The 2007 Legislative Session opened this week with the governor’s State of the State address to a joint meeting of the state Senate and Assembly in the state Capitol. In his address, Governor Spitzer presented an agenda that calls for property tax relief and far-reaching reforms, many of which aim to change the archaic laws that govern our state’s business climate. I am pleased to hear the governor lay the groundwork of his agenda with ideas that my conference has advocated for years. While much of what he said is promising, actual work will not begin until the presentation of his Executive Budget, a document that will provide many of the details to his plan.
I believe the top issue we need to undertake is passing lasting property tax relief. With our taxes being among the highest in the nation, it is essential we enact property tax cuts for homeowners. I am pleased to hear the governor feels the same way and look forward to seeing his proposal. While the details of his property tax cuts are not yet available, I believe the best way to cut property taxes is by holding the line on state spending, attacking Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse, and reducing unfunded state mandates imposed on municipalities. My conference has advocated this for several years and we will make it a priority again this session.
Job creation is important to our region’s adaptation to a globalizing economy and one of my most important issues. The best way to help local businesses create jobs is to reform laws, like workers’ compensation, that tend to benefit no one. Although New York is one of the costliest states for workers' compensation insurance, its benefit level is one of the nation’s lowest. New York’s construction industry also has an insurance crisis that revolves around on-the-job injuries resulting in skyrocketing increases in liability insurance premiums, and a shortage of affordable options of insurance coverage.
This is particularly hurtful to many of New York’s small businesses, which employ over 52 percent of the state work force. That’s why I am pleased the governor is receptive to finding ways to make this a more affordable program to businesses. The end result would be job retention and creation in New York. Over the course of the session, I look forward to finding a balanced approach to fixing the system by reducing costs to employers and providing more reasonable benefits to injured workers.
With a new governor there are a number of opportunities to shake up the status quo of the Assembly Majority that has stalled much of the reform my conference has advocated. I look forward to the new session and working to implement policies resulting in making New York State a more desirable place to live and work.