Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced the House of Representatives has approved the 2023 federal budget, funding federal programs, ranging from veteran services to transportation projects, for the upcoming year.
“This is a budget that priorities people and communities, one that will invest in Western New York’s medical research, public safety, infrastructure and neighborhood renewal,” he said.
The package includes over $24.67 million toward Western New York projects requested by Higgins. Within that total is $10 million for improvements to Bird Island Pier in Buffalo, $750,000 for the Grand Island Senior Center, $900,000 toward an Amherst Police communications tower, $694,925 for the Aquarium of Niagara, $500,000 toward infrastructure improvements to Twin Cities Memorial Highway in the City of North Tonawanda, and 10 other local projects.
The bill also includes two pieces of legislation sponsored by Higgins. This includes the Medicare Opioid Use Disorder Outreach Act, a bipartisan bill that spreads awareness of treatment options for opioid use disorder available under Medicare for providers and beneficiaries; as well as the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Fairness Act, which would allow hundreds of companies to offer ESOPs to their employees more easily, adding value to corporate equity, aiding employee retention, and promoting small company growth and development.
Higgins outlined other provisions of the legislation of particular interest to Western New York.
Transportation & Infrastructure
√ Calls for the creation of a list of projects that reconnects historically divided neighborhoods and prioritizes those for a new pilot program. Higgins has suggested that the Kensington, Scajaquada and Robert Moses Parkway be included.
√ $800 million for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE – previously TIGER & BUILD). Local projects previously funded under this infrastructure program include Cars Sharing Main Street, the Niagara Falls Train Station and $25 million for middle Main Street announced this year.
√ $45 million for a new Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which will make competitive grants available for bicycle/pedestrian focused investments.
√ $368 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This is in addition to funding provided through the bipartisan infrastructure law.
√ Increases Head Start funding by $960 million to $11.99 billion, benefiting local Head Start programs like that led by the Niagara Falls City School District.
√ More than $2 billion increase, to $24.6 billion, for Pell Grants, increasing maximum grant by $500.
√ $15.4 billion for special education grants to states (IDEA), up $1 billion.
√ $105 million for Youthbuild.
√ $4.4 billion for local law enforcement grants, an increase of over $500 million.
√ $50 million for Community Violence Intervention Programs, like the Peacemakers locally.
√ $720 million for the Firefighter Grant Programs.
√ $45 million for programs to prevent and combat hate crimes.
Economic & Community Development
√ $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grant Funding, which provides flexible funding to meet the unique needs of municipalities. Local investments range from senior center and park upgrades to small business and homeowner repair assistance.
√ $85 million for a new competitive grant program for policies increasing the supply of affordable housing.
√ Largest investment in arts and humanities ($414 million).
√ $92.5 million for National Recreation and Preservation, the program funding the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
√ $40 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission, which supports economic development in distressed communities including Niagara County .
√ Increases the Small Business Administration by $188 million, to $1.2 billion. This includes $140 million for Small Business Development Centers, like those at Buffalo State College and Niagara County Community College, as well as $27 million for Women’s Business Centers like the one at Canisius College.
Health & Veterans
√ $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including $7.1 billion for the National Cancer Institute.
√ $410 million for lead hazard and healthy home initiatives.
√ A combined $4 billion for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
√ Increases funding for veteran programs by $22.5 billion, including $5 billion for veterans covered under the PACT Act; and $5.8 billion for technology including electronic health record implementation.
Approved by both the House and the Senate, the bill now moves to the president’s desk.