By Karen Frantz
With City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) poised to take on state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) for the 15th Senate District in the general election this November, hot-topic issues such as the economy, gun control and hydrofracking will likely take front-and-center positions in the campaigns.
Some of Ulrich’s top economic issues are going to be taxes and job creation, campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said.
She called Addabbo’s record on the economy “dismal,” saying he has voted numerous times to raise taxes, resulting in an increase of $2,400 a year in taxes for the middle class.
“Those are real numbers for people struggling in this economy,” she said.
But Addabbo said raising taxes was needed to protect essential public services during the dire fiscal situations that gripped the city in 2002 and the state in 2009.
“Eric has never faced the fiscal situations that I have faced in the city and the state,” Addabbo said. “When you’re faced with a $17 billion deficit, there’s very little you can do but raise taxes.”
Now that New York is in a better situation, he said, some of the tax increases are starting to roll back, such as the MTA payroll tax.
In terms of plans to spur the economy, Ulrich would lower both the corporate and individual tax rates, Proud said.
She said he would also push to reduce regulatory burdens on business in New York state, which she said ranks 49th out of 50 in being business-friendly.
“[New York] often loses jobs to Connecticut or New Jersey that have friendlier business climates,” she said.
Addabbo said he is a proponent of providing incentives for businesses to hire locally and has sponsored legislation that would provide tax credits to small businesses if they hire seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and others.
He also said he will continue to work with Resorts World in South Ozone Park. Although the casino has been criticized by some, including Ulrich, for not achieving the 70 percent mark in local hires as its contract promised, Addabbo said every bit helps and the potential for job growth is there.
When it comes to gun control, the candidates’ positions also diverge. Addabbo said he believes in the Second Amendment but supports tougher gun laws.
“There’s no reason why New York state shouldn’t have the toughest gun control laws in the country,” he said, saying too many innocent lives are being lost to gun violence.
Ulrich has said, however, that the state’s gun laws are strong enough and the problem is with guns being brought into New York from other states, such as Virginia and South Carolina.
The candidates also differ on hydrofracking, which uses pressurized water to extract petroleum from reservoir rocks. Although Ulrich has said he supports it, Addabbo is a firm opponent, saying the potential damage to New York’s water and soil is too great and it will not create jobs because oil companies bring in workers from elsewhere.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.