Corning, N.Y., October 20—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) today joined local leaders, and town and county highway superintendents from throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to kick off the group’s annual “Local Roads Matter” campaign.
Beginning in 2013, O’Mara, Palmesano and Assemblyman Chris Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) have steadily helped build a broad, grassroots, statewide coalition of state legislators, local highway superintendents, highway crews, county executives, mayors, town supervisors and other local leaders from every corner of New York State lead the fight in the Legislature for stronger state support for local roads, bridges and culverts. In 2016, they brought together a bipartisan coalition of 130 senators and members of the Assembly to support the effort, more than 60% of the entire Legislature.
It’s an effort they say helped set the stage for the increased state funding included in the current 2016-17 New York State budget for roads, bridges and culverts locally and statewide through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and other state investments, as well as long-overdue parity in funding between the state Department of the Transportation (DOT) and the Metroplitan Transportation Authority (MTA) five-year capital plans.
O’Mara said today’s rally is being held for two reasons. First and foremost, this is the time of year when Governor Andrew Cuomo and state departments and agencies are putting together next year’s Executive Budget proposal. Consequently, this is the time to start ramping up public support to help ensure that parity in transportation funding continues.
Secondly, O’Mara said that his opponent in this year’s campaign for the 58th Senate District has been critical of his and the group’s work on the “Local Roads Matter” campaign -- and that the criticism puts the integrity and future success of the effort at risk.
O’Mara said, “I’m proud to stand here again this year with Assemblyman Palmesano and our local highway superintendents and other local leaders. What we’ve accomplished together over the past several years has been successful, despite my opponent’s repeatedly untrue and unfounded criticisms of it. We have built up the “Local Roads Matter” campaign and brought it to the public’s attention like never before. Most importantly, the annual wave of local highway superintendents descending on the State Capitol every March has caught the attention of our colleagues in the Legislature, on a bipartisan basis, and it’s producing the results we need for all of our communities and regions.”
O’Mara added, “This year’s funding marks a return to parity which had always been equitable until 2010, a time when the State Senate was controlled, for a two-year period, by the New York City Democrats.”
Palmesano said, "It has been a privilege to work so closely with Senator Tom O'Mara on this and so many other priority issues facing our localities. There is no stronger advocate in the state Legislature when it comes to infrastructure funding for our region and our state. Whether it is leading the fight for and delivering on parity between the five-year DOT Capital Plan and the five-year MTA Capital plan, the completion of Interstate 86 and Interstate 99 in our region, or four consecutive years of record increases in local road, bridge and culvert funding for our local municipalities and property taxpayers through the CHIPS funding formula, Tom has been there for us year after year and he has delivered! For his opponent to continue to misrepresent Tom's incredible work on this important issue to voters is not just disappointing, it is simply just false!"
O’Mara and Palmesano said the annual “Local Roads Matter” campaign has helped to increase CHIPS funding by $125 million from 2013 to 2015. The 2016-17 state budget contains even more significant increases (see details below) and, for the first time since 2010, parity in funding between the five-year state Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital plans. Furthermore, a recent analysis by Politico found that the funding that will be directed to upgrading roads and bridges throughout the Southern Tier under DOT’s new five-year capital plan will be “the most earmarked for any upstate region.”
In a joint statement, O’Mara and Palmesano said, “We’ve worked hard on this as a priority, session after session since 2011. It’s very gratifying that this year’s state budget begins to take the kind of action that’s absolutely needed for local transportation infrastructure. After five years, beginning in 2008, when state support for local roads and bridges remained stagnant, the state’s recognition over the past several years, and especially this year, of the importance of CHIPS and parity in statewide transportation funding will continue making a significant difference for our local governments, local economies, local property taxpayers and motorist safety locally and statewide. We will continue to work with Governor Cuomo, our legislative colleagues and local highway superintendents and leaders across this region and state on this vitally important challenge and priority. But make no mistake, this year’s budget marks an important move forward. The improvement and upkeep of local roads and bridges is a wise investment of taxpayer dollars. Every additional dollar of state support means a dollar less that our local property taxpayers have to pay. It’s also an important investment in economic growth and job creation throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and all across New York. We’ll keep working and building on it.”
Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said, “Through the many years of effort from Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano in support of funding for local roads and bridges, Chemung County has realized significant increases in aid for our local transportation infrastructure. Local roads do matter, and this infusion of State money will assist local governments in maintaining our roadways and bridges and improve safety while not adding the burden to the local taxpayer.”
