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Obama budget calls for Peace Bridge funding

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WBFO News file photo
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Peace Bridge

By Bert Gambini

Buffalo, NY – President Obama's proposed 2012 federal budget contains money that could help fund the $300 million dollar Peace Bridge Inspection Plaza.

Political leaders in Western New York have already learned that the Department of Homeland Security will not fund any border projects. But money for the Peace Bridge could come from one or possibly two budget lines in the Transportation Department.

Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins said that funding achieves the multiple goals of job creation and economic growth while expanding exports and securing our borders.

Higgins provided initial reaction to President Obama's 2012 federal budget released Monday. "Today the President gave us a framework that prioritizes job creation in America, while meeting the necessary challenges that come with cutting costs," said Congressman Higgins.

While Congressman Higgins recognizes the economic reality, he expressed concerns about how some of the budget proposals could impact Western New York, specifically the Great Lakes.

Congressman Higgins said it reduces funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $125 million below the previous enacted level, which will impact clean water restoration efforts in Lake Erie.

The spending plan also contains money for High-Speed Rail projects, but cuts by 50% aid for low-income heating assistance.

Western New York Representative Louise Slaughter agrees with the President's desire to cut spending, but says some of the proposals are unjust cuts that will hurt her constituents.

"I agree with the President that we need to reduce spending and make targeted investments in the future, but many of these cuts I see as inappropriate. There's no need to go after working class families trying to heat their homes in one of the coldest winters on record. And it's not necessary to slash funding to programs that allow economic development in our Upstate cities. These cuts are unjust and I know they will hurt my constituents," said Slaughter.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also reacted to the President's proposed spending plan.

"We need to come together - Democrats and Republicans - to take a hard look at ways we can cut spending and lower the deficit. Current spending is not sustainable and we need to cut the waste, fraud and abuse. But the cuts must be responsible and preserve security funding and critical investments in small businesses and economic development," said Gillibrand.

The President proposed budget for the next fiscal year that tops $3.7 trillion. It includes spending increases in education, biomedical research, energy efficiency, high-speed rail and other areas that Obama says are important to American competitiveness, while proposing cuts in other programs and tax increases to bring down the deficit.