New York Congressman Richard Hanna Talks About The Federal Budget, Student Loans, And Nanotech On WIBX
Congressman Richard Hanna joined WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning and recapped the relief efforts being made to address flood-related issues, the bipartisan camaraderie that is evident in the Mohawk Valley - and noticeably absent in Washington, the perceived promise of nanotech developments at SUNYIT, the federal budget, and the issue surrounding the interest rate for student loans being debated by Congress.
Hanna says Congress is "...getting our work done" this term. He says sometimes there is a great deal to handle on the fiscal front and says that is why he favors two-year budgets and re-authorizations. He says that in many ways, Congress "is still as dysfunctional as it looks."
He said that things are "definitely happening" in upstate New York and the region's future looks promising overall.
He says that Congress is "dominated by extremes," and that sometimes that hampers the process. He added that some view "compromise" as a dirty word and he said that without it one cannot really accomplish anything.
Potential nanotechnology and defense developments at Griffiss and SUNYIT are in the hands of the federal government and the military, Hanna says. Under consideration as well are sites in Watertown and Maine. The fact that the former Air Force base in Rome was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) site, along with Griffiss' commercial expansion in the aviation industry, will be taken into consideration. Hanna says despite these strengths the public will have to take a "wait and see" approach while the federal government determines which site will be chosen as a future missile defense interceptor site.
Hanna spoke about the importance of "opening the path up" on the federal level to make way for entities like Mohawk Valley EDGE to procure more businesses, especially in the nanotech sector. Specifically with regard to the recent proposal to develop a pad on which to build a nanotechnology business, Hanna says he has pushed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adjust their regulations in a way that benefits both business and the environment. Such a relationship, the congressman implies, is not mutually exclusive. He says the Corps does not "...feel compelled to recognize the fact that a place like upstate New York is suffering in so many ways economically and this could be a boon to an entire region...That doesn't hit their radar."
A local Congressman is fighting for the interests of the future of nanotech in the Mohawk Valley, saying the environmental impact would be minimal.
Hanna recognizes the political acumen of Governor Cuomo with regard to his rebound following the passage of the NY SAFE Act, legislation that many believe literally shot holes in the Governor's popularity, but says he is not going to question Cuomo's motivations in bringing more attention to the Mohawk Valley. Whether it is in the form of flood relief that was noticeably denied by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or assistance with economic development, Hanna says he'll "take it." The needs of the region transcend party politics.
Hanna said he believes that real progress is beling made on the issue of student loan interest rates. He said the solution being discussed is indeed a more long-term solution to the issue of rising student loan interest rates, and it is his belief that this subject will not take up the time in the next legislative session or for many years to come once it is resolved. He cautioned, however, that the public also has to be more responsible when it comes to borrowing, especially when applying for loans, and there has to be a balance. The results of irresponsible borrowing could, he says, be tragic.
For the full interview click the audio links below: