Governor Cuomo was right in his State of the State message when he said “New York is at a crucial crossroads … we must change to return to prosperity … New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation.” The Governor talked of no new taxes, a state spending cap, a property tax cap and a focus on growing jobs in the private sector. None of these will, however, happen without radically redesigning our policies and changing our spending habits.
The Governor has established three reform teams of experts and stakeholders from government and the private sector to assess the existing situation and make recommendations to help fix our problems: the Medicaid Redesign Team, the Mandate Relief Redesign Team and the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission. The first two are to make initial reports by March 1, in time for inclusion in the 2011-12 state budget. Additional reports will continue throughout the 2011-12 fiscal year.
I believe it is imperative that Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature be successful this year in efforts to start the process of turning our state around. Recent census figures show that Wayne County and most of Upstate, from the Mohawk Valley west, lost population in the past decade. In the past 20 years, upstate has lost just as many private sector jobs as have been created, compared to a 6% job growth statewide and a 19% growth in private sector employment across the nation. This job stagnation needs to be corrected if we are to have a viable future.
People migrate toward opportunity and the two million New Yorkers who left New York in the past decade were looking for greater opportunity somewhere else. I am prepared to work with Gov. Cuomo and legislators from both sides of the aisle to make the difficult decisions to help New York create a climate of opportunity here in New York that will yield the thriving economy we all desire.