Updated 08/31/2011 07:05 PM
Storm damage sparks spending argument
They're continuing to tally up the losses from the passage of Hurricane Irene, which traveled along the eastern seaboard and cut a path through Upstate New York and New England. As the damage numbers grow, the stage could be set for another political battle over government spending. YNN's Bill Carey explains.
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NEW YORK STATE FAIR -- It has been clear since the weekend that Irene did serious damage in Upstate New York. Now, the Governor is ready to put a price tag on that damage. The figure? At least a billion dollars.
"Over 600 homes destroyed, six towns inundated, 150 major highways have been damaged, 22 state bridges closed. In the area of agriculture, over $45 million in damage, 140,000 acres and still climbing," Cuomo said.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who sandwiched in a visit to the State Fair between stops in flood ravaged areas, says it is a disaster that has hit hard in farm country.
"You see all of their produce just floating downstream. So these men and women who work every year, all year long, to have their crops to be picked, really, very shortly, be totally lost is a very, very depressing and sad story," Gillibrand said.
There is a growing concern within the states hard hit by Irene that the new politics of Washington could leave them high and dry when it comes time to ease the financial burden of the clean up. Already, some House republicans are pegging federal disaster aid to reciprocal spending cuts.
"We've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.
Senator Gillibrand calls the comments by Eric Cantor "irresponsible." She says the House leader lacks judgment. She says those disaster relief monies cannot be held hostage during another standoff over federal budget cuts.
"He's out of touch. I don't think he's actually come to see any of the disaster sites and he should do that well before he starts making pronouncements that, really, are going to hurt America and hurt America's recovery," Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand says it's time for Cantor and other critics to board a plane and travel to the Northeast to view firsthand the devastation. She says the trip might change their minds.