Seems like a good idea to us.
New York City held its annual Labor Day Parade on Saturday, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used the occasion to announce he will advance legislation to make the New York Buy American Act permanent.
Originally passed in December 2017, the act requires all state-funded road and bridge projects worth more than $1 million to use iron and steel made in the United States. It is set to expire in April 2020, but Cuomo told the crowd that he is making the issue a top priority for next year’s budget session.
“What Buy America has shown, and what Buy America says, is the steel that we buy, the concrete that we buy, the iron we buy, must be American-made,” Cuomo said. “That does two things. No. 1, it protects American jobs and it grows New York jobs — manufacturing is now 5 percent of the New York economy — and it makes sure we have the best quality steel and concrete and iron going into our infrastructure projects.”
Since going into effect, the law has assured that several of the state’s largest infrastructure projects have used American-made iron and steel. This includes 110,000 tons of steel for the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge — also known as the new Tappan Zee Bridge — along with 6,580 tons of steel for the first two phases of the Kosciuszko Bridge and 11,500 tons of steel for the Kew Gardens Interchange.
Using high-quality, safer steel made by workers here in the United States instead of lower-quality imports not only helps create and sustain thousands of union jobs, it assures the structures will last long into the future.
“We are building more than any state in the United States in America. No state is building what we are building here, over $250 billion in infrastructure, and we want to make sure that these projects last 100 years,” Cuomo said. “To do that, you have to know that steel, that concrete, that iron is top-quality material. And you only know that if that is made right here in the good ol’ USA, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Mario Cliento, the president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said that making Buy America permanent will not only be good for American manufacturers and workers, but provide a boost to the local tax base and economy.
“When we create jobs that otherwise would not exist, those working men and women now pay income tax on their earnings,” Cliento said. “That money goes right back into the local tax base that allows us to pay for our public services that we rely on… and then when you have a job that you otherwise would not have, you obviously put that money right back into the local economy, to the local barbershop, the hardware store, maybe take your family to dinner and a movie. So, our small business community wins as well.”
Cliento praised Cuomo for his leadership on the issue — and although the labor leader didn’t name names, he criticized another politician who has talked up Buy America in the past.
“We have a lot of elected officials in this country, a lot of them, most of them, in Washington, who say a lot of things, and they have a lot of pithy comments and they’ll talk about ‘Make America Great Again,’ ‘America First.’ Those are words. That is not leadership. Leadership is done through deed and by action,” he said.
Specifically, the current Buy American law requires the use of domestic iron and domestically melted and poured steel for all construction reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance or improvement of any surface road and bridge projects over $1 million. It also requires the use of domestic iron and domestically melted and poured steel for all contracts over $1 million awarded by the Dormitory Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Bridge Authority or the Thruway Authority.
By making the law permanent, New York will build on the state's commitment to investing in New York's infrastructure and its workforce.
“We can protect workers, advance workers and grow the economy,” Cuomo said.