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Another Voice: Vote to keep Western New York economy moving forward

By Dottie Gallagher-Cohen and Greg Biryla

On Tuesday, Western New York voters have an opportunity to elect state representatives who will work to continue the progress that our region has seen over the past few years.

It’s important that our elected officials have the right priorities: limiting the growth of state spending, reducing state and local tax burdens, increasing private-sector jobs and making sound economic development decisions.

But it’s also important that our leaders recognize that what works in Brooklyn may not work in Buffalo.

We’ve seen what can happen when the Legislature focuses almost solely on the needs of the New York City region. In 2009 and 2010, both houses of the Legislature were led by legislators from New York City and the results were disastrous. Taxpayers were hit with $14 billion in tax increases – including a regressive energy tax – and state spending skyrocketed. Little was done to promote private-sector job growth, or to address the problem of ever-increasing real property taxes. Why did this happen? The Assembly, Senate and executive branch were controlled exclusively by downstate leaders.

Over the last four years, we’ve made great strides. The state has controlled spending and reduced taxes. The 2 percent real property tax cap has saved New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars, and forced local governments and school districts to live within their residents’ means. The 2014 tax relief package will help advance the state’s economic recovery. What contributed to this change? The creation of a bipartisan Senate coalition that raised the voices of strong upstate leaders.

The last four years represent real progress, and an excellent start. But much more needs to be done to make Western New York the economic power that it can and should be.

Numerous public opinion polls have shown that the two highest priorities for New Yorkers are taxes and jobs. The candidates that we have endorsed have shown their commitment to reducing the burden on taxpayers and promoting private-sector job growth. We urge voters to go to our websites (www.unshackleupstate.com/news/press-releases and www.thepartnership.org/news), where they can find information about which candidates are committed to putting in place policies that will maximize our region’s economic potential.

Make no mistake, a return to New York City-centric policies in Albany would be bad news for Western New York taxpayers and businesses.

This Election Day, Unshackle Upstate and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership encourage voters in Western New York and other upstate communities to vote to keep the Western New York economy moving forward.

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen is president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Greg Biryla is director of Development of Unshackle Upstate.