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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Cut red tape, create jobs"
ALBANY, Sept. 2 -- As a kickoff to this year’s observance of Labor Day, a new report released last week, from a labor-backed research organization out of Albany, spoke to the key issue facing communities, governments, employers -- and workers and their families -- throughout upstate New York.
The report’s central finding, in my opinion, was this: Upstate New York’s rate of total job growth has been 1.2 percent over the past four years, while the nation has seen a growth rate nearly three times higher.
It’s not that this latest report stands as any kind of a revelation, because it doesn’t. Those of us who’ve spent lifetimes living, working and raising families in an upstate region like the Southern Tier or Finger Lakes don’t need a new report to tell us what we already know about job losses and their impact on every facet of life in our communities.
But every new report about upstate’s decades-long struggle to reclaim any sort of meaningful and sustained economic foothold in this modern economy does reinforce the reality that it’s not happening. Every new report like this serves up another hard-to-hear but critical-to-know diagnosis.
So as I continue looking ahead in this column at the key challenges facing the State Legislature approaching the start of the 2014 legislative session, this one falls right in line.
Earlier this year I joined my colleagues in the Senate Majority Coalition to call for one of the state’s largest-ever regulatory reform efforts. At that time I said, “Let’s stay focused on the most important job at hand, and that’s turning around the upstate economy. We know that we need to cut taxes, and we’re working on that. We also know that upstate citizens, counties, school districts, manufacturers, small businesses and industries across the board are overburdened with far too many unnecessary state regulations and unfunded mandates.
“It’s time to get rid of the costly red tape that keeps the upstate economy going nowhere and makes New York’s businesses climate one of the worst in America.”
That last sentence still frames one huge challenge facing us: costly red tape that keeps the upstate economy going nowhere. Until we seriously address it, we’re going to keep right on seeing reports about upstate New York’s economic decline.
So early on, the Senate Majority Coalition staked out our intention to identify and eliminate hundreds of costly and unnecessary government regulations that strangle business and job growth and drive up municipal and school property taxes. To kick of this comprehensive regulatory reform initiative, the Senate acted on numerous pieces of legislation to accomplish key regulatory reform and mandate relief goals, including legislation I co-sponsor to end the practice of unfunded state mandates on local governments and school districts.
This specific legislation (S.1294/A.4861), which the Senate approved with strong bipartisan support, would ban the imposition of any future state mandates on local governments and school districts that are not accompanied by state funding to help localities pay for delivering the required programs and services. It sends a common sense, straightforward message: the state’s going to stop passing the buck to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. If the state mandates a program or a service, the state pays for it.
Unfortunately the state’s Democratic Assembly leadership didn’t follow the Senate’s regulatory reform lead and act on this or any of the other Senate-approved regulatory reform initiatives.
So we get back to the drawing board. We start setting the stage now for action in the next legislative session.
That effort gets underway in earnest this September and October when my Senate colleagues and I begin holding industry-specific public hearings across the state to listen to businesses and local officials on which rules, regulations and mandates are the most detrimental and should be eliminated. These public forums will give us the opportunity to listen to the challenges facing various sectors and industries, learn which regulations and state mandates are most cumbersome and, ultimately, put forth specific legislation to help through short- and long-term actions.
I’m grateful that we’ll be bringing one of our statewide hearings to Corning, in early October, to focus on manufacturing.
I’ve said repeatedly -- and sponsored legislation throughout my tenure in the Legislature – that taking steps, like regulatory reform, to revitalize upstate manufacturing is fundamentally important to reclaiming upstate New York’s rightful place in this economy.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869