My Budget Remedy: Letís Get New Yorkers Back To Work

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C-Melrose)
March 10, 2011

ďItís about jobs.Ē Thatís the message Iím bringing to the Capitol as we embark on an intense period of debate about the proposed state budget. Lawmakers from across the state have had over a month to read Governor Cuomoís Executive Budget and gather reaction from their constituents. The message Iím getting from our community is clear: itís vital to put good policy ahead of politics. Iíve introduced legislation that is a budget remedy to tackle both our short-term deficits as well as the structural barriers to job growth and reform.

Albany insiders, bureaucrats, and the special-interest groups must understand that years of ďbusiness as usualĒ have driven our economy off a cliff. There is no doubt tough choices are ahead. What those at the table have to realize is that a transparent budget process, with bipartisan, open debate, will lead lawmakers to make responsible decisions.

My New York State Property Tax Cap and Mandate Relief Act has several features, but is focused first on one theme: jobs. This legislation would call for a property tax cap at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower; eliminate unfunded mandates on local governments and school districts; and would require the state to allow counties to opt out of certain high-priced Medicaid services.

My budget-remedy plan also would allow for the voices of our local governments and school districts to be heard loud and clear. Those at the county, town, and village levels have been telling Albany for years that unfunded mandates are killing jobs and raising our property taxes. Now, I want Albany to hear us in unison: If they want it, they must pay for it.

The New York State Property Tax Cap and Mandate Relief Act deserves a fair hearing and a vote on the Assembly floor. Iím also ready to work with Governor Cuomo and other lawmakers to create legislation to provide tax credits and incentives for businesses that hire unemployed New Yorkers. An uncertain tax climate has understandably caused many businesses to put off hiring until the national economy improves. My plan would promote a healthy private sector and would help boost our local economy.

I will continue to look into other areas that affect long-term job growth in New York. Medicaid and mandates are overdue for reform. The Medicaid Redesign Team and the Mandate Relief Redesign Team have both submitted their recommendations to Governor Cuomo. In each instance, the recommendations failed to address the major cost drivers for local governments and school districts.

New York needs to take swift action in addressing the thousands of unfunded mandates imposed on local governments and school districts. We need proposals that have immediate impact, not more vague suggestions. There is no time to spare. Medicaid and mandates greatly affect job growth in our state, and I will work to promote pro-growth, pro-jobs policies as we approach the April 1 budget deadline. Iím hopeful that in the coming days lawmakers from across party lines can come together and complete the work the taxpayers expect from their representatives.