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Schumer Highlights New York Projects In Infrastructure Plan

Sen. Schumer
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has unveiled a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The New York Democrat spoke to reporters today, detailing how the plan would benefit the Empire State.

Senator Schumer is betting on infrastructure. And he says if nothing is done, it will become a big issue in the next election, just eight months away.

Schumer cited figures from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which estimated more than half the bridges in New York state are 75 years old. He said it costs the average family in the Albany area with two vehicles about $1,000 a year for damage caused by failing infrastructure.

The Senator provided examples of how the plan — which would fund projects with $100 billion a year over 10 years — would impact different regions of the state.

“In the North Country, it’s going to mean high-speed internet access because large parts of the North Country don’t have it. In the Hudson Valley, we’re going to finally finish Route 17 and make it a three-lane highway all the way up through into Sullivan County, there’s congestion there, as well as enhancing the traffic patterns in White Plains’ downtown business district. In Albany, we can upgrade water and sewer lines as well as the sewer overflows that foul the Hudson River,” said Schumer.

The push for infrastructure dollars led by Schumer comes on the heels of one with different paramters released in February by Republican President Donald Trump.

Trump’s plan would provide about $200 billion in funding over 10 years for local projects. The White House touts the plan as a way to spur a total of $1.5 trillion in investments through the assistance of private sources.

Democrats have dismissed the plan. On the conference call with reporters Wednesday, Schumer compared the takeoff of Trump’s plan to a “lead balloon.”

Schumer said the Democrats’ blueprint would fund projects of all sizes, including money reserved for smaller proposals.

“There’d be enough, given what we’ve proposed, that lots of projects would be chosen. It wouldn’t be a one in 20 chance. If you have a good project, you’d have a very strong chance of getting dollars,” said Schumer.

With different pots of money, says Schumer, a smaller project upstate would not compete with projects in New York City.

The big question is, who would pay for it?

Schumer said reversing some of the tax cuts recently passed by Republicans is a start.

“Most Americans would rather use these dollars to create millions of middle class jobs and redo our infrastructure than see the wealthiest corporations and very wealthiest individuals get a huge tax cut,” said Schumer.

The plan calls for returning the individual tax rate on the highest earners to 39.6 percent from 37 percent. The corporate tax rate would be bumped up to 25 percent after Republicans slashed the rate from 35 to 21 percent.

The plan would also restore the Individual Alternative Minimum Tax, restore the Estate and Gift taxes, and close the Carried Interest Loophole.

It remains to be seen if majority Republican leaders will bite on the bill.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.