No Route 219 funds in NY budget proposal

Posted on January 22nd, 2015

By Rick Miller, Olean Times Herald

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There was no mention of funding for Route 219 environmental studies in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday. Nor was there any specific funding allotted for the Route 219 studies in the proposed $141.6 billion state budget for 2015-16.

“It was a prime opportunity to dedicate some infrastructure funds from the banks settlement,” said State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. “We’ve tried to include funding for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in the state budget for the past three or four years.”

The Route 219 environmental studies are needed before any additional work can be done on the 28-mile corridor between Springville and Salamanca.

“It only makes sense,” Sen. Young said of the Toronto-to-Miami trade route of which Route 219 would be an important part. “It opens up all kinds of economic opportunity.

“You can’t discount the safety factor. Too many people have died or were seriously injured on that highway.”

Sen. Young plans to push for funding for the Route 219 SEIS in budget negotiations.

The senator said she liked the governor’s proposal to expand broadband availability to all corners of the state, which piggybacks on a bill she sponsored that was passed and signed into law last year.

“Broadband is huge for our region,” she added. “It will open up more economic opportunity.”

The State of the State address and budget message — combined due to the death of Gov. Cuomo’s father, former governor Mario Cuomo, earlier this month — is a lot to analyze at once, said Sen. Young.

“Some of the proposals will be easy to pass, while lively debate can be expected on others, including juvenile reform and educational reform,” she said.

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, saw something he liked right off the bat.

“What I liked was there’s not too much of an increase in the overall budget,” he said. “I think we are holding the line.”

What Assemblyman Giglio would have liked to have seen was more help for the Southern Tier in terms of economic development.

“He needs to be more specific on what he plans to do to help us economically,” he said.

Funding for the Route 219 SEIS would have helped fill that bill, he added.

Economic development help for the Southern Tier should not end in Binghamton, Assemblyman Giglio said. The governor sometimes forgets the Southern Tier of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben counties, he added.

“We get tossed in with the Buffalo Billion (investment plan), but the Southern Tier needs help,” Assemblyman Giglio said.

The assemblyman said he was disappointed that there was no word by Gov. Cuomo about mandate relief; state takeover of Medicaid; or the gap elimination adjustment, which pulls school aid back from districts to help balance the state budget.