New York State once led the world in manufacturing, innovation and job creation but today it’s largely propped up by a relatively strong financial services economy based in Manhattan. Recent third-party economic and business analyses have not been kind to New York. Due to our status as the highest taxed and most regulated state in America, the Tax Foundation ranks New York as having the 3rd worst business climate in the nation. The American Legislative Exchange Council ranks New York dead last in the nation for economic outlook. And a recent study conducted for the U.S. Conference of Mayors ranked 10 New York metropolitan areas in the bottom 20 out of 363 for economic growth forecast – Binghamton and Utica were dead last.
Ask just about any New Yorker outside of a few select neighborhoods in Manhattan or Brooklyn and they’ll tell you themselves how they, their neighbor or family member are unemployed or underemployed and how they have anxiety over the state of New York’s economic condition and prospects for the future. Ask any of the 400,000 New Yorkers who have fled the state since 2010 and they’ll tell you they left for better economic opportunities and a lower cost of living elsewhere.
How did we get to this point? The housing crisis and the global recession only tell part of the story. New York State government has been hostile to private enterprise for many years and it has gotten no better – in fact, it’s gotten worse – under Governor Cuomo as the state’s decline steepens.
Despite the millions of dollars in bogus and corrupt taxpayer-funded campaign TV advertisements run by Cuomo, New York is unfortunately not “open for business.” Governor Cuomo’s economic development strategy has too often relied on a mix of crony capitalism, backroom deals and marketing gimmicks.
In his first State of the State address in 2011, Governor Cuomo promised “radical reform” but we’ve seen none of it. By any measure, we’re either treading water at best or outright drowning at worst.
As 30 states and President Obama support natural gas exploration, Cuomo stays mute, refusing to make a decision, and starving economically depressed upstate of tens of thousands of good-paying jobs that have transformed many other states.
As every other state has labor laws that assign fault in worksite injury, New York maintains an 1885 law, known as the “Scaffold Law,” that makes contractors, employers and property owners absolutely liable regardless of evidence of worker negligence.
The Scaffold Law is typical of a hostile and anti-business regulatory environment in this state that’s simply a job killer. Last year a bipartisan Senate regulatory reform group called the regulatory climate in New York, “death by a thousand cuts for businesses and entrepreneurs.” It’s more like 750,000 cuts. That’s the number of regulations the business community must adhere to. And if that wasn’t bad enough they must deal with high taxes and the infamous delays, uncertainty and costs that comes with the New York’s outdated and unaccountable permitting, licensing and contracting process.
An antiquated approach to hi-tech start up ventures is another job killer. California is often as misguided as New York in governing but when it comes to embracing hi-tech start-ups New York could learn a thing or two about leveraging and retaining the brainpower that comes out of our excellent colleges and universities. For example, there are 12,000 members of a San Francisco-based Cornell Alumni Group. Imagine if we were able to retain even just 20% of them and what that would mean for our economy.
And while taxpayer money is being wasted left and right in this state, a universally accepted role of government to help the economy and safety of its citizens – investing in the state’s infrastructure – is being neglected. Recent estimates show that 32% of New York’s bridges are rated deficient; 40% of our roads are rated fair or poor; and 83% of our parks and dams are in disrepair.
The Astorino/Moss Jobs Plan is a straightforward reform agenda to improve the business climate and promote economic growth in New York State. Government doesn’t create private sector jobs but it can establish the climate where private investment flows and job creation flourishes. We did it in Westchester and saw the creation of 30,000 new private sector jobs over four years and we can do the same for New York State by:
- Eliminating job-killing regulations and mandates
- Reducing the tax burden
- Investing in the rebuilding of New York’s deteriorating infrastructure
- Moving forward with natural gas development in Upstate
- Accelerating hi-tech start-up creation
- Modernizing our workforce with the necessary skills and training
- Strengthening our agricultural heritage and economy
1. Regulatory Reform
-Sign executive order on first day instituting a moratorium on any new regulation and a thorough review of the approximately 750,000 regulations currently on the books.
-Adopt the 2,219 regulatory reforms proposed last January and thoroughly vetted by a bipartisan Senatorial working group that conducted nine industry-specific forums across the state. Among the reforms:
- Repeal the Scaffold Law
- Reform the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) by reducing costly delays and redundancies and increasing timeframe predictability.
- Reform the Workers Compensation system to include adopting American Medical Association guidelines and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine treatment protocols to cut down on costs.
-Require agencies to publicly post approval timeframes for permits and licenses and if not adhered to, compensate the applicant for permit and licensing costs.
-Eliminate the incorporation fees for LLCs and Partnerships.
-Allow small businesses with less than 50 employees the option of self-insurance that would allow numerous exemptions from ObamaCare mandates.
2. Tax Relief (a more comprehensive Tax Relief Plan will be unveiled in the coming weeks)
-Reduce or hold flat state spending in each of the next four years to begin to get state expenses and costs under control.
-Make permanent the property tax cap.
-Reduce property taxes and strengthen the effectiveness of the property tax cap by passing mandate relief, including reforms to the Medicaid program and Pension system.
-Repeal hidden taxes on health insurance premiums levied through HCRA
-Eliminate the 18a tax assessment on utility ratepayers.
3. Invest in New York’s Infrastructure
-Start by investing the $3.6 billion BNP Paribas bank settlement money into the most desperately needed repairs to our roads, bridges and mass transit.
-Use portion of BNP settlement money to pay Canal Corporation debt, separate Canal from the Thruway budget and free up money that would otherwise have gone for Canal debt service to pay for infrastructure projects like the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
-Dedicate sales tax revenue from gasoline purchases to pay for investments in roads, bridges and mass transit.
4. Accelerate Energy Development
-Move forward with natural gas exploration and drilling in Upstate.
- Use SBC (System Benefit Charge) funds now at NYSERDA to help pay for the cost of bringing natural gas distribution lines to communities where the service currently doesn’t exist.
-Renew the Indian Point Energy Center license, support Massena in their efforts to be approved for a new plant.
-Alleviate transmission congestion and upgrade the power grid.
-Support other renewable energy sources like Solar, Wind and Hydro and provide grants and low interest loans to farms and businesses that make energy efficient improvements.
5. Accelerate Technology Start-Up Creation
-Offer individuals a state income tax credit to encourage private investing in qualified start-up ventures.
-Streamline the tech-transfer process at state colleges and universities so students and professors can more easily commercialize their inventions.
-Pass a law that bans the enforceability of “non-compete agreements” – keeping more top talent in New York as it would open up greater opportunities for hi-tech workers and entrepreneurs by eliminating unnecessary restrictions on the flow of talent between companies.
-Support entrepreneurial networks with technical assistance to encourage collaboration across communities and organizations that support start-ups.
6. Increase Availability of Skilled Workers
-Create regional councils comprised of local educators and employers to help high schools tailor vocational education programs to match the needs and demands of local employers.
-Make job-training investments directly to community colleges to streamline the training of new workers for local industry needs.
-Increase coordination between community colleges, local school districts and local industry so students can be properly counseled on the present and future availability of jobs, the types of jobs, their pay and benefits, and the skills needed to do these jobs.
7. Strengthening our Agricultural Heritage and Economy
-Create a New York Farmer’s EZ-Pass that eliminates Thruway tolls for New York farm-based trucks transporting farm-to-market products.
-Support the Ritchie/Magee legislation (S.4260/A.6024) that reduces taxes, fees and regulatory burdens on New York’s family farmers.
-Support a pilot program where beginning farmers receive tax incentives to start a farm in New York State.