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Dem ads against candidate clarified

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Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began airing a television ad alleging Dierdre K. Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, is in the midst of a scandal.

She's not.

The ad is telling the truth, however, when it says Ms. Scozzafava voted for a "special corporate tax break" — the state's Empire Zone program — while WiseBuys, a company she helped start, was applying for the credit in 2005.

The bill did not create the Empire Zone program, which provides incentives to businesses that create jobs. It extended it for six years, while adding 12 new zones.

The bill also had 27 other objectives, which the ad did not note, including:

n Exempting clothing and footwear purchases under $110 from state sales tax for two weeks.

n Reducing the small-business corporate franchise tax from 6.85 percent to 6.5 percent.

n Allowing the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to give out an additional $2 million in low-income housing tax credits.

n Requiring Native Americans to collect sales tax on tobacco sales.

The bill passed 119-27 in the Assembly.

More than 8,700 businesses, employing more than 344,000 people, have taken advantage of Empire Zone credits statewide, according to the Empire State Development Corp.

In March 2007, the Post-Standard reported that state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, voted to create the Empire Zone tax breaks that ultimately allowed him to project $35,100 in credits on a law firm he started. He was also eligible to claim tax relief on his building for 10 years, earning an additional $10,950 in credits, the paper reported.

"Anyone who started a new company, like we started a new law firm, that didn't take advantage of the benefits would not be acting rationally," Mr. DeFrancisco told the newspaper. "It doesn't make sense. You're eligible for them. You should take them."

State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, R-Fayette, was employed by Harris Beach when he also voted for the bill that extended the Empire Zone program. The law firm projected $963,625 in tax credits in 2005, the Post-Standard reported.

Both Mr. DeFrancisco and Mr. Nozzolio subsequently were re-elected.

The DCCC ad also alleges that Ms. Scozzafava "voted for more taxes and fees 190 times." The committee detailed 195 votes that it claimed proved its point.

However, most of the votes were for extensions of county sales tax rates, not tax increases. The votes the committee cited also included extensions of motel and hotel tax rates in locations such as Suffolk and Nassau counties.

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