As we begin the 2018 legislative session and work on a new state budget, New York State needs a New Year’s resolution and stick to it to go on a diet from taxation, spending, borrowing, mandating and regulating in order to turn our state’s economy around and truly open the state for business and job creation.
Since 2010, more than 1 million people have left New York State – over 190,000 people in just the past year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New York ranks 48th in the nation for Tax Freedom Day, when people symbolically pay off all of their federal, state and local taxes and start taking home their paychecks to pay necessary things like mortgage, health care, tuition and food.
Any state budget should be built starting with ensuring support for those who are most vulnerable. This week, the minimum wage went up for fast food workers, yet our direct care professionals are still struggling to make ends meet and provide for their own families as they work in very challenging jobs caring for people with disabilities, the elderly and young children. That needs to change in this year’s state budget.
I hope this year, the Governor and Legislature work together in a bi-partisan, non-partisan fashion to pass a budget and a legislative agenda that benefits Upstate residents and we don’t just spin our wheels blaming the federal government for all our woes. The federal government didn’t create New York’s $4 billion projected deficit, give us the designation of worst business environment or as one of the nation’s highest taxed states. New York’s slogan is ‘Excelsior’ for ever upward. We need a new trajectory to take our state in a new direction for a better quality of life for all residents.
Here’s how we can get this done:
· Make the Property Tax Cap permanent, which has saved taxpayers $23 billion across New York State and $344.5 million in the 49th State Senate District.
· Permanently cap state spending at 2 percent, because if we’re going to ask our local governments to only spend what’s in their means than we should expect the same from the state.
· Invest in infrastructure to deal with the lurking monster in our dilapidated underground infrastructure as I’ve called for in my Safe Water infrastructure Action Program (S.W.A.P.) legislation (S.3292/A.3907). S.W.A.P. would provide annual formula-based funding to all municipalities in the state to allow them to identify and swap out old, deteriorating pipes, water mains and gas lines to better maintain the state’s infrastructure.
· Strongly support education to help grow our 21st century workforce and not make our students and schools the whipping boys they were in 2009-10 when state aid was dramatically reduced.
· Enact ‘Jacobe’s Law’ to require schools to inform parents when their children are being bullied (S.1355B/A.8114B). The Senate has unanimously passed this public safety legislation to save lives.
· Be fair to direct care workers who provide compassionate care to our state’s most vulnerable citizens and face enormous pressure to find work elsewhere for better pay and less stress.
· Include Regulatory reform by requiring legislative approval for regulations promulgated by state agencies that often change the original intent of legislation when it originally passed (S.4459).
· Require Transparency for those who take part in Regional Economic Development Councils and a total review of the incentive programs such as Start-up NY to see if they are productive.
· Pass Truth in Spending to protect against legislative quid pro-quos and end political corruption (S.1679).
· Adopt sexual harassment reform.
New Year’s resolutions are only as good as the will and commitment to stick to them. These are some realistic steps our state government can take to truly make New York open for business in 2018 and pass a budget that works for Upstate.