Poverty Is Crushing Upstate Communities

Troubling new statistics from the Census Bureau highlight the stark reality of how bad Upstate New York’s poverty rates have become. In fact, three upstate cities—Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester—have among the top 25 worst childhood poverty rates in the nation.
Under Gov. Cuomo’s neglectful watch and misguided liberal policies, upstate New York has continued to suffer. Taxes remain high, residents are leaving in droves and the economic boom the rest of the nation is enjoying is nowhere to be found. Shockingly, Rochester’s childhood poverty rate, at 56.4 percent, is three times the national average.
The newly-released figures regarding childhood poverty reveal yet another manifestation of his administration’s economic incompetence. There is simply no excuse for this sort of failure. The strength of our human and natural resources is being squandered by mismanagement, corruption and disinterest in the problems of counties north of New York City.
With 14 upstate counties having poverty levels at or higher than the U.S. average, the situation is a symptom of a larger illness—New York’s weak economy. Unless this administration commits to creating jobs, creating economic development programs that are not corrupt and actually work, and lowering taxes, this problem won’t get better.  
High poverty rates have devastating impacts for both children and adults, hampering their ability to eat properly, purchase seasonally-appropriate clothing and reliable transportation. Reducing taxes, allowing small business to thrive and putting money in the hands of consumers will organically drive up wages for all workers and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. It will help retain residents and, ultimately, will cut at the heart of New York’s staggering poverty problem.
Tackling the issue of poverty will require a concerted legislative effort. As such, a bill sponsored by members of our conference (A.4295, Goodell) directly addresses low-income families by amending the labor law to allow claimants collecting unemployment to obtain part-time work without losing their unemployment benefits.
We have also pushed for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit. While others support job-crushing minimum wage hikes that ultimately do more harm to communities than good, a less damaging, broader solution is reducing New Yorkers’ tax burden.
The Census Bureau report is damning evidence New York is far, far from being on the right track. At its core, childhood poverty is a systemic, long-term problem with generational impacts. Corrective action must be taken immediately. I urge the governor to refocus his attention on the problems plaguing New York and fix our broken economy.
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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