By Robert Harding
U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei unveiled his plan to boost the economy and create jobs in central New York on Monday -- a plan that includes ideas he received from participants at small business roundtables held throughout the 24th Congressional District.
Maffei's plan, "Strengthening Central New York's Middle Class: A Commitment to Creating Jobs and Growing our Economy," includes proposals to help small businesses, the region's workforce and improve central New York's infrastructure.
"This is a status report. After being in office 100 days, we have talked to over 150 small business owners and other community leaders directly," Maffei said at Monday's press conference. "We have gone through all four counties and many different corners of the counties and visited all sorts of different industries -- community centers, business incubators, businesses, hospitals, etc. The reason why I'm putting out this job plan is because it lays out essentially what we've heard and some of the basic conclusions that we can make from it. There are several highlights to this. They all strike the same tone. These are all ways to try to find jobs for the community, where we can expand jobs, where my office and myself as congressman can be helpful and can work together with other people in the community."
While Maffei's plan is more of a general outline, he does focus on several areas. Under education and boosting the workforce, he supports expanding access to federal student loan funding and a tax break for companies that invest in education and training opportunities for their workers. He supports bringing another discount airline to the Syracuse airport and creating a national infrastructure bank to help fund projects like bridge and road repairs. He also called for a paperwork holiday for new small businesses, a payroll tax rebate and the creation of small business start-up accounts.
Maffei had guest speakers briefly discuss ideas to support small businesses, rebuilding infrastructure and improving education and workforce training. But for the final topic, "Utilize our Competitive Advantage," Maffei tackled it himself. He wants to boost tourism in central New York and touted his support of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act. The bill, H.R. 664, was introduced by Maffei in the House of Representatives has 32 cosponsors.
At Monday's press conference, Maffei said there were no new updates on the bill, which would create a national historical park in Auburn honoring Tubman. But he thinks once the Senate acts, the House will pass the measure.
"It's going to take some time to get through the process, but I think things are moving fine," he said. "It's just a matter of making sure that it gets through the Senate, stays in the Senate and then I think we can pass it through the House. I think it's a matter of making sure the bill continues to get the kind of support it's getting, which is bipartisan by the way."