U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul visited the Livingston County area this past week and took tours of local businesses and visited community outreach centers.
“Livingston County is a very important part of my current and future district; I try and spend as much time there as I can,” said Hochul in a phone interview. “Having been the mother of a Geneseo student, I certainly know the Geneseo community very well.”
“We visited the Coyne farm in [Avon, N.Y.] which was really fascinating,” said Hochul. “I got a chance to visit the farmers and talk about my farm agenda and agriculture.”
Hochul noted the 125-year-old farm as a great feature of the county. She also discussed Recreation Therapy Solutions’ vermicomposting process, which Hochul said uses earthworms in an “all-organic system to produce premium soil fertility products.”
“We toured the largest operating salt mine in the United States, American Rock Salt,” said Hochul. “I’ve driven by countless times, and it was fascinating to be able to drop by and speak to the managers as well as take the trip underground to see where people work and produce the salt.”
Hochul said the plants add value to the community, bringing over 200 jobs to Livingston County and providing quality service to 12 states in the Northeast.
Additionally, Hochul said she visited the Zion House in Avon, which is one of the first centers in the U.S. and the first in New York to provide community services to assist with the transitional needs of female veterans.
Hochul also said that she had a chance to speak with President Christopher Dahl with whom she discussed current education policies and her strong opposition to higher education budget cuts.
“Money that’s available now for research and development for universities and colleges very often doesn’t result in just research, but jobs,” she said. “I don’t want to stifle that economic catalyst; we really need to keep our colleges and universities strong.”
In January, Hochul co-sponsored HR 3826, a bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the reduced interest rates for Federal Direct Stafford Loans. The bill would prevent the increase in student loan rates from 3.4 to 6.8 percent and is set to take place July 1.
“The budgets that were passed by the House of Representatives had major cuts in programs that support education and in this time of high education costs, young people need every advantage they can get,” said Hochul. “Not everyone can get to college on a scholarship and families are struggling to pay for student loans and it’s really a challenge.”
“[I’m against] any such plan that cuts programs that are critical to colleges…even programs that give kids an advantage in life, like the Head Start program,” said Hochul. “If we want to be educating work forces that can compete in the global market place, we cannot be shortchanging our young people.”