Emphasizes job creation and reform in race for state senate
By Kevin E. Foley
Terry Gipson has been running for state senate since early 2011, a long time, especially when you count all the time he spent in the region north of Dutchess County (no longer in the district) before the state legislature finally got around to drawing the final lines for the 41st State Senate District, of which Philipstown is now a part.
The long campaign slog hasn’t slowed Gipson down. He has energetically worked the new district with his message that he wants to take his experience as a small-business owner and Rhinebeck Village official to the state capitol to make a difference on a variety of issues, in particular the economic future of the region in and around Philipstown. “I see myself as a candidate with ideas and practical proposals,” he said.
Gipson is now in a three-way race for the seat with Republicans having split in a hard-fought primary. Steven Saland, the long-time incumbent Republican senator from Poughkeepsie, managed to barely hold off a challenge by Neil DiCarlo from Southeast, who did, however, win the Conservative Party’s nomination. Their battle was (and is) mainly over Saland’s “yes” vote on the state’s 2011 Marriage Equality Act. Gipson supports the act.
Jobs stimulus a key
Helping stimulate new businesses and therefore more jobs is one area Gipson stresses. He points to the abundance of vacant offices and industrial spaces as both indicative of the need and the presence of opportunity. “Being a small-business owner myself has given me real, first-hand insight into how difficult it is to run a business in New York state,” he said.
Gipson believes the state government should do more in this area despite apparent budget difficulties, because in the long run he sees the results paying off. In particular he would have the state offer no-interest loans to qualified business people to help pay the first 20 percent of new employees’ salaries as a way to encourage new hiring.
“I think this is a creative way to help businesses stay in New York,” he said. He added he believed the program would have to emphasize the hiring of local people. He would also find ways to especially assist businesses that make a point of hiring veterans of the armed services.
Gipson sees new developments in renewable energy production as the next big industry for the Hudson Valley. He envisions government and private sector partnerships that create new projects in wind, solar and hydrokinetic energy production among others. He believes with a concerted effort, “We can attract energy and science people to the area.” And he thinks there should be a “natural alliance between business and education” to foster the growth he envisions.
On two big energy questions, however, Gipson is in the opposition. He is against the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant for another 20 years. He agrees with Gov. Cuomo it should be closed and that other power and employment sources can be found to replace it. He is also opposed to the introduction in New York state of hydro-fracking, the controversial natural-gas extraction process. The Cuomo administration is currently conducting a review of the issue.
Opposes 2-percent property-tax cap
The state’s mandatory property-tax cap formula, in effect since 2011, is often touted by Cuomo as a centerpiece of his and the state legislature’s accomplishments over the past two years. But Gipson is not supportive of the idea and would vote to abolish it.
“I am not in favor of the 2-percent cap. I think we are going to find over time that it’s not going to be very effective. It’s forcing municipalities to make unnecessary cuts. I would like to see us to go to a more progressive tax system in New York state, so we can generate the amount of revenue we do need, so the state can offer the municipalities the kind of assistance they really need, rather than forcing unfunded mandates onto their budgets,” Gipson said.
Mindful that property taxes are both a strain on many people and the mainstay of education funding, Gipson would join the ranks of those who support the replacement of property taxes with income tax as the source for education funding.
“The biggest problem in the Hudson Valley is the cost of education. We should replace high property taxes with lower income taxes so people are paying based on their ability to do so,” he said. Gipson underscored that changing to an income-tax-based system would particularly help senior citizens on a fixed income afford to stay in their homes.
Gipson also emphasized that any change in taxes must be accompanied by a continuing effort to reduce state debt and “get the fiscal books in order.”
Although he disagrees with the governor on the tax cap, Gipson generally aligns himself with the state’s chief executive and the Democratic party on other matters, such as equal access to healthcare, equal pay for women, an increase in the minimum wage, and reform of the state government.
He particularly shares Cuomo’s emphasis on enhanced ethics. “I agree with the negative sentiment people have toward Albany; continuing to address that issue has to be at the top of the list.”
Gipson said he would support campaign finance reform, including the public financing of campaigns rather than the private raising of money. He said he would support the rather radical notion of giving challengers an equal amount of financing to the incumbent: “Make it easier to be replaced if you don’t do the job.” He also supports some kind of term limit (he is open to negotiation on the actual number of terms) and thinks senate terms should be four years, not two. “It’s really hard to get elected and then have to start running all over again. You’re not getting things done.”