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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Regulations keep upstate economy going nowhere"
ALBANY, Jan. 20 -- Some of you may remember a State Senate hearing in Corning last fall where leading Southern Tier manufacturers and other economic development officials delivered the following message: New York State is overtaxed, overregulated and too expensive.
We’ve opened this year’s legislative session emphasizing the high taxes part of that equation. Last week, the Senate turned the spotlight on overregulation.
Our hearing in Corning last October focused on state mandates, rules and regulations that extinguish any spark for upstate manufacturing growth and job creation. The hearing was one of 10 public forums we held statewide that focused on agriculture, construction, small business, tourism and other key sectors of New York’s economy. It’s all part of an ongoing effort to address a challenge repeatedly highlighted by groups like the Tax Foundation: New York State’s business climate is one of the very worst in the nation, and overregulation is a major reason why.
Last week, we issued our final report. We hope it will help set the stage for one of New York’s largest-ever regulatory reform initiatives this year. You can find the report on my Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov (click on the “Cutting Red Tape to Create Jobs” icon in the left-hand column of the home page). Our original goal was to identify 1,000 regulations for revision or outright elimination. The final report points to more than 2,000 specific rules, regulations and practices that put New York’s businesses and manufacturers, large and small, at a competitive disadvantage.
Of course it’s one thing to keep talking about it and quite another leap to turn the talk into action. So we need to pay attention to the politics of regulatory reform this year too.
In his State of the State message last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for the establishment of a joint commission to jumpstart a comprehensive, statewide regulatory reform initiative, stating, “After years of discussion in state government with no action, the Governor will work with the Legislature to create a joint commission to identify ways to eliminate regulatory barriers that make it difficult to do business in New York State and hinder economic growth.”
But we have to guard against a commission that’s created just to keep discussing regulatory reform, but delaying action on it. I believe the Senate’s comprehensive report, the product of a detailed, bipartisan public hearing process, already provides the necessary groundwork and can serve as a detailed blueprint for quickly joining the governor to move forward on the agreed-upon goal of reducing the regulatory burden for employers and entrepreneurs. In other words, it should allow us to move quickly beyond a fact-finding stage and directly into a decision-making phase.
In Corning, we heard testimony from representatives of several prominent Southern Tier manufacturers, including Corning Incorporated, Dresser-Rand, Nucor and F.M. Howell & Company, as well as leading economic development agencies including Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG) and the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency. Their testimony reaffirmed the absolute importance of revitalizing the manufacturing sector as the key to turning around the upstate economy. We received straightforward input on why New York State continues to be overregulated, overtaxed and a tough place to do business, and specific steps to begin changing it. These recommendations have been incorporated into our proposed action plan (see pages 89-95 of the Senate report).
All told, we’ve highlighted 2,219 specific regulatory burdens that New York State businesses are forced to contend with. It’s difficult to put an exact price tag on the total economic cost of New York’s more than 750,000 regulations. But other recent studies have gauged the negative economic impact of government overregulation.
For example, a 2009 study directly comparable to New York found that regulations in California—a state with a similarly burdensome regulatory structure — cost the Golden State’s economy $493 billion annually, resulting in a loss of 3.8 million jobs and reducing business tax receipts by over $16 billion.
So 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 in New York State and, as I’ve noted recently in this column, we’re working on that. But we also know that upstate manufacturers, small businesses, farmers and industries across the board are overburdened with far too many unnecessary state regulations.
It’s time to get rid of the costly red tape that keeps the upstate economy going nowhere and makes New York’s business climate one of the worst in America.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Tom Gifford, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field. Not pictured: Mike Yuhasz (inactive)
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen, 535-2335
Inactive: Michael Yuhasz
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Gary Whyman, 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 Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869