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Politics and Government

Katko lays out plan to fight poverty by lowering manufacuturing tax rate

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) laid out a plan he and others in Washington are working on to fight poverty across the nation. Katko visited one of the poorest neighborhoods in Syracuse Tuesday to hear from residents and explain what he thinks will help solve the problem. 

Theotis Wallace, 23, dropped out of high school in 10th grade. He lives on the south side, is trying to take care of his son and is thinking about going back to school at Bryant and Straton College, which Katko encouraged him to do.

“The struggle is hard, finding a job around 17, 16 years old," Wallace said. "I’m trying to lift it up off the ground and keep the positivity rolling.”

His desire to see a better future is shared by many in this community of vacant homes with broken glass on the sidewalks and abandoned TV’s, mattresses and couches on the curbs.

Katko is on a task force in the House Republican conference working on a poverty package, a series of legislation that will address the issue. At its heart is tax reform, specifically lowering the rate for manufacturers.

“If you don’t have tax reform for manufacturers, there’s no incentive for them to come back from overseas,” Katko said. "We just need to level the playing field. Close the loopholes so everyone is paying their fair share and get those companies to come back. Then if they leave, then you smack them. But get them to come back here. There's trillions of dollars overseas."

Katko said that is necessary to give people in this community opportunity.

“That is your leg up out of poverty is manufacturing, those entry level jobs,” Katko said. "The only silver lining I can see in what's going on in the last 20 years in this country is our manufacturers now are so lean and so mean because they have to be just in order to survive, that if we lowered the cost to do business here, I think we would kick everyone's butt."

To offset tax cuts, Katko said the U.S. should close corporate loopholes. Katko said companies are willing to pay their fair share if there is certainty to what they pay in taxes.

In saying eduction is key to fighting urban poverty, Katko touted the education law passed in 2015 which gives schools more flexibility with teaching standards, including Common Core.

“We can’t teach kids in the inner city, the way you teach them in the suburbs,” Katko said.

Those in the community said what they need to climb out of poverty are guarantees that city workers will be hired for city construction projects including Interstate-81, that they have the transportation to get those jobs and a sliding scale of benefits to transition from welfare programs to the workforce, all of which Katko said he does support. 

Katko said he asked to be on the House transportation committee to make I-81 a high-priority project. He said he will advocate for local employment but residents have to go to public hearings to voice their concerns.