Nearly two dozen elected officials, all of them Democrats, challenged local Republicans Sunday to reject GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s renunciation of the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan and to continue to give it bipartisan support.
In a news conference following his nomination last week, Astorino, who is the Westchester County executive, labeled the Buffalo Billion “unsustainable” and characterized it as “just throwing around tax dollars.”
To underscore their point, the Democrats, including Rep. Brian Higgins, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, issued their call from a site bustling with construction supported in part by the Buffalo Billion: the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
“After decades of neglect for Western New York by downstate politicians like Rob Astorino, the Buffalo Billion and other state initiatives are transforming our region,” the officials declared in a joint statement. “You need only look to the cranes piercing the skyline to see the new energy in Buffalo and Western New York.”
In addition to work on the Medical Campus, they cited the clean energy and high-tech manufacturing project on the former Republic Steel site in South Buffalo, the 43North program to attract entrepreneurs, and the investments in Niagara Falls tourism.
The Buffalo Billion, announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his 2012 State of the State address, was intended to provide incentives for economic development efforts here.
“The state’s support for Buffalo and Western New York over the past three years has not been a Democrat- or Republican-driven initiative,” the officials said. “In fact, the Buffalo Billion was approved by the State Legislature with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats.”
“That’s why,” they added, “we are calling on our Republican colleagues, and candidates for office, to repudiate Rob Astorino’s shocking rejection of the Buffalo Billion. The Buffalo Billion and other state incentives have been above partisan politics – and that’s what makes it work.”