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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"A magnet for new jobs and manufacturing"

ALBANY, Feb. 18 -- President’s Week commonly produces reflections on Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. But this time around I’d like to stay focused on the here and now -- because America faces crossroads, from where I stand, that have never been more serious, or tough.

Out of everything President Obama touched on in his recent State of the Union address, what was most striking for me was one sentence alone: “Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.”

No need to say any more. It’s the beginning, the middle and the end of the game for the American future: Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. We want our political leaders to mean what they say (and back up the words with actions), so I’m going to take this President at his word from this day forward when it comes to reviving an American commitment to manufacturing.

Here at home, people of a certain generation can readily recall the Southern Tier’s manufacturing heyday, when communities all along the road from Binghamton to Hornell were paved by manufacturers. We can recall the factories and the shops where fathers and grandfathers, and mothers and grandmothers produced the goods that drove the economy and first established the diverse, strong, vital middle class communities that prospered and succeeded.

Proud communities that put us on the map.

So, for many of us, it’s nothing short of heartening to consider the powerful possibility that maybe, just maybe we can recapture some of that successful past. Of course it’s equally important to stay grounded and ask the stark, tougher question: Is it remotely possible?

I believe it is. The economic highs and lows we’ve endured across our region for a generation -- peaks and valleys that dotted the economic landscape across America -- have been especially tough over the past several years. Corning, Inc. stays strong. But we face devastating losses in the closings of Sikorsky and Phillips Lighting. Economic leaders at last week’s 20th Annual Chemung County Economic Forum point to the promise of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry. But it took less time for Columbus to discover the New World than it’s taking the Cuomo administration to finalize any regulatory process that will determine this future.

What can be done? So much locally depends on the rebound of the national economy, of course, so we’ve no choice but to hope that Washington takes the right steps. The President’s commitment to American manufacturing is exciting. Coupled with local Congressman Tom Reed co-chairing the House Manufacturing Caucus, manufacturing has every chance of staying front and center on the national stage.

What about right here in New York State? The past two years have been positive on at least turning around the state's approach to economic development. Unfortunately a January 2013 report from the Tax Foundation still gives New York the dubious distinction of having the worst business tax climate in the nation.

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly professed no truer words than these: “The state of New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation.” With these words in mind, I've recently joined colleagues to urge the governor to immediately pull the plug on one proposal in his state budget: a five-year extension of an outrageous utility tax first imposed on New Yorkers in 2009. This higher utility tax was a bad move four years ago when I voted against it. It's worse today. Higher taxes like this one are tough on consumers, families and seniors, and make it increasingly difficult for New York’s businesses, farmers and manufacturers to stay competitive.

It’s my further contention that we need to act bolder for the upstate economy and manufacturing.

Yes, New York State manufacturing has suffered severe losses over the past decade, with upstate being hit especially hard. And yes, New York’s manufacturers face taxes that are among the highest in the industrialized world. But the manufacturing sector remains strong. Economic analysts also stress that manufacturing’s positioned for vital growth within the overall development of a 21st-century, high-tech economy.

How can government help? For starters, I’ve recently introduced legislation, which has bipartisan support in the Legislature, proposing a two-year phase-out of the state’s corporate franchise tax on manufacturers. Very simply and straightforwardly: we can start with this pro-job, pro-private-sector, pro-manufacturing tax cut to make New York State a magnet for manufacturing.

In support of this action, the head of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York said: “A reduction and elimination in the corporate franchise tax for manufacturers is just the right bold, effective and necessary step needed.”

Manufacturing has long been the economic engine of many upstate communities. I believe it remains our best hope for revitalization.

Unshackle Upstate’s Brian Sampson says of our proposed tax cut: "If you look in nearly every town in upstate New York, there is a manufacturing company that is the heart and soul of the community. Yet sadly, there is likely a shuttered manufacturer in that same town. New York needs to do more to help retain our manufacturing jobs and welcome new ones. This bill will help by cutting taxes on manufacturing companies and allowing them to compete in a global economy. This is a bill that should be fast tracked and passed this session."

Well said, and we’re going to try.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869