N.Y.'s senators to work for $54 bn

Oct. 10, 2001 at 4:13 PM
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ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- New York's senators said Wednesday that the $54 billion requested by Gov. George Pataki from the federal government to help New York City recover from the terrorist attacks is a tall order. But they said they are committed to getting as much as possible.

"This is a very heavy lift, but working with the governor, the mayor and the congressional delegation, we will do everything humanly possible to get as much of this as we can," said Sen. Charles Schumer. "We have procured $20 billion of the $54 billion, but this list shows that New York needs and deserves significantly more."

Pataki wants $54 billion from the federal government for the Rebuild NY-Renew America drive -- an amount almost 70 percent of the state's annual budget of $80 billion.

"This was not only an attack on our freedoms and the American way of life, but an evil attempt to cripple the American economy by striking our nation's financial capital New York City," said the Republican New York governor.

The governor's Rebuild NY-Renew America plan, developed with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and with input from business, labor and elected officials, includes three key categories of federal assistance that would help New Yorkers: $34 billion for rescue, recovery, and rebuilding support; $20 billion for economic recovery and revitalization assistance; and $100 million for the staet's security efforts.

James Kallstrom, who led the FBI investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800, was named by Pataki on Wednesday to head a new state Office of Public Security as part of the state's $100 million security effort launched after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The governor's office said the terror attacks affected nearly 377,000 workers in New York -- a figure roughly equivalent to Atlanta's entire population -- and about 1,300 businesses.

Schumer and fellow Democratic New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are urging the federal Department of Labor to extend the deadline for New Yorkers to file for disaster unemployment assistance.

"As we approach the one-month anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, we write to ask that you extend the 30-day application deadline for workers unemployed as a direct result of the disaster who qualify for disaster unemployment assistance," Schumer and Clinton said in a letter to federal Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "We ask you to waive this deadline in order to accommodate the thousands of eligible individuals who are expected to apply for disaster unemployment assistance, but have not yet done so."

Under current regulations, workers have until this Thursday, Oct. 11, to apply for disaster unemployment assistance.

The New York State Department of Labor estimates that 35,000 people may be eligible. But as of last week, only a few thousand applications had been received. Disaster unemployment assistance is available to some workers who are not otherwise qualified to receive regular unemployment insurance under current law. Such workers include certain small-business owners, self-employed people and employees whose employers do not contribute to the unemployment insurance program.

New York City and New York state expect revenue losses of as much as $12 billion -- $3 billion for the city and $9 billion for the state -- during the next 18 months to two years. Giuliani pointed out that New York City gives $9 billion more to the federal government in taxes than it receives back so "it fair to get help from Washington."

Giuliani said he is asking city commissioners to cut their budgets by 15 percent except police and fire departments, which need to cut only 2.5 percent.

"You can find $1 billion in a $40 billion budget without affecting one single blessed thing," Giuliani said. "If you believe that, you can manage this city -- if you don't believe that, the city will go back to where it was in the early 1990s."

The mayor, in releasing an update on his financial plan, said the city had been in a very strong financial position before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and had a "budget stabilization fund" or surplus of more than $500 million. But the city has lost about $1 billion due to a decline in tourism and tax revenues, Giuliani said.

Two major border crossings from Canada to New York and Vermont were closed Wednesday because of a bomb threat to a business and a suspicious vehicle. A federal official said matter is under investigation and operations will resume as soon as possible at the Champlain, N.Y., and Highgate, Vt., crossings.

The Bank of America, which lost three employees in the World Trade Center attack, is donating three new fire trucks, worth $1 million in all, to the New York Fire Department in their memory. The three pumper trucks will help fill the gap of the 40 fire vehicles lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers.

The United Nations is expected to reopen its visitors center on Friday. It has been closed since the Sept. 11 attack.

Actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld said his top lineup of comedians at Carnegie Hall on Monday night raised $1,859,400 to benefit the Twin Towers Fund. The fund, created by Giuliani, has $78 million pledged. Tickets went for as much as $2,500 apiece, and performers included Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Colin Quinn, Will Ferrell and George Wallace.

The mayor also said:

-- 4,815 people have been declared missing by the police

-- 422 have been declared dead.

-- 370 bodies have been identified.

-- 4,430 have been listed as missing by relatives.

-- 1,369 have requested government assistance.

-- 1,382 death certificates have been requested.

-- 217,792 tons of material and rubble have been removed.

-- 40,918 truckloads of steel were removed.

-- 70 buildings have been damaged but are stable in need of repair and cleaning.

-- 12 buildings have been listed with major structural damage.

-- Bridge traffic into Manhattan has been down 12 percent to 75 percent.

(With reporting by William M. Reilly in New York)

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