BASILE PROPOSES SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN STATE AID TO FIX CRUMBLING AREA ROADS
NEW WINDSOR, NY – Stating that local governments need a true partner in state government to help fix our local infrastructure, New York State Senate candidate Tom Basile has announced that he will sponsor legislation in the Senate next year to require more funds generated through the existing state gas tax to be allocated for substantial investments in town, county and village road improvements.
“We’re paying all these taxes, but our roads are crumbling,” said Basile, who is running to succeed long-serving Senator Bill Larkin. “A cracked, pothole-riddled road is a constant reminder to taxpayers that they’re not getting value for their dollar here. As I’ve gone door to door during this campaign, I’ve heard it time and time again- pave the roads. As a local elected official, I know how hard it is to afford basic needs like paving. Yes, we need to rebuild our airports and bridges, but we need to think and act locally to protect both property taxpayers and local economies."
Presently counties, towns and villages receive funding from the state for infrastructure as part of the roughly $440 million Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). Despite a more than $50 billion increase in overall state spending in the last decade, CHIPS aid to local governments hasn’t kept pace with the need for resources and increases in costs. As a result, today’s funding levels are inadequate to meet the needs of local governments.
Basile’s proposal would more than double the size of the CHIPS program to $1 billion using existing funds that are supposed to be used for transportation projects but are raided by the state for other purposes.
“It is typical of our state’s waste and dysfunction that we spend nearly as much money on tax credits for Hollywood studios than we do to help local governments pave roads,” said Basile. “Our streets are crumbling in our business districts, our neighborhoods, and major arteries yet we’re not getting more resources. When local governments can’t afford paving and other road infrastructure projects, problems get worse, and ultimately property taxpayers are on the hook for higher costs. Seriously expanding the CHIPS program is long overdue."
Estimates project that local roads would need at least $1 billion annually to keep pace with repairs. Basile proposes paying for the increase by requiring the state to dedicate more funds generated through the existing gas tax to the CHIPS program, instead of diverting that money to the State’s bloated General Fund, as is currently done. The legislation would also use the federal model of using cash for capital improvements rather than borrowing money to fund the program.
“Half of the lane miles driven in this state are on local roads, yet local municipalities get only a small fraction of more than $4 billion in revenue from the gas tax that should be going to infrastructure projects. In fact, only half of the gas tax revenue actually goes toward transportation capital projects at all. It’s nonsensical. Our counties, towns and villages need help to fix infrastructure now,” said Basile who has earned the backing of Larkin and the nominations of the Republican, Conservative and Independence Parties.
Basile reiterated that the new funding will boost the local economy and create jobs. He also believes the funding should be tied to local labor requirements to ensure economic benefits are focused on our area.
“Our highway superintendents do a great job of trying to do more with less. But given the billions of dollars paid by taxpayers each year through the gas tax and other fees, they shouldn’t have to borrow or beg to repair local infrastructure. Maintaining local roads, bridges and other infrastructure will help maintain property values and revitalize business districts.”
Basile also blasted the state’s $100 million PAVE-NY program which didn’t use the CHIPS allocation formula so New York City could grab a larger share of the money. That resulted in Orange County towns and villages losing nearly $200,000 in additional aid.
Basile noted that his opponent James Skoufis, who serves on the Assembly Transportation Committee, has voted against legislation that would have provided towns with greater flexibility for use of state highway aid (A.3686-2016) and legislation that would have increased consolidated local highway assistance payments for areas outside of New York City (A.9435a-2016).
“Mr. Skoufis has been in the Assembly for six years and despite his claims, has allowed New York City to gain at the expense of our local community roadways. He’s voted against our interests and repeatedly failed to promote reforms that would help address these shortfalls.”
Statewide advocates and local highway officials in Orange, Rockland and Ulster Counties praised the plan, calling it common sense and long overdue.
Mike Elmendorf, President & CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State, New York’s leading statewide construction industry organization said, “We commend Tom Basile for his common-sense proposal to add much needed additional resources for the repair and rebuilding of our crumbling local roads. New York faces a daunting infrastructure crisis, with 60% of our roads and 6,000 of bridges in need of repair. Even as additional investments have been made in recent years, they still fall far short of meeting our growing needs—a fact that is painfully evident to New York motorists as they dodge potholes all across New York. Our economy and communities can’t thrive if their infrastructure is failing. Let’s put people to work rebuilding New York.”
Town of Monroe Highway Superintendent John Scherne said, “Increasing the CHIPS funding for the Town of Monroe will greatly benefit not only my highway department but the taxpayers as well. I, as Superintendent of Highways, rely on these funds to add to my permanent road improvement project and extra money will allow the town the possibility of paving additional roads per year. That would be a great benefit for our towns in general.”
“Tom's plan to inject more money into the CHIPS program would be a boost for the Town of Blooming Grove. Taxpayers can't keep pace with the rising cost of labor and materials. Having a dedicated and substantial reoccurring increase in aid from the state without adding to the local tax burden will mean better roads and greater economic opportunity locally," said Town of Blooming Grove Supervisor Rob Jeroloman.
"CHIPS funding is an integral part of planning for our department each year. Adding more money would allow us to complete more projects and provide more reliable roads for residents without adding a huge burden to the local tax base. I applaud Tom Basile's plan. We will be lucky to have such an advocate for our local roads and bridges fighting for us in Albany," said Town of Stony Point Highway Superintendent Larry Brissing.
Town of Plattekill Highway Superintendent Robert Wager said, “CHIPS funding is an important lifeline to most municipalities. The cost of equipment and materials and healthcare have increased at a rate that the local tax revenue cannot keep up with. Highway departments have to make tough choices when choosing which roads to pave or equipment to replace. As a department head I would welcome an increase with a permanent source of funding. Any increase of permanent funding to municipalities is a great way to invest in New York's economy as well as the infrastructure. Investing if highway work creates jobs in the private workforce many of which are our residents of New York. Thank you for supporting a safer highway system.”