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Kennedy rallies local support for 2nd phase of Buffalo Billion

State Sen. Tim Kennedy believes communities must make a stake to keep state money coming to their regions.

So Kennedy on Friday brought leaders of about a dozen organizations to speak out in support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed $500 million in state money for another round of projects. As a follow up to what was called the Buffalo Billion, this new round of funding has been dubbed the Buffalo Billion Squared.

The first round of Buffalo Billion funding has boosted the area economy, Kennedy said, and the next phase is still needed and would build on the success of the first.

"Nothing is guaranteed in the budget and nothing is safe," Kennedy told reporters outside the University Metro Station, now the northern terminus of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Metro Rail. Financial support for the metro rail's proposed expansion into Amherst was included in Cuomo's proposal.

Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, said legislators from other parts of the state may be jealous of Buffalo because it has been the target for additional state funding. He said he does not want the next phase of funding to disappear as negotiations over the state budget continue.

Kennedy also said he would not vote for a state budget that does not include proposed funding for the next phase of the Buffalo Billion. At this point, though, no one has suggested money be removed, TBut there has been a demand for greater input on how the money is spent and oversight on how the money is spent.

Those who spoke out in support of the continued funding on Friday included Matthew K. Enstice, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; NFTA Executive Director Kimberly Minkel; Michael Cain, dean of the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; David Rust, executive director of Say Yes Buffalo; Benjamin Cashaw, Fruit Belt Coalition president; Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership; and Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara.

What's in the Buffalo Billion, Part 2?

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