A Surging Economy Filled With Opportunity and Promise
Our economy is strong and growing stronger with an economic environment spurring considerable job growth and desperately needed opportunities for American workers. Just since the recent publication of the first part of this two-part op-ed, we have had even more great economic news. With a 4.1% GDP growth rate for Q2 announced, we have the fastest growing economy now in 4 years.
One of the ways to ensure the hardworking men and women of Long Island feel the positive economic impact is to encourage businesses to grow local and stay local. There are important opportunities for all levels of government to assist. A new restaurant owner will be responsible for property taxes to the local school district, zoning applications to the town, and health department approval from the county, while paying income taxes to the state and federal government. This is just a sampling of how overhead impacts the ability and decision making to open and grow a business.
When it comes to our economy, Long Island has much to be optimistic about. As of June, our economy had grown by roughly 15,600 jobs in just a year and unemployment rates are reaching record lows, with the unemployment rate in Suffolk County dropping to under 4%; it’s lowest level in over a decade. With the removal of some deeply flawed, job killing federal regulations, the trend has been for the federal government to step out of the way, making it easier for businesses to start up, build and expand. Reducing burdensome taxes and rescinding poorly designed regulations allow businesses to boom in our local communities as well as all across our country, translating to even more growth that spurs downtown revitalization and many other benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, thanks to a booming economy and plummeting unemployment, personal tax receipts are higher this year than originally anticipated.
In fact, our economy is doing so well that right now there are more available jobs than people to fill the positions. Now more than ever, we need workers who have the skills to succeed in a 21st century economy. During my time in Congress, I secured passage of important legislation like the STEM Education Act, which provides federal funding towards STEM programs in our schools, helping to ensure American workers are equipped for a modern economy and employers have a well-trained workforce. While every nation’s backbone is its rule of law, legal and skilled immigrants can help fill job vacancies and bring specialized skills to help grow our economy. That is why legal immigration remains so important to the success of our country. Many companies in need of talented employees will leave our country for locations abroad if they cannot fill essential positions in the United States.
Long Island still faces unique challenges such as high local property taxes, energy costs and an overall cost of living that have been chasing Long Islanders and opportunities away from home here on the island. In 2017, the average household income in Suffolk County was roughly $90,000. While that may seem like a lot of money in other parts of the country, it certainly does not go anywhere near as far on Long Island. The reason why our State and Local Tax deduction has been so high has been because our state and local taxes are so high. Our area’s ever-increasing taxes have become too high a cost to pay, affecting so many young people’s ability to raise their families here and seniors’ ability to stay in the communities they love. Our state and local governments can and must provide immediate relief.
For those of us who grew up on Long Island, we understand best that our coastal economy is a critical part of our economy. In a district almost completely surrounded by water, we have a unique responsibility to safeguard our waterways and the hundreds of business that rely on our coastal economy. From standing up for our local fishermen to leading the fight against offshore drilling off the coast of Long Island, I have long championed the protection of the maritime industries and our local waterways that have supported Long Islanders for generations. Even our area’s manufacturing industry is trending upward with the number of manufacturing jobs in Suffolk County now at 72,300, increasing every month over the last few months.
For generations, our communities’ stunning shorelines, beautiful beaches and rich history have drawn visitors from around the world, spurring Long Island’s booming hospitality industry. Our region’s past is hallmarked by our area’s rich agricultural and vida cultural industries, but so is our future. Farms, wineries and craft breweries are capitalizing on the many visitors that flock to our area, creating new businesses, new jobs and new local economic revenue with businesses that will grow and stay local.
Long Island has also earned a world-renowned reputation for pioneering the future of clean and green energy, medical and scientific research, and cancer treatment thanks to innovation hubs like Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Supporting good-paying jobs while paving the way towards the future of technology, I am proud of the joint work at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Lab and their record of pioneering in the field of clean and green energy. This is why I have opposed budget cuts that negatively impact these institutions and have secured full funding for their continued scientific research.
I was born and raised on Long Island and am proudly raising my children here, because despite our challenges we live in the greatest Congressional District in America. It is critical that we allow each of our beautiful communities to grow, prosper, and attract innovation, ideas and research that can help create more good paying jobs on Long Island and further strengthen our local economy now and in the future.
Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York, serving on both the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.