As the House of Representatives Appropriation Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies prepares budgetary decisions for Fiscal Year 2018, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) testified before the panel to make Western New York priorities heard. The subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes funding for the arts, historic preservation and environmental protection.
(To access video click above or go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THKinDT-NMU#t=15m08s)
The Congressman, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force, credited the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with revival of the Buffalo River, saying in part, “Prior to the Clean Water/Clean Air Act of 1972, chemical, steel and grain industry essentially dumped their toxic poison into places like the Great Lakes and the Buffalo River. In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency declared that the Buffalo River was biologically dead and ecologically destroyed. It (GLRI) has resulted in unleashing the resources and creativity of the private sector which have invested a lot of money for restoration of habitat along the Buffalo River and also residential commercial mixed-use development in those corridors. So it’s really created a new economy in Buffalo and it’s a very important program.”
Higgins also pointed out how projects that use Historic Tax Credits are playing a critical role in the revitalization of local neighborhoods, “One hundred years ago Buffalo was the eighth largest economy in the entire nation and one of the strongest in the entire world. All of the great landscape and building architects came to Buffalo; consequently we had these beautiful buildings but because of economic decline over the last 20 years Buffalo took a major hit and a lot of those buildings were empty. Because of the Historic Tax Credit program, developers undertook the redevelopment of those buildings for commercial, mixed-use and residential development. Now we’re seeing Buffalo undergo a major economic renaissance.”
In longer, written testimony Congressman Higgins also pointed to programs through the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Heritage Areas, including the Niagara Falls and Erie Canalway Heritage Areas, for their role in both contributing to the region’s culture and quality of life as well as driving tourism and economic opportunity.
Congressman Higgins serves as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, responsible for developing the annual budget resolution, and the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy.