Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Highlights Need for Good Jobs

Labor Day is an important holiday, especially here in New York State where it was first celebrated nearly 130 years ago to publicly recognize the trade workers who have built this country. This is a holiday that now not only celebrates union laborers from every trade, but also each and every one of us who get up each day and go to work.

On this holiday, I am reminded of the work that still needs to be done to improve the job climate in this region. As a state we must continue to make jobs our top priority as we are on the cusp of turning this economy around. Throughout this downturn, I’ve worked to protect jobs with low cost power programs that keep people employed at Alcoa and Corning in St. Lawrence County, at Great Lakes Cheese and Climax Manufacturing in Jefferson County and at Birdseye Foods and Interface Solutions in Oswego County, to name a few.

These power deals, made through programs such as Power for Jobs, have been an important tool for job retention over the past decade. Power for Jobs itself sustains more than 25,000 jobs in Central New York and the North Country. We extended it another year, but I am working with the strong support of the business community to guarantee benefits for Upstate New York and make the program permanent.

In the 2010-11 State Budget, I worked to eliminate proposals that would have been especially bad for our communities. These proposals included job killing taxes on energy, healthcare and sugared beverages. Higher taxes on energy and healthcare would have forced each of us and every business to pay more, making it more difficult for us to make ends meet and threatening jobs. Likewise, the sugared beverage tax would have forced companies such as Pepsi-Cola Ogdensburg or Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Syracuse to consider layoffs.

These are real victories for our region. As is the funding we have been able to target toward protecting healthcare jobs and services in Fulton, at the North Country Children’s Clinic in Watertown, and United Helpers in Ogdensburg. The benefits here, as with education, which will get a nearly $15 million boost for schools in our three counties with new federal funding, are important both in the services provided and the jobs created or preserved.

Soon we will see the benefits of the Green Jobs/Green New York legislation to incentivize homeowners and businesses to make permanent energy efficiency improvements, saving them money on their energy bills and creating business for local construction companies and the growing number of local businesses specializing in weatherization. Likewise, the new Excelsior Jobs Program will provide job creation and investment incentives to firms in targeted industries while maintaining strict accountability standards.
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