22nd Congressional District candidates spar over job creation
What role, if any, the government should play in job creation was at the forefront of Thursday's Time Warner Cable News debate between the three candidates running in the 22nd Congressional District.
Third-party candidate Martin Babinec, an entrepreneur, said while rolling back regulations and lowering tax rates on businesses are effective tools, upstate New York already has the ingredients it needs to spur economic growth and he knows how to help them come together.
"Within the role of being a congressman, there's the opportunity to bring the right parties and put them on a path that they wouldn't otherwise be," Babinec said. "This is what I've done for the past six years with my nonprofit. I know how to do it and we have actually helped hundreds of entrepreneurs and laid the foundation for thousands of jobs."
He said moving tax dollars to large corporations isn't working. Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) also chastised tax incentives, which she referred to as corporate welfare.
"Allow the private sector to grow jobs, that's exactly how our business has survived," Tenney said.
Tenney argued that allowing the government to "pick winners and losers" also opens the door to corruption.
"We [Tenney's business] have to compete against a crony-ous (sic) pay-to-play system," Tenney said. "We could certainly use it, but I'm the only one on this stage that owns a business that is not the recipient of tens of millions in government handouts and government money. That is the problem, it wreaks of corruption and it's something we have to stop."
Democratic Broome County Legislator Kim Myers, whose family owns Dick's Sporting Goods, defended her business's use of tax breaks in the past, like at the new regional distributing facility the company is building in the town of Conklin.
"When you're given a tax credit or a tax incentive, that doesn't mean that you're not paying any taxes," Myers said. "Our particular building that is going up and creating 466 jobs took a piece of land that was producing zero tax revenue -- zero. Our company is putting a $100 million building on that, that we will own, that we will put 466 jobs there."
Myers said the tax incentives are powerful tools for localities and states to become more competitive.
"Why else would somebody come to New York," Myers asked. "They're not just going to spring up like flowers. There has to be a reason why they would come there. That's what other states are doing. That's why many of our companies have moved to South Carolina, North Carolina or other states."
The 22nd District is currently represented by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), who is retiring at the end of his term. It includes all or part of eight counties stretching from the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier.