Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) hopes a proposed bill allocating $70 billion to teachers and first responders around the country will pass with presidential support, although a nearly identical piece of legislation did not gain enough support to even come to a vote in the Democratically led U.S. Senate last year.

“We believe this is an emergency and needed to help state and local governments,” Crowley said at a news conference across the street from the College Point Police Academy currently under construction.

He was joined by leaders from FDNY and NYPD unions as well as the United Federation of Teachers.

The bill would allocate $30 billion in funds for teacher salaries and $5 billion for police and fire funding per year. New York state would receive some $1.7 billion over two years, with the Big Apple raking in $1.2 billion of that money.

Crowley said the extra cash would be a shot in the arm to help reduce crime and class sizes all over America.

The piece of legislation is similar to another bill proposed in the Senate last year.

“We don’t control the House, so we believe the support has to be driven by the Senate,” Crowley said, adding that with the support of President Barack Obama he hopes the bill will pass.

But the Senate bill did not even make it to a vote, facing opposition from every Republican and two Democrats, who said they would not support the measure because it was being paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on the incomes of Americans who make $1 million or more.

This time around, the only differences between Crowley’s bill and the Senate bill is that the new proposal would allocate funds for two years instead of one and cost twice as much. Additionally, the money allocated to the first responders would be able to be used for a wider range of expenditures.

The Crowley bill does not yet have a plan to pay for the $70 billion, since Congress was not in session when he held the conference and plans to pay for expenditures are typically added later in the process.

The proposed bill is a part of Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act, which was broken up into smaller pieces like the Crowley legislation after efforts to pass it all at once were hampered by Senate Republicans who voted unanimously to oppose it.

Crowley insisted the deja vu bill was not specifically designed to create ammunition for the Democratic Party in an election year, although he added that if Republicans do not back it, voters will hear about it.

“The reality is some things are an emergency and need to be dealt with in this fashion,” he said. “If they don’t support it, we will use it against them.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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