Creating more jobs and alleviating the burden on taxpayers is the job state Sen. Catharine Young plans to continue in her next term.
On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, Sen. Young will be running unopposed on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. She was first elected to the 57th District, which covers Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and southern parts of Livingston County, during a special election in 2005. She then won re-election in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Last month, Sen. Young received high ratings from two business groups for her record to improve the economic climate and support taxpayers. She received a 90 percent rating from The Business Council, the highest awarded in the state Senate. She also was near the top, receiving 88 percent, from Unshackle Upstate. Both the Business Council and Unshackle Upstate measured state legislators based on their voting records on a variety of bills and the budget. Points were awarded for votes on bills that would help businesses and taxpayers. Unshackle Upstate also awarded points for sponsorship of positive bills and subtracted points for sponsorship of harmful bills.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, is pictured speaking on behalf of NRG?Energy in Dunkirk.
The senator also was selected as one of NFIB-New York's 2012 Guardians of Small Business. The award was given to recognize Sen. Young's voting record and support for small business issues during the legislative session.
She was ranked among the top legislators in the state by NFIB on the agency's Voting Record, a tool that rates legislators based upon their votes on top legislative issues for small businesses. The Voting Record examined seven bills which dealt with issues including the tax assessment process, pension reform and the tax cap.
For Election Day, The Post-Journal asked Sen. Young three questions on her work in the state Senate.
Q: Why do you want to continue your work as a state Senator?
A: We are making great strides in turning the state around by prioritizing job and economic growth, tax relief and mandate and welfare reform. My Senate majority has stopped the suffocating, out-of-control tax hikes and irresponsible spending binge that occurred when we lost the majority in 2009 and 2010. During that time, our state lost 257,000 private sector jobs the downstate lawmakers' $14 billion in new taxes and spending that I voted against stifled our economy and busted family budgets.
Now that we are back in charge, my Senate majority has worked with Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo to pass major reforms that will help put people back to work, grow small businesses and manufacturing jobs, reduce the cost of government and make it more affordable to live, work and do business in the state. We are working hard to repair the economic damage and grow more jobs.
I want to continue my work as state Senator to build on the progress that we have made, so that we have a thriving economy. We need good-paying jobs for our families and career opportunities for our young people so they can stay after they graduate. By putting in place the right policies, we can restore hope, opportunity and prosperity.
Q: What issue or issues have you been working on that you will continue to work on in your next term?
A: We need to make New York state competitive so more jobs can be created here. Alleviating the heavy burden on our hardworking taxpayers is at the top of my list.
The disastrous national economy certainly has hurt our state, causing $13 billion in budget gaps over the past two state budgets. By working together, we were able to pass two on-time, balanced budgets that reduced overall government spending and closed those budget gaps without raising taxes and fees on our hardworking middle-class families and our seniors on fixed incomes.
Over the past two years, we enacted the middle-class tax cut that reduced income tax rates to the lowest level in 58 years, put in place the historic property tax cap that already has produced major savings for homeowners, implemented billions of dollars of new mandate relief to help put the brakes on skyrocketing local property taxes, and eliminated the sales taxes on many of the clothing purchases to help family budgets.
We also reduced taxes on many small businesses and manufacturers so we can retain and create more jobs.
My Senate majority passed a comprehensive job creation package of bills that will put more people back to work. Assemblyman Andrew Goodell strongly supports these initiatives, but Speaker Sheldon Silver is blocking their passage in the Assembly. I will continue to work to get these common-sense, pro-growth policies put in place, and I appreciate Assemblyman Goodell's leadership in championing the cause of economic revitalization.
The NRG project is crucial to Dunkirk and the entire region's future, and I am leading the charge to repower the plant. This initiative would save the local tax base, put 500 people to work for three years while building the new plant, reduce emissions up to 99 percent, maintain electricity system reliability for Western New York and complement renewable development. Right now, I am spearheading a petition drive to try to convince Gov. Cuomo to support our efforts, and the community outpouring of support is amazing and truly appreciated.
Strengthening our agriculture industry is another priority. We restored agriculture funding in the state budget after it was decimated by downstate lawmakers, and we are putting in place initiatives to grow the wine and grape, dairy and other agricultural-related industries.
As chair of the bi-partisan Rural Resources Commission, we are putting forward policies that improve access to quality health care. We are working to solve the health care professional shortage, especially with doctors and dentists, and we are implementing initiatives through Telehealth that allow seniors to have a better quality of care and life by staying in their homes longer, while saving taxpayer money. It is a win-win.
Q: What issue or issues do you want to focus on in your next term that you might not have started dealing with yet?
A: The cap that we successfully placed on Medicaid growth will save local governments $1.17 billion over the next five years. I sponsor a bill that would have the state gradually take over the local share of Medicaid that pays for our residents' health care needs, so that we can continue to help area taxpayers. There are many other mandate relief items that must be passed so we can reduce the size of the mammoth government in our state.
A tax abatement that provides incentives for private sector investment in our downtowns is another economic development tool that I was able to negotiate into the state budget. Unfortunately, many downtowns across Upstate have seen better days, becoming blighted and falling into disrepair. We have seen great success in using tax abatements to restore beautiful historic buildings and grow small businesses in downtowns in Livingston County. I am working to spread the word about this new incentive so that more communities can take advantage of the economic revitalization that results from this law.
My focus on turning the state around through more jobs and economic opportunities, tax relief and welfare and Medicaid reform will continue in my next term.