By LIZ SKOCZYLAS
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
When session begins in January, State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, will have her hands full with projects to better the area.
Sen. Cathy Young regarding NRG
While she looks over her seven years in senate, Sen. Young sees several accomplishments. However, as she enters her next term, she is already looking ahead to what else she can do.
Job creation and retention are what Sen. Young says are some of the most rewarding accomplishments during her time in the Senate.
"We have had many successes. One that stands out is ensuring that SKF would remain and invest in our region, saving more than 600 jobs," Sen. Young said. "By working together in a bipartisan effort, we brought together company, state, local and labor officials to find a solution."
An initiative started by Sen. Young concentrated on revitalizing Main Streets around the state by restoring historic buildings and bringing commerce, small businesses and jobs back to downtowns. By changing the tax law, Sen. Young said, the senate was able to create an incentive that is now triggering private sector investment and economic renewal.
Sen. Young cited Livingston County as one of the areas within her district which has embraced the initiative. She said downtowns in communities such as Mount Morris, N.Y. have become a destination for tourists and shoppers.
"This has resulted in a significant increase in the county's sales tax revenues due to the creation of dozens of new small businesses and jobs," she said. "Word is spreading about this success, and I believe that more communities, such as those in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, will take advantage of this innovative solution."
Statewide, much has been accomplished as well, according to Sen. Young.
"The 2 percent property tax cap has put the brakes on runaway property tax hikes," she said. "We capped Medicaid growth to counties to give relief to property taxpayers, and put in place the lowest income tax rate in 58 years for middle-income earners."
However, there is still more work to be done. Sen. Young sponsors legislation called New Jobs-NY. The plan, according to Sen. Young, would create thousands of new private sector jobs by delivering more tax relief to small businesses and manufacturers, reducing energy costs and enacting major fiscal reforms to make New York state's economy more competitive.
"My goal is to continue efforts to make it more affordable to live, work, and do business in our state. We need good-paying jobs and career opportunities so our young people can stay after they graduate,"she said.
In Chautauqua County, the senator sees repowering the NRG coal-fueled plant in Dunkirk with modern and efficient combined-cycle technology as one of the biggest challenges. The initiative, she said, would protect the local tax base, preserve jobs, provide up to 500 construction jobs and generate dramatically cleaner energy and improve air quality.
Sen. Young spearheaded the PowerUpWNY coalition. Currently, she is working to gain support for the project.
"So far, we have collected almost 4,000 signatures in a petition drive, and I have been meeting with company officials, Governor Cuomo's staff and other stakeholders," she said. "We are pushing hard for this new plant, plus statewide solutions to meet New York State's energy needs. Legislation will have to be taken up this coming session."