According to the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for Public Policy, from 2000 to 2008, more than 1.5 million New Yorkers left — the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states. I’ll let you in on a secret — it’s not the weather’s fault. It’s Albany’s.

The story of humanity is of people flocking to places where they believe their hopes and dreams can be realized. Such places require economic opportunity. It’s the story of our nation, and it used to be the story of New York.

While the challenges we face are many, as I travel the district, the major concerns I hear from voters are the economy, unemployment and taxes.

To improve the quality of life of all New Yorkers, we must support an entrepreneurial resurgence that will lead to more jobs and a better economy. Most companies in our area are small businesses employing fewer than 100 people. Growing that number of small businesses is our path to job creation.

The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index ranks New York as the 49th worst business tax climate. Instead of helping small businesses, we’re hurting them with layers of high taxes, fees and irresponsible spending.

When we say “no” to business and drive away our corporate tax base, we say “yes” to property tax increases, chasing people and taxable income from our state.

We need to say “yes” to business. Less burdensome taxes and more user-friendly government will attract more small businesses, spreading out the tax burden, generating new revenue and reducing the residential tax burden.

This will hold the line on taxes while providing New Yorkers with new employment opportunities and spending power. It will grow our economy.

In 2010, New York faces a $6.8 billion deficit. Tax revenue is falling. But for Upstate New Yorkers, 2010 holds special promise, thanks to important state and federal elections.

As an independent thinker, I will return common sense to Albany and make the tough decisions that need to be made now.

As a businesswoman, I know what it takes to create jobs in our region. As the founding chair of 40 Below — the young professionals group dedicated to stopping Central New York’s population loss — I understand to retain our most valuable asset — people — we need jobs and an economy where New Yorkers can reach our potential.

And as the Republican candidate for New York state’s 49th District, I will continue to make this a priority by promoting policy that creates a state people want to move to rather than leave.

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