With the gridlock in Washington and a rocky national economy, the New York State Legislature has an opportunity this January to lead by example and take charge to stabilize and grow our local economy and communities. The back-and-forth partisan rhetoric at the national level is a barrier to economic progress and growth. Therefore, our Legislature needs to come together and address private sector job growth and a lagging economy to avoid similar pitfalls here in New York.
Some of the most stunning accomplishments in our state’s history have come during difficult economic periods: look no further than last year’s property tax cap, on-time state budget, and Power for Jobs program. The opportunity to improve the business climate in New York State and set the stage to help businesses hire once again has never been more important. Albany must pull the wool from its eyes, step away from its “business as usual” attitude, and pursue a path which promotes, rather than inhibits, businesses and job growth.
The number one way in which Albany can make our state more business-friendly comes down to one word: spending. For years, Albany’s addiction to spending has worsened to the point that political ideology has gotten in the way of good fiscal policy. The political impasses created have blunted nearly any and all efforts to any meaningful analysis of Albany’s spending habits. Now, we learn that the state’s own fiscal projections have worsened. Albany cannot take a step back and tax, fine, and fee its way out of this. Spending cuts must be on the table.
A smaller, leaner, more efficient government will help shrink the cost of doing business in New York and allow employers to do what they do best: create jobs. Albany must spend more time on cutting spending and mandates and less time spending state money that dictates how private sector businesses should operate. A real jobs plan must address spending cuts.
I also will continue advocating for the abolishment of costly job-killing regulations and red tape that Albany routinely imposes on businesses. There are 49,000 pages of them. Our state agencies need to outline in plain English the economic impact of proposed regulations and abolish the back-door borrowing which heaps millions of dollars onto state deficits. The Legislature, working with our state agencies, must reevaluate our corporate income tax, sales tax, and a slate of expensive energy taxes so the middle class can achieve prosperity.
Last year’s state budget was the beginning of true fiscal reform, but with only one percent of the total state budget dedicated to economic development, we still have a long way to go. Albany needs to fix New York’s tax code so it is simpler, fairer, and flatter for everyone. New York’s businesses deserve a state government that sets the conditions for them to compete and allows them to make more decisions with less micro-managing. Albany must focus on its competitive strengths in helping the private sector grow in order for New York to weather a potential double-dip recession.
Even during a time period when our national economy was booming, New York still lagged behind. According to the Empire Center for New York State Policy, New York’s job base grew at just one-fifth the national rate from 1993 to 2008. In the midst of the longest recession since the Great Depression, New York is poised to grow at an even lower rate in the coming years. Our children and grandchildren deserve to grow up and live in a state that welcomes businesses and jobs, not one that closes the door on them. It is my hope during the 2012 legislative session that we lead by example and work to make New York, our families, and businesses stronger and healthier than ever before.