Lowey Highlights New York and Lower Hudson Valley Priorities in President’s Budget Proposal
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Westchester/Rockland), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, highlighted New York and Lower Hudson Valley priorities included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal released today.
“The President’s budget proposal is a responsible plan that helps hardworking Americans and invests in the future of our nation,” said Lowey. “As the economy continues its recovery, the Congress has been presented a bold, forward-looking strategy that would also benefit the state of New York and the Lower Hudson Valley. This includes investments in early and higher education, child nutrition, small business, medical research, transportation infrastructure, and important measures to combat prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic. As Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, I will be fighting to fund many of the President’s proposals. Now is the time to secure continued prosperity for American families and businesses.”
Access to higher education begins with making college affordable for hardworking students. Federal student loans and Pell Grants are essential in making a college education a reality. Many low-income, full-time students at public and private colleges throughout the country – including here in the Lower Hudson Valley – must balance their work and family lives while obtaining a degree to get a better-paying job. More than 20,000 low-income students who attend college in New York’s 17th Congressional District, which includes parts of Westchester and all of Rockland, received Pell Grants worth almost $80 million during the 2014-2015 school year. The President’s budget would:
- Fully fund the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income students to $5,935 for the 2017-2018 school year and continue to index Pell Grants to inflation.
- Make Pell Grants to low-income students available year-round, helping an estimated 700,000 students nationwide receive an average of $1,900 in additional Pell Grant support to graduate college faster, accumulate less debt, and enter the workforce more quickly.
- Provide a $300 “On-Track Pell Bonus” for Pell students who take at least 15 credits per semester.
- Expand the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) to be available for up to five years and refundable up to $1,500. In addition, the budget would exempt Pell Grants from taxation and the AOTC maximum calculation.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION
Access to educational opportunity leads to economic security for children and families. Title I funding improves students’ academic environment and prospects for success while helping offset local tax burdens. Title I funds provided nearly $29.5 million to public schools within New York’s 17th Congressional District in Fiscal Year 2015. The President’s budget would:
- Increase Title I grants to local school districts by 3 percent, or $450 million, to offset costs of student improvement for students in need and reduce burden on local taxpayers.
CHILD CARE & EARLY EDUCATION
Access to quality, affordable child care for young children in need is vitally important for working families in New York. Early education programs like Head Start prepare children for school through literacy activities, as well as immunizations, vision screenings, dental care, and more, while allowing parents the flexibility to go to work and provide for their families. In 2014, Head Start programs served almost one million children and their families nationwide, including more than 3,000 in Westchester and Rockland counties and 50,000 across New York. The President’s budget would:
- Increase federal investments in Head Start by $434 million to maintain enrollment and provide additional full-day, full-year services for more children.
- Provide an increase of $201 million for Child Care Development Block Grants, allowing low-income working families to access to affordable, high-quality child care while parents are at work.
- Invest an additional $100 million in Preschool Development Grants to expand universal preschool in states like New York, which received nearly $22.5 million in Preschool Development Expansion Grants announced last year.
PREVENTING HEROIN & OPIOID ABUSE
Prescription opioid abuse and the heroin epidemic are ravaging communities across the country, including the Lower Hudson Valley. Bending the trajectory of this epidemic downward and keeping our neighborhoods safe and healthy requires a bold plan. The President’s budget includes:
- $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. This funding would boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery.
- $500 million – an increase of more than $90 million – to continue and build on current efforts across the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
The Lower Hudson Valley and New York metro region understand the need to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Investing in roads, bridges, broadband lines, water and sewage treatment facilities, and power grids is critical to keeping people safe, while setting the stage for economic growth and job creation. Congresswoman Lowey supports a comprehensive, long-term transportation funding plan to upgrade our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The President’s budget would:
- Increase from $500 million to $1.25 billion the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which invests in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives.
- Provide $1.3 billion for positive train control (PTC), a monumental increase over the current federally funded level of $25 million, to help prevent accidents on our nation’s extensive railway system.
- Increase funding from $1.39 billion to $2.3 billion for Amtrak, including $700 million for the Northeast Corridor.
- Include $1.6 million for Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to conduct expanded research, including work with the Department of Energy on test methods for crude oil, carrying out combustion experiments, and modeling to develop hazard profiles of different crude oils.
SUMMER MEALS FOR CHILDREN
Hunger doesn’t stop at the end of the school year. Students in Westchester who rely on free or reduced price meals are threatened with food insecurity over the summer. According to the Food Bank for Westchester, approximately 200,000 people are at risk of hunger or are facing food insecurity in Westchester County, including 66,000 children. Families already battling through uncertainty also struggle to provide additional meals for their young children during the summer, when meals for 25,000 Westchester school children disappear. Absence of these meals served during the school year, combined with the need for additional childcare coverage, can stretch budgets to a breaking point. The President’s budget would:
- Expand the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program nationwide to provide low-income students with access to meals during the summer months. The Summer EBT nationwide expansion would provide meals for 25,000 students in Westchester and approximately 895,400 throughout New York.
SMALL BUSINESS LOANS
As our economy improves, the demand for small business loans increases. The Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs help improve the competitive position of small businesses across the country, including in the Lower Hudson Valley. In 2014, 116 small businesses in Westchester and Rockland benefitted from $24.5 million in SBA 7(a) loans alone. The President’s budget would:
- Increase the lending authority for SBA 7(a) loans, SBA’s most common loan program for small businesses, by $500 million.
- Increase Direct Microloans by 26 percent to $44.4 million, helping small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand.
- Provide $7.5 billion in loan guarantees for capital expenses through the 504 Community Development Corporation Program and $7.5 billion in lending authority for the 504 Loan Refinancing program to help small businesses refinance their existing long and medium term debt obligations.
Medical research is the lifeblood of the Lower Hudson Valley economy, creates jobs, and improves the quality of life for people suffering from debilitating diseases. According to NIH, every $1 it invests in grants generates $2.21 of economic growth. In the last 10 years, Westchester and Rockland Counties have received roughly $490 million in NIH grants, making the total economic benefit to the Lower Hudson Valley more than $1 billion. NIH provides approximately $2 billion in biomedical research grants to institutions within New York each year that conduct cutting edge research and yield life-saving results. The President’s budget would:
- Provide an additional $825 million to NIH to support innovative medical research, including the BRAIN Initiative to understand the working of the human brain and identify causes and treatments for diseases and disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Autism, and increase investments in the Precision Medicine Initiative to develop individualized treatments with a higher probability of success.
- Launch the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot to better understand the causes of cancer, develop new early detection and prevention measures, and lead the world in finding groundbreaking treatments to save lives and end suffering.
Protecting government, businesses, and private citizens from damaging cyberattacks is one of the most important challenges facing the United States today, and requires near-term actions and a long-term strategy to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security. The President’s plan would:
- Invest more than $19 billion for cybersecurity, a roughly 35 percent increase from FY 2016 in overall federal resources for cybersecurity, a necessary investment to secure our nation in the future.
Our economy is becoming increasingly technology-focused, and it is imperative that we enable opportunity for all Americans to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to obtain a good-paying job. This means the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are playing a central role in high schools and colleges across the country. The President’s budget would:
- Create a new $4 billion Computer Science for All initiative over the next three years to expand access to computer science instruction to all students.
- Create a new Teacher and Principal Pathways program to provide $125 million in grants to expand pathways into the teaching profession for high-need schools and high-need subjects, such as STEM.