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Buffalo Billion sparks political debate

WBFO File Photo

Local Democratic politicians are defending Governor Cuomo's Buffalo Billion in the wake of an attack from Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

Astorino's claim that the state plan is unsustainable has drawn a sharp, loud rebuke. Around two dozen local elected officials turned out Sunday to defend the state money, deliberately staging a news conference surrounded by the vast construction underway on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Much of that construction reflects state help in one form or another, including from the Buffalo Billion.

"It's (state investment) starting to manifest itself. The governor wants for Buffalo and Western New York what we want for ourselves and that's economic independence and self-sufficiency," said Buffalo Congressmen Brian Higgins.

"Sometimes state and federal dollars can serve as a catalyst for new private sector investment and you see that happening in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus which employs some 14,000 people today [and] will employ another 4,000 over the next four years."

Higgins says there has also been spin-off effect of the dollars coming in, shown by projects like the rehab of the Hotel Lafayette and the revival of historic buildings downtown.

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.