Western New York fared well in the heat of this month's budget battles on Capitol Hill, with the local delegation winning some key provisions -- both within the tax cut legislation and in separate spending bills -- that could send millions in federal aid this way.
One completed deal, pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer, adds Buffalo to the list of homeland security "high-threat" cities based on this region's border crossings. Schumer's office said that will send $10 million to Buffalo to cover the costs of the elevated orange alert of recent weeks.
The Senate version of tax cut legislation added $20 billion nationally to Medicaid and other aid sent to the states by the federal government. While that's lower than the $40 billion in state aid originally sought, the measure -- if it survives the blending of the Senate and House versions of the bill -- would channel $2.2 billion to New York State, including $48 million for Western New York. Erie County could see $29.6 million, including $16.8 million in extra Medicaid assistance and $12.8 million in general fiscal relief.
A third provision, sought not only in the Senate but by Reps. Jack Quinn and Thomas Reynolds in the House, makes a logical but significant change in the determination of the local Renewal Community Zones, which could offer up to $1.2 billion worth of tax credits to businesses locating in this area. Local designations were won last year, but were based on 1990 census data. The new provision redraws the zones based on 2000 census data -- tripling the size of the zones in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and doubling the zone in Jamestown.