Corning Mayor Rich Negri said, "Addressing our city's infrastructure needs has continued to be a priority of the City Council for our residents. The significant additional funding that Senator O'Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano have helped to secure for the city over the last four years has made a great difference and goes directly to improve our roads and bridges. It allows us to do that much more work without asking property taxpayers to bear the burden of additional costs. Mayors and local officials from across this state appreciate the ongoing focus that Senator O'Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano are giving this fundamentally important challenge for all local governments."
David Hartman, Yates County Highway Superintendent and Past President (2012) of the NYS County Highway Superintendents Association said, “We continue to appreciate the leadership of Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano to keep fighting for increased state support for CHIPS funding and other investments that are the lifelines for local highway departments. It has been enormously encouraging to know that Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano understand the challenges facing local highway departments to be able to properly maintain and upgrade the vast local systems of roads and bridges that we’re responsible for. We know that they’re standing behind us and working hard for all of us and the traveling public.”
Marty Roberts, former Town Highway Superintendent for the Town of Reading (Schuyler County) and Past President (2014) of the NYS Association of Town Highway Superintendents said, “I spent a lot of years, here at home and in Albany, working with Tom and Phil to support the ‘Local Roads Matter’ effort to increase local highway and bridge funding. It’s fantastic to see that their hard work in partnership with my colleagues from all over the state is producing the important results we’ve seen over the past four years. Great work on their behalf making it known that CHIPS funding is a wise investment of state dollars that makes an enormous difference to the local transportation infrastructure that’s so important to economic development and job creation, getting students to school safely, and strengthening local communities and taxpayers in so many other ways. Without the kind of representation we have received from Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano, the difficult job that all of these highway leaders do would be even harder. Without their continuing effort to provide this much needed assistance to local transportation infrastructure, we as users of the system would suffer greatly. Thank you Tom and Phil for your continued efforts in Albany.”
The 2016-17 budget provides $438 million in direct funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) while an additional $400 million ($100 million a year over four years) of funding for local roads will also be allocated through the CHIPS funding formula from a newly established PAVE-NY program for local roads. Another $400 million from a new BRIDGE- NY program for local bridge projects will also be allocated statewide with local input. Combined, the funding is providing significant increases to counties, cities, towns and villages across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide for local roads and bridges.
Today’s speakers pointed to all of these actions – parity in transportation funding, and driving significant, additional state aid to local municipalities through CHIPS, PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY – as among the top achievements of the new state budget and evidence that the “Local Roads Matter” campaign is helping to secure a fair share of state dollars for the region after years of neglect.
O’Mara, Palmesano and Friend said that area counties are receiving the following CHIPS and PAVE-NY funding under this year’s state budget (including total, four-year aid percentage increases from 2012-13 to 2016-17):
> Chemung County's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $1,652,383.12 and the county’s PAVE-NY allocation is $377,172.89 for a total of $2,029,556.01, or an increase of approximately 46% since 2012-13;
> Schuyler County's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $861,029.08 and the county's PAVE-NY allocation is $196,538.46 for a total of $1,057,567.54, or an increase of approximately 45%;
> Steuben County's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $4,429,818.11 and the county's PAVE-NY allocation is $1,011,150.07 for a total of $5,440,968.19, or an increase of approximately 48%;
> Tompkins County's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $2,024,154.78 and the county's PAVE-NY allocation is $462,033.47 for a total of $2,486,188.26, or an increase of approximately 47%; and
> Yates County's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $1,168,287.92 and the county's PAVE-NY allocation is $266,673.34 for a total of $1,434,961.27, or an increase of approximately 48%.
They said that area cities will receive the following CHIPS and PAVE-NY funding (including total, four-year aid percentage increases from 2012-13 to 2016-17):
> Corning's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $403,503.43 and the city's PAVE-NY allocation is $92,103.67 for a total of $495,607.10, or an increase of approximately 53%;
> Elmira's 2016-17CHIPS allocation is $795,744.84 and the city's PAVE-NY allocation is $181,636.68 for a total of $977,381.52, or an increase of 50%;
> Hornell's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $243,544.77 and the city's PAVE-NY allocation is $55,591.52 for a total of $299,136.29, or an increase of 51%; and
> Ithaca's 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $437,871.63 and the city's PAVE-NY allocation is $99,948.56 for a total of $537,820.19, or an increase of 52%.
Palmesano, who also represents a part of Seneca County, said that Seneca County’s 2016-17 CHIPS allocation is $1,026,020.33 and the county’s PAVE-NY allocation is $234,199.35 for a total of $1,260,219.68, or an increase of approximately 47%.
The lawmakers noted that regional towns and villages are also receiving similarly increased state aid.