As New York State Sen. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) campaigned for his seat last year, he came to a home in a South Shore community that had several POD storage units in a driveway. The homeowner came out of one of the units, and Murray asked, “Coming or going?”
The resident looked at Murray and said, “Going. Why would anyone be coming to New York?”
The resident went on to explain that he was moving to Virginia, where he had bought a home of the same size on 10 acres of land. His current property was barely one-third of an acre and had a tax bill of $15,000. His new home’s tax bill would be $1,500.
The resident asked, “Why would anyone stay here?”
New York State’s oppressively high taxes that have continued to drive an exodus out of the state is one of the cornerstones of Murray’s reasons to run for the district 3 senate seat. A former journalist, small business owner and ex-state Assembly member, Murray has seen all sides of Albany’s successes and failures.
“New York State is not friendly to small business owners or taxpayers, especially on Long Island,” said Murray. “The state’s spending is out of control.”
Murray is a graduate of the Broadcast Institute of Maryland and spent a decade, involved in radio and television news throughout Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.
During that period, Murray covered the Pennsylvania State Capital for over 100 radio stations and served on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Associated Press. While living in Pennsylvania, Murray played five seasons of semi-pro football with the Chambersburg Cardinals and York Lions.
In 1994, he came to Long Island, working in advertising sales for TCI Cable. In just over a year, Murray was promoted to regional sales manager serving the tri-state area. Not being able to completely let go of his love for broadcasting, He periodically filled in doing morning news at WBLI-FM radio and also did the play-by-play radio broadcasts of local High School football games on WALK-AM.
In 1997, Murray began his own small business and learned how difficult being the boss can be, especially in New York State, and started his own Advertising Agency – D & S Advertising, Inc.
For nearly 25 years, the company published several free publications, including but not limited to: the Long Island Job Finder employment newspaper AND website, the Long Island Pet Lover magazine and website and the Long Island Fugitive Finder crime fighting magazine & website.
“There was a lot of frustration for a long time, trying to grow a business in this state,” said Murray. “We were helping people find jobs, and assisting in taking dangerous people off the streets, but it became increasingly difficult to run the business.”
Murray’s calling to public service was almost a dare from, his stepson.
“I know it’s corny, but I used to love the show West Wing,” he said. “I became interested in politics and started voicing opinions and complaints. So, one day my stepson essentially challenged me when he said to either stop complaining or go do something about it.”
In short order, Murray became involved in local politics, working on or managing campaigns. His time to serve in office came in 2010 when won a special election elected to serve the state Assembly. He was re-elected by a comfortable margin in November of 2010. Although he lost his seat two years later, he regained his position in the state Assembly in 2015 and served his district four more years.
While in the Assembly, Murray led the fight to repeal the MTA payroll tax, eliminate the salt-water fishing license fee, pass the largest middle-class tax cut in decades and adopt the I-STOP program to help fight the serious problem of prescription drug abuse.
“Sadly, not only did thee issues not go away, they have become worse,” said Murray. “The governor’s policies continue to lead the state in the wrong direction.”
Murray points to the MTA payroll tax, when the state imposes a tax on any employer or self-employed individuals who do business in the New York metro area. The tax includes the counties of New York (Manhattan), Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester.
Murray also said the escalating minimum wage requirements put an undue burden on businesses.
“How can any business continue to operate successfully under these policies,” said Murray. “The state continues to tax, it’s hit after hit after hit, but does not consider rising costs to run any business. There is no balance or logic to that policy.”
It is no secret that politics too often play a role in government in Albany and beyond. But the real story isn’t always clear.
“Above all, many of our differences are regional,” said Murray. “There is a huge difference between New York City and Long Island, and we have to find a way to fight back against the craziness that is coming from the city. We need to work together.”
“Of course, there are very progressive members of the left and vocal members of the right, but the majority of people are in the middle and just want to do the right thing for the people,” said Murray.
Above all, Murray believes that it is up to the electorate to make their voices are heard if there is to be change. Apathy, burnout from a constantly battling media world and people being too busy with their daily lives can take them away from exercising their frustrations or opinions, whether it be at the polls or with other methods.
“There is no better indication in New York State of frustration and a need to change than seeing the amount of people fleeing the state so they can live better lives,” said Murray. “Most of these residents don’t want to leave their homes, but they need to so their families can survive. That reality alone should be enough to get elected officials to work together and save this state.”
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.