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Our view: Infrastructure should be a 'yes' vote for Katko

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U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer talks about the federal infrastructure plan during a stop in Auburn Sept. 1.

An infrastructure bill poised for a vote in Congress is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some badly needed construction projects in America, but the people will not be served if their representatives fail to support it.

The plan targets roads, bridges, water systems and electrical grids, among other things. It passed the Senate 69-30, but the House remains split. Some Democrats are pushing for an agreement on a separate spending package focused on Medicare, child care, and other social issues, leaving some Republicans reluctant to voice their support for infrastructure spending even on its own merits.

This bill, however, was passed by a large number of Republicans in the Senate, so nobody can say it's a partisan bill. It is the result of compromises being made on both sides — an example of how things are supposed to work in Washington. There is no valid reason to vote against it for any lawmaker who claims to be focused on getting things done instead of political games.

New York state would receive $11.5 billion in highway funding, nearly $2 billion for bridge repairs and $142 million for electric vehicle charging stations. Of the $937 million for airports, Syracuse Hancock International Airport would get $27 million and Ithaca Tompkins International Airport would get $7 million. There is also $688 million for the replacement of Amtrak railcars in upstate New York.

The bill also supports Centro bus services, which have been scaled back in Auburn and Cayuga County since the economic downturn and staffing issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Of particular interest to Cayuga County would be the money set aside for expanding broadband access. About 6,500 homes and businesses in the county currently lack broadband service, and local leaders say that's a real detriment to companies thinking about opening up shop here.

The Business Council of New York State on Wednesday said passage of the bill would be "a win for everyone; taxpayers, businesses, and the economy."

We see the vote as a no-brainer. It will have great benefits for Central New York and Cayuga County, and we urge Rep. John Katko to support it.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.


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