BY MICHAEL RICONDA
CONGERS – Westchester County executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino continued his statewide campaign with a visit to Rockland County on August 22, where he met with local business and community leaders and continued to push his jobs plan.
Flanked by Congressional Candidate Chris Day and Rockland Republican Chairman Vincent Reda, Astorino’s tour of the county culminated with a visit to Congers-based construction company Cal-Mart Enterprises, where he briefly laid out his jobs plan for New York.
Astorino’s plan focuses mainly on the relaxation of regulations and taxes to create a business-friendly climate in the state. According to him, most metrics compiled over the course of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tenure point to a continued decline in New York’s viability as both a marketplace and a state of residence.
“We’ve got the highest taxes in America, we’ve got the most regulations against businesses in America, we’ve got the worst place to retire according to the AARP, we’ve got the worst business climate, the worst economic outlook and when you add it all up we’ve had 400,000 people leave this state in the last four years,” Astorino said.
The job plan Astorino hopes to implement would cut regulations, mandates and tax burdens while encouraging the modernization of businesses and workers with incentives for high-tech start ups, public schools and community colleges. In particular, the plan aims to encourage training in economically in-demand industries and help augment vocational programs to meet local needs.
The plan also addresses other areas Astorino considers subject to growth. Included are plans to repair aging infrastructure, steps to continue natural gas and nuclear energy development, grants and low-interest loans for users of renewable energy and incentives for both established family farms and new agricultural operations.
Astorino’s campaign has largely hinged on staunch criticism for Cuomo’s response to corruption and business-as-usual in Albany. Repeating a frequent criticism, he lambasted Cuomo’s alleged interference with the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, claiming such actions contributed to the state’s economic woes.
According to him, the corruption has enabled state-level officials to use public funds in backroom deals, directly and negatively affecting taxpayers.
“The corruption in the state is so rampant and so bad that it’s what’s keeping the state from moving forward,” Astorino said. “It’s why taxes are so high, it is why the economy is bad in New York, it’s why businesses and people are leaving New York, because they’re sick and tired of paying the corruption tax which is really the underlying tax that we all have to pay in the state for the slimy deals that they cut for themselves in Albany.”
As a foil to this, he pointed to his ten-point ethics plan which includes eight-year term limits for elected officials at the state level and the stripping of pensions from officials convicted of improprieties.
Aside from his press conference at Cal-Mart Enterprises, Astorino also toured Rockland Bakery in Nanuet and attended a roundtable luncheon with county business leaders in Orangeburg. After the Cal-Mart media event, he hosted a closed-door meeting with local clergy at St. Joseph’s School in Spring Valley.