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The Economy Must Be Our Top Priority

By Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

For many, Labor Day marks the end of summer, the beginning of the school year, and a day off from work. It can represent all of these things, but it means much more. Labor Day is an opportunity to pause and think about all the hard working men and women who built our great country.

Started here in our state in 1882 as a way to recognize union builders, it has become a day to remember all the hard workers who make this country run each day. Make no mistake—great ideas have shaped this country, but it is the working families who built it.

As we celebrate the workforce, I am reminded of the need for good jobs in our communities and I’m proud of the commitment I’ve made to attract and preserve good jobs. The economy must be our top priority.

Just before you chose me to be your new Senator, I helped facilitate negotiations between Alcoa and the New York Power Authority for a low cost power agreement that will preserve 1,200 jobs in St. Lawrence County. This is the role that government can play in economic development. We can be competitive for jobs here in Central and Northern New York and as your representative I have worked to reduce taxes and cut through red tape so we can keep good jobs here, bring in new industry, and help our small businesses grow.

I’ve worked closely with A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital and the state Department of Health to create a framework that gives the hospital an opportunity to preserve services and 200 good paying jobs. We also obtained an extension that will give the hospital until July 2009 to avoid closure under the Berger Commission’s mandate. This hospital is an important component of health care in Oswego County and a vital centerpiece of the economy in and around Fulton.

I have made this my focus because all jobs are important, especially these days. Families are struggling to make ends meet. Still, I see opportunities ahead. The seeds of economic prosperity have been planted here and it is up to us to make them grow. The comptroller recognized this opportunity when he chose to invest pension funds in Northeast Biofuels. Small operations which have focused on alternative energy, environmentally sustainable products and new technologies have sprung up throughout the district and I am committed to helping these businesses grow. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced. These are jobs that can provide for our working families.

There is more that we can and must do to improve our economy. I have pushed for changes to our Empire Zone program to make it more efficient and ensure that the businesses receiving tax breaks are held accountable to meet their employment goals and do not outsource our jobs. We need to attract businesses that will not only locate here, but grow here and invest in our communities.

Likewise, we need to maintain our commitment to invest in the upstate economy. I worked with the governor to ensure that the Upstate Revitalization plan remained part of this year’s budget. This investment of $700 million will make available the resources we need to strengthen our economy. It is important that we utilize these resources here in Central and Northern New York. Together with the comptroller’s investment strategies, there is a great deal of funding available to foster the long term growth we need and I am working to see these resources used here.

I hope everyone had a great holiday this past Monday and I’d like to give my best wishes to all the young people returning to school this fall. As the workforce of the future, it is my goal to make sure each and every young person has the opportunity to stay here and raise their own families. Happy Labor Day.