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Hochul, Brown Offer Rebuttal To GOP Criticisms Of Buffalo Billion

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, right, chats with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul inside the Northland Workforce Training Center, under construction and scheduled to be completed in August. The approximately $65 million center is part of a larger $100 million state investment in Buffalo's Northland Corridor, one of several investments using dollars from the Buffalo Billion.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul offered a response to Republicans who, earlier this week, took aim at the Buffalo Billion during an appearance by gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro.

Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive who on April 2 formally launched his big for governor, appeared in Buffalo two days later and, along with local Republican elected officials and party leadership, called Governor Cuomo's ambitious and expensive investment plan for Western New York as a corrupt pay-to-play scheme. Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy suggested it was Cuomo's way to buy the affections of voters after a poor local showing in the 2010 election.

"I don't know where Nick Langworthy has lived for the last seven years," Hochul said when asked about that suggestion. "Certainly the negativity espoused by Marc Molinaro is exactly what has held back upstate communities like Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester for decades."

Hochul offered her remarks while standing inside the Northland Workforce Training Center, which promoters say will offer hundreds of local residents a place to develop advanced manufacturing skills. The center remains under construction and is on schedule for completion in August. The $65 million project is one of the many investments involving dollars from the Buffalo Billion.

Republicans argued earlier in the week that the development Buffalo has seen in recent years is more the result of other funding sources, such as from the New York Power Authority Relicensing Agreement, and the efforts the result of other leaders. Assemblyman Ray Walter even credited Congressman Higgins, a Democrat, as a more influential player on the city's waterfront redevelopment.

Mayor Byron Brown, though, also came to the defense of the Buffalo Billion, pointing to examples of where those investments are working in neighborhoods neglected for decades.

"The Buffalo Billion has been transformational in this community," he said. "Not only large projects like the Northland Corridor, which is $100 million-plus of investment, but in neighborhood projects, projects along our transit areas in the City of Buffalo."

The lieutenant governor, a Buffalo native, says Cuomo was committed to boosting Western New York since he first took office.

"The last thing we need are more negative individuals coming in from out of town, pointing their fingers and saying it's not good enough," Hochul said.

"The Buffalo Billion, as large as it is, was the catalyst for the re-emergence of an economy that was lying fallow for 40, 50 years."