in the North Country lack access to high-speed Internet, and local governments are faced with the impossible choice of allowing water and sewer systems to deteriorate further or raising local taxes on already struggling middle-class families,” said Schumer. “That’s why we need to pave the way for real infrastructure funding that revives our economy, ensures public safety and doesn’t crush local taxpayers with billions of dollars in past neglect. This new infrastructure and jobs plan does just that, providing direct federal resources and investment to fix New York’s aging sewers, roads, schools and bridges.

Schumer added, “We have unveiled a new plan, because it is clear we need a wide-sweeping infrastructure strategy – and we need it now. The administration talked a big game on infrastructure investment, but then delivered a plan that just won’t get the job done. Well, this plan will; Our plan would create more jobs than the administration plan, build more projects, and build the infrastructure America actually needs, not just what crony donors and private investors can profit from. It is one of the most comprehensive overhaul proposals in a generation, and now I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, are challenging the administration to work with us on this broad plan that will sustain our positive economic growth, create millions of jobs, and build a modern economy.”

In New York alone, the implications of minimal investment in infrastructure over the last few decades has become increasingly apparent. Schumer pointed to an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report stating that over half of New York’s 17,000 bridges are over 75 years old, and New York’s roadways are in increasingly worse condition, costing drivers hundreds of dollars a year in extra operating costs. In fact, ASCE estimates that poor road and bridge conditions in New York cost the average family with two cars over $1,000 a year in Albany, over $800 a year in Rochester and over $900 a year in Syracuse.

Furthermore, Upstate New York’s transit systems require at least $1 billion in capital over the next five years just to maintain a state of good repair, and tens of billions more are needed for downstate transit and rail systems. In addition to roads and transit systems, New York’s water and sewer systems are also starving for federal investment. Schumer highlighted that one out of every four of New York’s wastewater facilities is operating beyond its useful life, and 30 percent of New York’s 22,000 miles of underground sewers are more than 60 years old. A report by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli put New York’s combined water and sewer needs at more than $30 billion.

In addition to these areas, investment is also needed in other types of infrastructure like broadband, dredging, flood mitigation, environmental clean-up and redevelopment, and school construction. According to New York State, as of December 2014 there were approximately 2.5 million households across Upstate New York that did not have access to 100 Mbps broadband service, a problem that limits further growth and economic development in many regions of the State. Additionally, over 220,000 households do not even have access to 25 Mbps broadband service. New York’s infrastructure is getting so old that each year the Army Corps of Engineers alone has millions of dollars of unfunded dredging and flood control projects throughout Upstate New York that put homeowners at risk of devastating flooding should another Irene or Lee type storm hit the region. Schumer also highlighted that in some regions of the State – like throughout the Hudson Valley – the lack of investment in water, sewer, and energy infrastructure has significantly reduced the number of shovel-ready sites, hurting the region’s ability to attract new employers.

A list of local projects that could benefit from the infrastructure proposal appears below:

  • Buffalo
    • Upgrade the Buffalo Sewers, improving the quality of local waterways
  • Rochester
    • The Genesee River Corridor, with 28 transformative infrastructure and economic development projects planned, which are valued at $500 million in total.
  • Syracuse
    • the transformation of I-81
  • Mohawk Valley
    • Will help Oneida County and its towns as they undertake a $300 million upgrade to the county’s sewage treatment plant.
  • North Country
    • increased resources to improve high-speed internet access in the North Country
  • Hudson Valley
    • Renovation of Route 17, adding a third lane to the vital road that has been plagued by congestion as it links major economic drivers to the region.  
    • Expanding and enhancing White Plains downtown Business District
  • Albany
    • Upgrade local water and sewer lines, as well as the combined sewer overflows that foul the Hudson River
    • Renovate or replace the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which is currently the only means passenger trains have of traveling west and north of Rensselaer, as it was built 115 years ago.
  • Southern Tier
    • Help with some or all of the $295 million worth of upgrades and repairs to the Johnson City Binghamton Joint Sewage Treatment Plant reach the finish line, so New Yorkers won’t be forced to bear the whole burden of these costs
    • Invest in bridge repairs throughout Binghamton and the Southern Tier.
  • Long Island
    • East Side Access
    • Sewer upgrades in Suffolk County
    • LIRR Upgrades
    • Smith Point Bridge overhaul in Suffolk
    • Continued upgrades to Nassau and Suffolk Sewer treatment plants

Specifically, the plan would be paid for responsibly through the following five measures:

-          Return The Top Individual Tax Rate Back To 39.6%

  • The Senate GOP’s lowering of the top rate to 37 percent was nothing more than a tax giveaway to the super rich, and such a provision would increase federal revenues to pay for infrastructure improvements by $139 billion over 10 years.

-          Restoring The Individual Alternative Minimum Tax To 2017 Law

  • The AMT ensures that high-income earners cannot avoid taxes by abusing deductions and other loopholes, and returning it to 2017 law would not only ensure the top 1 percent pay their fair share, but it would also increase federal revenues by $429 billion over 10 years.

-          Restoring The Estate And Gift Taxes

  • In their tax bill, Republicans doubled estate tax exemption levels to $11 million for individuals and a whopping $22 million for married couples, a maneuver that benefited no one other than millionaires and billionaires. Using the $83 billion in federal revenues it would bring back over 10 years could pay for massive infrastructure improvements that would benefit middle-class families.

-          Closing The Carried Interest Loophole

  • Despite campaign promises to end the carried interest loophole, President Trump and the Senate GOP let it continue, which enables Wall Street high fliers to continue disguising their income as capital gains to avoid taxes. Closing this loophole would increase federal revenues by $12 billion over 10 years.

-          Bring The Corporate Tax Rate To 25%

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to a competitive 25 percent would allow American businesses to stay competitive without providing a massive windfall to special interests that results in stock buybacks and CEO bonuses being prioritized over hiring new employees and increasing workers’ pay. Before the Republican tax bill, many corporations supported a 25 percent rate as a fair tax rate.  Reversing this trickle-down economic policy would bring in $359 billion that could be put toward infrastructure improvements across the country.