Constituent Services
At House Committee on the Budget, Higgins Testifies on Buffalo Courthouse Funding
February 14, 2007
Cites Thousands of New WNY Jobs Which Would Result from Construction
 
Washington, DC—Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) testified in front of the House Committee on the Budget regarding funding for the Buffalo courthouse in the Fiscal Year 2008 federal budget.  Higgins encouraged the Committee on the Budget to include $46.7 million in funding for the Buffalo Courthouse in the House Budget Resolution, as proposed in President Bush’s FY 2008 budget request.
 
“The huge number of jobs that will be generated from this $130 million construction project combined with the hundreds of permanent employees who will occupy this space, should be reason enough to include this funding in the FY 2008 budget,” said Higgins.  “Buffalo is number one on the new federal courthouse priority list and it is essential that we get the funding we need.”
 
Higgins’ testimony as submitted to the record is attached:
 
“The Buffalo Courthouse is the top project on the Judicial Conference’s priority list, and was the only federal courthouse construction project requested in the Administration’s FY 2008 budget.  The Administration has requested $46.7 million for this project which, coupled with funds we made available for courthouse construction in the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution, will enable the General Services Administration (GSA) to move on this critical construction project in Buffalo’s downtown core. 
 
“The existing Michael Dillon U.S. Courthouse is no longer adequate and has major security concerns.  The judges’ chambers are directly across the street from a parking garage with a clear view into the chambers, making them vulnerable to attack.  Prisoners are unloaded on the street and are brought to courtrooms by the same elevators used by the public, judges and court personnel.  These elevators are antiquated and accidents have happened when they failed to align properly with the floors.  Several of the courtrooms had to be fashioned from office space and are therefore undersized, with view-obstructing columns.  It is time that the court has a facility that will function efficiently and provide the necessary security for all who use and work in the courthouse. 
 
“GSA received $14.2 million for acquisition of land and design of the Buffalo Courthouse from 2000 through 2002.  It has acquired property on Niagara Square, an important commercial area in downtown Buffalo.  The design has won award and acclaim, and demolition will commence this year.  But unless Congress provides the funding necessary to allow construction to proceed, the net impact of the federal government’s actions on this project will be to displace small businesses from the site, to remove this real estate from the local tax rolls, and to leave a vacant lot on an important piece of real estate in a vital section of our struggling downtown core. 
 
“These are economic and tax impacts which our region, with a struggling economy and local governments mired in fiscal straits, can not and should not be made to bear.  Buffalo simply can not afford to delay this opportunity to turn a vacant lot into a tower of jobs that will complement the nascent investment and revitalization we are experiencing in other parts of the city. 
 
“Because the Judicial Conference has ranked the Buffalo Courthouse as its top construction priority nationwide, and because allowing this federally-acquired land to remain fallow would be destructive to our community, I strongly encourage the Budget Committee to include the $46.7 million that will allow GSA to complete this important project.”
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