Read the Q & A from the Congressman’s visit to Belmont
Pictured: Legislators Gary Barnes and Steve Havey of District IV listen to the Congressman
By Andrew Harris
After Congressman Nick Langworthy finished a solid half hour of policy discussion and frank commentary on his early days in office, and then took questions for almost an hour. The room was full of elected officials, top appointed officials, and former elected officials. “Joe Public” was missing, so was the Wellsville Sun, and only 137 people watched on the Facebook livestream.
Here is the synopsis of the roundtable back and forth for the record, these are a direct quotes from those who asked the questions and a summary of the Congressman’s reply:
Legislator Gretchen Hanchett, District III
“There is no one size fits all for economic development strategies for rural areas. How can local leaders, including government, individuals, businesses put rural regions on tract to thrive and will there be incentives to drive businesses to rural regions?”
Congressman: This is the classic challenge to this region for a long time. We have a brain-drain and our investments in higher education are headed to other states, some without a state income tax. NYS is not taking advantage of the cheap energy resources that we have readily available in the ground, aka safe, cheap, natural gas. Ohio and Pennsylvania rural economies have been transformed by this resource and Langworthy has asked Governor Hochul to re-evaluate her energy policies. Many of those policies, like the proposed ban on gas stoves, will only drive people away. Langworthy suggested a focus on rural broadband, as cell service and high speed internet are major considerations for future businesses.
Legislator Phil Stockin, District I and former county Chairman:
“NY’rs have a herd of elephants in the room and one of them that has been mentioned alot is the whole Medicaid payment issue right now. We are all familiar with what the Governor has put out in her budget and her intent to keep all that money that is supposed to be coming to us. My question is from the federal level, we were very very happy when the American Rescue Plan money came directly from the federal government, not bypassed through New York State. Is there anything that they can do about that? Second, what can NY delegates in Congress do to change this around ? Because This is a game-changer for all of us with property taxes…..”
Congressman: The bean counters in Albany don’t understand how this impacts the tax base. Langworthy and other collegues have written a letter to Governor Hochul explaining that this money was intended to impact counties directly and to “please cease and desist.” Hochul didn’t respond, yet. The lack of media coverage on the subject is upsetting and the issue needs to come back to how it impacts the taxpayer. This can’t be accepted and we must keep the pressure on the NY Governor until this is resolved.
Legislator Gary Barnes, District IV
One thing that I object to is earmarks. Before they eliminated that, there were some that were absolutely ridiculous. I can only support the continuation or resurrection of earmarks if there is a way to keep the ridiculous ones set aside.
Congressman: Just a heads up, Nancy Pelosi brought back earmarks. If Langworthy doesn’t get to go put our stamp for this district via earmark; do you think someone from Washington D.C is going to consider the 23rd Congressional district? These will be heavily scrutinized and must be germaine to the bill being passed. Critical infrastructure, water projects, sewer projects and things that we can do to grow the economy and ease taxes are the directly Langworthy wants to focus on. The waste is dangerous, but you don’t want to turn over these decisions to appointed bureaucrats.
Bob Jones, Town of Angelica Supervisor
I’m here for money. In the town of Angelica we have a big water project, we have limited resources, it will be from 4-4.5 million dollars, the engineers have it now and we need money.
Congressman: We will be happy to sit down with your team and see how we can help. I’d love to come out and see some of your issues
Jones: As far as the Chinese are concerned, I do not understand why the US government allows the Chinese government to buy up the amount of farmland, buildings, and industries in this country ?
Congressman: Langworthy has been working with on this a Wyoming US Representative on this. The legislation really is most effective on a state level. The Virginia and South Dakota are good examples of how states can counter this. Food security is national security and we are paying farmers not to grow, and that has to stop. Selling farmland to China is a, “economic deathwish.” Governors should be acting.
The Congressman went on to rail against the “green new deal” and the over reach by Albany relative to wind and solar installations. Langworthy emphasized the need for local control and a reverence for farmland. He warned that the wind and solar companies are taking advantage of disadvantaged, post-agriculture communities with no accountablity for cleanup.
Legislator Gary Barnes, Legislator District IV: “I never run out of questions”
The southern border issue really bugs me. The Governor of Texas is come to the point that he is busing “them,” all over. What will be do when “they” arrive in Allegany County?
