Our great state is still in the midst of recovery – recovery from an especially trying time in New York politics that rocked common sensibilities of what is right and wrong and how government should operate. This time came during one of the largest tests of American resolve, the great economic recession. Over the last year a decidedly more cooperative tone led to important milestones for what could be the Empire State’s new transformative government.
New Yorkers undoubtedly have many concerns, many centered on their family’s economic security. We passed an on-time budget which closed a $10 billion deficit by reducing spending, not increasing taxes on families and job creators. New York government finally borrowed a page from many residents’ own financial playbooks – living within one’s means and prioritizing spending. We took a stand to secure funding and investment through tax credits, low-interest-loan programs and the recent regional economic investment competition.
The tone in Albany seems to finally have changed. There is a new emphasis on reducing the financial pressures created by taxes and overspending. This work must continue in a frank and honest manner in 2012, leaving no room for slacking on the important business of the people.
Many of Governor Cuomo’s priorities are welcome, if overdue. These include improving our economy and keeping the Empire State affordable for families. Despite these goals, the Governor and I have distinctly different approaches. Some may see this as a difference in ideology, but for me it’s simply a need for transformative change in state policy, which will allow for the growth and progress we all desire.
I am excited about the regional investment that was awarded in late 2011, and I look forward to see how it may positively impact our area with the tech incubator in Marcy and the transformation of the Tryon Youth Facility into a commercial-tech park. Last year we revamped the Excelsior Jobs tax- credits program to more aggressively incentivize the expansion of private-sector jobs. When the governor comes forward with his executive budget proposal in the next few days, we should have a clearer picture of how he intends to recharge the Upstate economy.
I believe there is a better approach to economic recovery which will help all regions of this state and it centers on reforming and lifting the layers of government red tape on our job creators: small businesses, manufacturers and working farms. New York has been chasing private-sector jobs and investment into the arms of our competitors, the more-affordable and cooperative states and overseas countries. These reforms will lead to lasting, transformative changes in our business climate.
Part of economic recovery is providing quality education to everyone, and this is where the Governor can right a historic wrong – the unfair and biased school-aid formula which places our Upstate, rural, lower-wealth school districts at a competitive disadvantage. For Upstate schools to perform as the Governor intends them to, we don’t need another commission to examine the problem: we need swift action to quickly prepare our students for the coming changes to New York’s tech-based economy. This means giving these schools their fair share of school aid. I hope Governor Cuomo will join in the fight for equality for all students.
Finally, New York has become an expensive place to live, and even though property taxes grew faster than inflation, local governments have been forced to cut services and programs throughout the state just to pay for numerous and costly unfunded mandates sent from Albany. The two percent property tax cap further exacerbated this problem. This is where New York can really help by enacting mandate relief and reform this year. There is no time to fall back on lofty promises; results are needed immediately to keep our communities affordable and solvent. I urge Governor Cuomo to make this priority number one for a transformative government.
I am quite confident that New Yorkers are ready for these changes, and I stand with them in working for policies to transform us back into the Empire State. The Governor will have allies in this fight if he chooses to follow through with real government reform.
If you have any additional ideas on how to transform New York State, please share them with me at email@example.com or call me at either my Herkimer office at (315) 866-1632 or at my Johnstown office, (518) 762-6486.