Battling unpredictable weather and the roar of oncoming Metro North trains, New York State’s 40th Senate District challenger Justin Wagner delivered a set of job proposals in the heart of Brewster Village last Tuesday.
Less than one month after the 30-year-old Croton lawyer announced his run against current state senator Greg Ball, Wagner highlighted his plan for creating jobs and fostering a more user-friendly environment for small business owners outside the Brewster Shipping Center in the village.
“Small business really tells the story of America, whether its business that’s been in the family for generations, or whether it’s the new shop on the block,” Wagner said. “My number one issue in this campaign is jobs—no agenda on job creation is serious without a focus on small business.”
Citing that residents of the Hudson Valley are uninterested in partisan politics when it comes to jobs, he explained that his proposal contained both republican and democratic values. Wagner said his plan includes tax incentives and tax reliefs, which he stated were inherently republican, and focuses on workforce training and decreased health care costs—both of which, according to Wagner, are democratic values.
“The centerpiece of the proposal is a new tax credit for businesses that creates jobs right here in our community,” Wagner said. “The tax credit would only be focused for small business owners, and there would be no hoops to jump through.”
To complement this incentive for existing business owners, Wagner said he wanted to implement a “climate of entrepreneurship” in New York State. Under his plan, a $5,000 tax deduction would be credited to anyone who starts a new business, makes income and hires workers—with that deduction doubling if the employer hires five or more workers.
In addition to creating jobs and allowing small businesses to set up shop in the Hudson Valley, Wagner also spoke about high healthcare costs placed on employers by large health insurance companies.
“Healthcare costs place an extraordinary burden on small business, with health care premiums increasing 100 percent over the last 10 years,” Wagner said. “Small businesses pay on average 18 percent higher than large businesses for healthcare premiums.”
In order to counteract these costs, Wagner proposed a statewide healthcare exchange, which would create a “marketplace” for small businesses to pool purchasing power, increase competition, decrease premiums and lower health care costs.
“Studies have shown that the enactment of the statewide healthcare exchange would decrease healthcare premiums for small businesses up to 8 percent,” Wagner said. “I’m calling on Albany to enact this exchange—Utah already has one, Massachusetts already has one—other states are running to take this federal funding, and we should be doing the same.
Lynne Eckardt, a Southeast resident who will be running for town board this November, facilitated the press conference between Wagner and Richard Ruchala, who owns the Brewster Shipping Center.
“People are so tired of hearing ‘we’re going to get you jobs’ and there’s no concrete plan on how to get these jobs,” Eckardt said. “I thought his ideas were doable, and they seemed pretty realistic to me.”
Wagner said he chose Brewster as a platform to spread his ideas about jobs because of its rich dynamic as a village, but also due to its present state of economic struggle, like most places in the region, as well.
“I think Brewster is one of those communities in the Hudson Valley that really typifies the problems that the whole region faces, in terms of jobs and small business creation,” Wagner said. “It’s a fantastic village, one of our beautiful hamlets here in the Hudson Valley, but there is a lot that we can do to get Brewster and villages like it back on track.”
Ball has also speaking about jobs in terms of the state’s business environment and inaccessible nature toward existing and new entrepreneurs in New York. The current state senator has been critical of Cuomo’s decision to invest $400 million in advancing higher technologies in New York, claiming companies like IBM outsource American jobs.
“I want to know who was at the table and what concessions were secured as New York decided to give $400 million to a group of companies that are known for off shoring jobs,” Ball said. “All I am asking for is that we absolutely ensure that these projected jobs are real, they are permanent and they are not undermined by larger off shoring efforts currently afoot.”
Editor’s Note: State Sen. Greg Ball’s response was added after the article was published to Examiner Media’s website. The last two paragraphs reflect Ball’s point-of-view on jobs in New York State.