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Senate Candidates Debates State’s Business Climate

George Borrello

Editor’s Note: This is the third of a four-part series featuring the two 57th State Senate District special election candidates — George Borrello and Austin Morgan.

New York traditional ranks poorly in studies on its business and tax climate.

So what can the new representative in the 57th State Senate District do about it?

That is the questions that was posed to both candidates George Borrello, Republican, Conservative, Independence and Libertarian parties endorsed candidate and Chautauqua County executive, and Austin Morgan, Democratic and Working Families parties endorsed candidate and Cornell University graduate, running in the special election during a debate at The Post-Journal earlier this month. The question was, “What should the state Legislature do to improve those rankings, and how would you as a new member of the state Senate advance that agenda.”

Borrello started the discussion by stating that unfunded state mandates need to be eliminated. He said 50 cents of every tax dollar in the county, which equals $6,000 a week, goes toward the county’s state Medicaid payment.

“In 2010, the state changed the rules to eliminate face-to-face interviews. How can you prove fraud if you can’t prove someone exist,” he said. “What we’ve seen in Albany, with the one-party rule, is an increase in mandates.”

Borrello also discussed his experience as a small business owner in Silver Creek and being Chautauqua County executive. He said, if elected, only one other member of the state Senate was a former county executive. He added he will have a distinctive perspective on the business climate in the state being a former county executive and small business owner.

“I’m the only person in the senate that will have that unique experience,” he said.

Morgan said the Democratic-controlled state Legislature did pass reforms this year to help small businesses. Examples include establishing a small business crime prevention program and approval of a compliance system that will allow small businesses to understand the laws and won’t be fined for the first offense.

“We need to not only make New York state more business friendly, we need a long-term vision for the economy,” he said. “We have to put Main Street ahead of Wall Street. We need to invest in startups instead of giving tax breaks to big businesses.”

Morgan said he would propose a program called “trade-up” to train the district’s future workforce to keep them in the state instead of having them leave to find a job.

“What it would do is it would incentivize businesses to train people, our young people,” he said. “Trade jobs are here. They’re good paying jobs. They’re union jobs. If we do that, keep students local, we can build a sustainable workforce for the future.”

Borrello said as his opponent talks about building a strong workforce, he did the leg work during his first few months in office as Chautauqua County executive when he visited 107 business in 100 days.

“What I heard was we need more workforce training. In a short period of time, we’ve done that. It’s about taking action, not just talking,” he said. “(Jamestown Community College) has made a change to be more focused on enhancing its (Manufacturing Technology Institute). Scholarships were given to 28 students and now JCC has a vice president of workforce development. We will start to deliver (the workforce) to manufacturers here. All the politicians were saying, ‘There are no jobs here. There are no jobs here.’ There are jobs here and I was integral in changing the conversation.”

Borrello said as state senator he would propose a first employee tax credit for small businesses. He said this proposal would assist small businesses in adding personnel when first starting. He added because of the high cost for workers compensation insurance and payroll taxes, it’s difficult for start-up businesses to hire there first employee.

“The first employee tax credit would give temporary relief to reduce the burden so people can bring on their first employee,” he said. “This idea comes from my experience as a business person.”

Morgan discussed some personal stories about small business owners and farmers in his family, and how they lost their livelihoods because of the challenging business climate in the state.

“I’ve heard from family member, ‘I’m in debt up to my eyeballs,”‘ he said about how they invested in their business or farm. “Those are the people I will be fighting for in Albany. There are so many small businesses that need help. I want to bring common sense back to the table.”

The 57th State Senate District covers Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua counties, and portions of Livingston County

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