Congressmen: Elections have consequences and these polices have consequences. Current federal policy is a total failure and Langworthy plans to visit the border soon. He stressed this is a common sense issue, not a partisan issue. The rule of law, or lackthereof, has consequences on the border and locally in a reference to bail reform.
Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler
Have you considered, or will you consider, expanding the definition of “infrastructure”, or what I would call “lifestyle infrastructure,” specifically something that we face in Wellsville and many villages in the northeast, and that is blight. Homes that are in disrepair, homes that are abandoned, that type of thing. We find plenty of grant money for rehab and construction, but nobody has money for demolision. My question to you is can we get something done with that type of infrastructure ?”
Congressman: We can help out municipalities through the competitive grant process but this was a “question that I’ve never been asked.” Langworthy believes that it makes sense to clear out blight and make the properties more valuable. He promised to get more information on the subject. “You have a beautiful downtown.”
*Shayler went on to invite the Congressman to the upcoming “World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade” to be held on Main Street Wellsville this March 17th. Langworthy replied, “That’s enticing.”
Allegany County Chairman W. Brooke Harris
Paraphrased: The costs and labor required to manage federal funding opportunities is overwhelming to small counties. What we need is direct federal funding to the county, not passed through New York State, and we need a streamlined grant application process. What are your thoughts ?
Congressman: Langworthy was a Congressional staffer and has dealt with these issues. “Chasing the money,” is a challenge but if you find it cumbersome, Langworthy sits on the Oversight Committee and can help. Hiring a consultant to help guide local government through the federal funding process may also be beneficial and may “pay for itself over time.”
Chairman W. Brooke Harris replied,
“I’ll say that I dont think that a township or a village should have to hire a consultant to navigate the federal funding process. If that is the case, it is probably a broken process.”
Congressman: Our office will be an asset and work hard with anyone who needs our help working with the federal government.
Legislator John Ricci, District 3
“I met a farmer this week, probably the largest farmer in our county, about 2000 cows, and he needs three phase electric so he can reduce his carbon footprint, which should make Albany happy. He needs to do a methane process so is there anything out there to help this guy ?”
Congressman: Hopefully the utility company will step up and provide this service because a federal earmark for one project is unlikely. The grid needs to be improved to be able to handle the agenda of the state and federal government: electric everything. “Right now the grid couldn’t handle that on it’s best day.” All levels of government should stop treating farms like ‘mom and pop shops.’
“This is all to satisfy a political agenda”
“They have created their own religion off this”
“I’m all for making more efficiencies, battery technology, make our water and air safer. But we are going to hamstring our economy for this?”
Legislator Gary Barnes District IV
In the last couple of days the President has been over in Poland and he offered to help Poland build a cuplde new nuclear plants. But he doesn’t help anyone in the United States build a nuclear plant…. I think we should be pushing nuclear, especially with the new designs and safety features.
Congressman: Safe nuclear has to be at the table. It has to be an “all of the above strategy.” Nuclear can solve some real problems but the realities of dealing with New York and the DEC make this seem very unrealistic. If they won’t let us drill for natural gas, would they seriously make nuclear power plants happen ? Langworthy expects many years of energy debate and has an “eye on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the future. “Nuclear has got to be part of that discussion.”
The meeting wrapped up with laughs and random commentary between legislators and the Congressman. Here is a sampling:
Angelica Supervisor Bob Jones: Mr. Congressman I think I heard you use the phrase, “common sense?”
Congressman: “Does that prohibit me from public service?”
Legislator Gretchen Hanchett asked a final question about the resurrection of the EDA, the Economic Development Agency at a federal level. Langworthy, quite new on the job wasn’t fully aware of the subject but agreed that his office would be a strong partner in economic development.
Legislator Dwight Healy revealed that “economic development would cure many of our ails automatically,” and asked how the Congressman could help with infrastructure at the Crossroads area.
Langworthy reminded the room that the uphill battle for economic development in New York State is largely due to the massive Albany bureaucracy and urged a ‘squeeky wheel’ approach. Local leaders have to constantly push state leaders to help remove the many barriers to entry in the state. County, town, and village governments must take the initiative and bring ideas, concerns, and opportunities to the table and fight for them.
Having gone a few minutes over the schedule for the meeting, Chairman Harris offered thanks for visiting the chambers and talking face to face with the legislature. He hoped it would continue in the future and Langworthy agreed to keep in close contact.
Congressman: “Our door is always open”
You can watch the entire visit on the Allegany County Facebook page livestream archive site.