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State of the Union draws mixed local reaction

Buffalo-area Congressmen Chris Collins and Brian Higgins offered limited praise and some pointed criticism in response to President Obama's State of the Union speech.

Higgins, the South Buffalo Democrat, says he wanted the President to propose a public works bill to re-build American roads and bridges as we re-built roads and bridges in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wasn't there.

Collins, the Republican,  says he hoped for a proposal that would work with the majority in the House. It wasn't there.

Instead, the President said he would invoke executive order to raise the minimum wage on federal contracts. Collins believes that will cost jobs.

"For those that are trying to climb the ladder of success, what you do is you get on to the ladder. And, he just chopped off the first rung on the ladder," Collins said.

"What he does in actions like that is incentivize businesses to replace some of these jobs with automation or what I think you'll see is some employees at companies losing their jobs."

Collins admits the President does have the executive power to raise wages, but he shouldn't.

Higgins says there is a need to raise the minimum wage but it isn't likely to happen legislatively.

"It wasn't bold and visionary. It was thematic," Higgins said of the President's speech. 

"I think the President was pointing out that the strength of the Union is based on the strength of the American people and their resilience and optimism."

Higgins says he's optimistic a proposal for public works will surface because Republicans and Democrats can usually agree on those bills.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.