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Three questions for candidates in the 57th State Senate District

By Howard B. Owens

We emailed three questions to the candidates for the 57th State Senate District, George Borrello and Dan Brown.  Unfortunately, Mr. Brown did not respond.  

UPDATE: Dan Brown responded Sunday evening.  While we had sent a reminder to a leader in his party on Thursday, we mistakenly omitted his name from the reminder email.  Since this was our mistake, we've agreed to publish his answers even though they were received after his opponents answers were published.  His answers are at the bottom of this post.

What is the number one issue facing New York, and how will you address it in the Senate?

BORRELLO: The number one issue facing New York State right now are the disastrous criminal justice reforms – namely cashless bail and the parole law titled, Less is More – that took effect in 2020 and have been responsible for soaring crime rates in our cities and communities. Certainly, our largest cities have suffered the most under these laws: Rochester’s per capita murder rate now outpaces Chicago’s; violent crime in New York City is up nearly 40 percent; car thefts in Buffalo are up approximately 200 percent. Even in smaller communities like ours, law enforcement officials report significant increases in shoplifting, drug crimes, car theft, domestic violence and drunken driving. When individuals know that there are no consequences for committing crimes, they have no incentive to curb criminal behavior. Repealing these laws is the most urgent priority. Then, we can bring all stakeholders to the table (which wasn’t done by those who wrote the original cashless bail law) and craft smart reforms that will be fair to defendants while keeping New Yorkers safe.

What do you think you could do as a member of the Senate to bring more new businesses, start-up, homegrown businesses to Genesee County, to foster entrepreneurship in Genesee County?

BORRELLO: As a small business owner myself, I know how difficult New York State makes it for entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. Our state is routinely ranked as the worst place to do business in New York State. One initiative that would act as a strong incentive for entrepreneurship is a measure that I sponsor called the “First Employee Tax Credit.” This proposal is a payroll tax credit to assist small businesses with the disproportionate rise in costs that result from hiring one employee.

Another key factor in creating a climate where entrepreneurship can thrive is ensuring our rural areas have access to broadband. For far too long, broadband access in our rural communities has been nonexistent or inadequate. That is why I led the fight to get the fiber optic tax levied by the state DOT repealed. This particular tax was killing the potential for broadband projects in rural areas with costs that increased in direct proportion to the length of cable to be installed. In rural areas where miles of cable are often required just to reach a single house, this tax was simply ridiculous. After three years of advocacy and building bipartisan support, I am pleased to report the tax was finally repealed in the latest state budget. This is important progress we will be looking to build on in the coming session.    

What is one policy initiative that the political party of your opponent espouses that you think makes sense, is good policy?

BORRELLO: One area of policy where I am in agreement with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is on the need to provide more funding and support for those who care for our most vulnerable residents. The Cuomo administration neglected this segment of our human services community for years, resulting in wages for direct care providers that were often less than the starting pay at fast food restaurants. Not surprisingly, this has created a crisis-level workforce shortage among the non-profit providers that care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Providers cannot find or retain staff, programs are closing and individuals are not having their needs met. We made some headway in addressing this crisis in this year’s budget, with a 5.4 percent statutory cost-of-living adjustment as well as some recruitment and retention initiatives, but more still needs to be done. There is strong bi-partisan support on this issue, so you can be sure I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make more progress.

Answers from Dan Brown.

Q1: Taxes. NY state carries some of the highest personal tax rates in the nation. The tax on our income, prepared food, clothing, fuel, property, school, and the tolls to drive on our roads - we are overtaxed, forcing those who can to either live or shop out of state.  The state government needs to attempt to follow the same tax regulations as schools and municipalities. As a fiscally conservative town supervisor of Great Valley for the past 17 years, the town has never exceeded the tax cap and has maintained a healthy contingency reserve. When I look at the 57th District, I see my town in every community. We need to rein in spending locally and especially at the state level and make our state affordable for our seniors, our working force, and our youth.  

Q2: Businesses are struggling to find a workforce. The development of educational agencies around the needs of local businesses is mandatory. I am a huge proponent of trade and technical schools. Apprenticeships to training people and specialized programs affording our young people the knowledge to be able to fill job vacancies here. Regardless of the job site in the 57th District, the technician shows up with a laptop before a wrench. Second, our infrastructure is lagging, power, water, sewer, and roads; every business looks for those fundamentals before the ground is broken on any project. A solid infrastructure shows a commitment to businesses. 

Q3: The Anti-Crime Initiative, municipalities need all the help they can get in mitigating the level of crime occurring in large cities. Bail Reform goes hand in hand and needs to be overhauled as well. The negative impact it has on our communities is felt far and wide, as the chairman of the Cattaraugus County Town Supervisors Association, every one of us is frustrated. Every local, county, and state judge feels that way. It creates an unsafe situation for the police, our friends, and our neighbors. It’s a priority. 

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