Last week, I outlined the many successes from our 2012 Legislative Session - real successes such as another on time State Budget, deficit reduction, pension reform, cutting wasteful government spending, in addition to making long-term investments in better schools, safer roads and regional economic development. I also put those accomplishments into perspective by listing two remaining items of unfinished business that Albany must address: the urgent need for unfunded mandate relief for local governments, school districts and taxpayers, and more private sector jobs fueled by a stronger, more competitive economy.
This week's column will focus on the second half of those remaining challenges - the need for more jobs and more change necessary to transform New York's economy - and list my smart solutions to make it happen. To start, I would like to share some good news on the economic front that shows my effort to move New York forward and reposition our state as a national leader in job creation and building an innovation economy is having a positive impact.
MOVIN' ON UP: NEW YORK RANKS AMONG TOP 10 STATES FOR "GROWTH, PRODUCTIVITY AND LIVABILITY," SAYS U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
A good indicator that we are beginning to see real progress for New York's economy is found in a report recently issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled "Enterprising States: Policies That Produce." The Chamber is the world's largest business organization representing the interests of over three million businesses from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers, to leading industry associations and corporations, as noted on its website.
The Chamber's report ranked New York among the top 10 "performing states," including North Dakota, Texas and Virginia for criteria such as "growth, productivity and livability," which included long and short-term job growth; overall expansion of gross state product; productivity growth, income growth and livability among other factors. Here's what the Chamber's report said regarding New York: "New York is fourth in GSP ("Gross State Product," or the economic output of a state) per job and ninth in per-capita personal income growth in the past decade. Much of this growth has been driven by the rebound in various high-value finance sectors. The state's private colleges and universities also expanded rapidly, adding nearly 55,000 jobs for a rate of growth of 30 percent." You can read the Chamber's report here.
New York cracking the top ten meant our Empire State actually moved up 11 spots in the Chamber's economic performance rankings, largely fueled by GSP expansion and per capita personal income growth. Cut through all the technical jargon and you will see these are positive signs that New York is finally beginning to turn the corner. Bottom line? Our economic recovery is moving from shaky and fragile to solid and strengthening.
CHALLENGES REMAIN: TAXES, REGULATIONS, BUSINESS COSTS
However, the Chamber's report also listed other areas - exports and international trade, entrepreneurship and innovation, taxes and regulation, infrastructure to name a few - where New York did not break into the top 10. These areas constitute many of the remaining critical challenges to our economy and private sector job creation. New York has some of the very best schools, colleges and vocational training programs in the country; our workforce is one of the best educated, well trained and highest skilled in America and our overall quality of life is strong. Unfortunately, NewYork also has some of the nation's highest personal, property and business taxes, the most complex, complicated and costly government regulations and an expensive cost of doing business that makes our state less attractive to employers.
If New York is going to continue making positive strides in terms of its economic performance -and realize its full potential - Albany must get serious about enacting a comprehensive pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda like the initiatives I introduced as part of my "GrowNY" Plan.
MY SMART SOLUTIONS TO MAKE NEW YORK STATE THE DESTINATION FOR MORE JOBS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND NEW INVESTMENT
The following are parts of my GrowNY Plan - each of these bills have already been introduced and, if enacted as one entire package, could be the game-changer New York's economy needs:
- BizBoom (Assembly Bill A.10364): Establish the "BizBoom" business startup program that will cut all application fees for new businesses by 50 percent for the first year, eliminate business income taxes for the first year and reduce income tax rates for the second and third years;
- Division of Regulatory Review & Economic Growth (Assembly Bill A.10419): Create the "Division of Regulatory Review & Economic Growth" (D-RREG), led by a commissioner who has a fixed term, to review and make binding recommendations for the elimination of burdensome, job-killing regulations;
- Mandate Relief (Assembly Bill A.8447): Enact the "Taxpayer Protection and Mandate Relief Act," which includes a State Spending Cap, a moratorium on unfunded mandates on local governments and school districts costing more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide, and places a 2-year sunset date on every law that imposes an annual net additional cost to any locality in excess of $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide;
- Innovators Corps (Assembly Bill A.10445): Develop the "Innovators Corps," which is a four-member division of business experts to identify, recruit and/or retain domestic and international high technology businesses;
- New York State Business Incubator Network (Assembly Bill A.10399): Establish the New York State Business Incubator Network to support the development of academic linked business incubators and to accelerate the growth and success of early-stage companies so important to building New York's innovation economy;
- High-Tech Worker-NY (Assembly Bill A.10359): Provide a Personal Income Tax exemption of up to $50,000 per year for the first five years for new high-tech employees who completed a high-tech training program within the past 12 months (any college, vocational or certification program);
- Invest-NY (Assembly Bill A.10353): Create an Angel Investment Tax Credit to encourage private investment in business. This measure also amends the definition of a Qualified Emerging Technology Company to allow more companies to be eligible for the QETC tax credit and expands eligibility for the NYS Investment Tax Credits to ALL businesses that make new investments in property and equipment in New York;
- Patent-NY (Assembly Bill A.10360): Implement a Personal Income Tax credit for patent fees to ensure NY remains home to the innovative breakthroughs our economy needs;
- Retain-NY (Assembly Bill A.10354): Provide a Personal Income Tax deduction for all interest paid on student loans for taxpayers and increase the current college tuition tax-credit deduction from $10,000 to $13,820 and maximum tax credit from $400 to $553;
- Work-NY (Assembly Bill A.10350): Reduce the tax rate for all manufacturers by 50 percent; provide a 10 percent Personal Income Tax credit for small businesses with incomes less that $250,000. The bill also creates a "Hire-NY" tax credit for businesses for each new job created, and an additional credit if it is filled by an unemployed person or a veteran. Finally, this legislation repeals the Ton Mileage Tax on trucking to alleviate the adverse effect it has on businesses locating fleets or distribution centers in New York State; and
- Shop-NY (Assembly Bill A.10355): Eliminate the State Sales Tax on purchases of gasoline (8 cents per gallon), child car seats, protective helmets, as well as personal hygiene products, including baby diapers, soap and toothpaste.
BETTER... BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NEW YORK HAS NOT SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF ITS TRUE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
After years of recession, is New York's economy getting better? Absolutely. Have we achieved the types of job growth and economic transformation New York needs? Not yet. In fact, I believe we have not even scratched the surface of New York's true economic potential. GrowNY will help us achieve these goals and become the national leader in jobs, productivity, business growth and economic innovation.
NEXT WEEK: Why New York State (still) needs regulatory relief!
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.