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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Nation's CEOs still down on NY"
ALBANY, May 19 -- How’s this for an assessment of New York State’s economic climate: “Too many taxes, too much regulation and too much government corruption.”
That was just one comment posted as part of ChiefExecutive.net’s “2014 Best & Worst States for Business,” its 10th annual survey of chief executive officers from across the country (you can read the full survey at http://chiefexecutive.net/best-worst-states-for-business-2014).
Over 500 CEOs responded and graded the 50 states on a variety of measures including taxes and regulations, workforce quality and the quality of the living environment. I wrote not long ago about a recent New York versus Texas dustup between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Rick Perry over which of their respective states had the better business climate. Well, at least according to this nationwide sampling of CEOs, Texas comes in first while New York ranks 49th – just ahead of dead-last California.
Reports like these sure don’t help. At the same time, we’re smart to pay close attention to a group like this one of the country’s key decision makers in business and industry – the men and women making the short- and long-term choices about where to locate or relocate, establish or expand a job creator. For America’s job creators, it’s always more about the right actions than the right words. Ultimately, substance always trumps slogan.
So while we might very well be moving in some of the right directions in New York State – and, in fact, I believe we are – we can’t just keep saying we are. It’s more important to keep doing it. A hangover from decades of overspending, overtaxing and overregulating doesn’t get wished away – sometimes it takes swallowing a few more aspirin. Further proof of that arrived late last week with the state Labor Department’s latest unemployment statistics showing our region squarely in the categories of “losing jobs or no change in jobs” or, at best, “gaining jobs slower than the state rate.”
We need to stay focused on curing a business climate whose reputation remains stubbornly weak, and that’s just what the Senate’s trying to do. The 2014-15 state budget, for example, included important tax cuts that will start to make a difference for an upstate manufacturing sector that remains at risk from high taxes and overregulation. The budget takes steps toward creating a business climate that invites private-sector job growth, welcomes manufacturers and industries, and keeps moving closer to achieving the goal of long-term economic security for workers and their families. Groups like the Business Council, NY Farm Bureau and Unshackle Upstate have praised these moves.
But let’s not forget that last fall the Senate also conducted 10 industry-specific public forums on tax and regulatory reform, including one that I sponsored in Corning focusing on upstate manufacturing. The goal was to identify and eliminate the most costly government regulations that strangle economic growth and drive up local property taxes. 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. We received some straightforward and valuable input on why New York State continues to be overregulated, overtaxed and a tough place to do business, and steps we can take to change it.
Some of these tax relief and regulatory reform steps were taken as part of the 2014-15 state budget. Not all of them, though. In fact a final report the Senate prepared late last year following the hearings (you can find the full report on omara.nysenate.gov) identified more than 2,200 specific rules, regulations and practices that put New York’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
So last week, the Senate got back to work. We approved several pieces of legislation that continue the comprehensive regulatory reform effort still so badly needed in New York State. Last week’s legislation would:
> establish a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) to determine whether the state’s existing rulemaking process results in rules and regulations that are overly and unnecessarily burdensome and costly;
> allow regulated businesses to petition a state agency for the okay to use an alternative, potentially less burdensome and costly method to implement a state rule or mandate; and
> require the state to more fully consider the potential adverse impacts on existing and future jobs and employment opportunities in the rulemaking process for state agencies.
They’re all actions aimed at injecting some common business sense into a state regulatory framework where common sense is still lacking. We’re staying focused on cutting red tape that hurts businesses, large and small, stops Upstate economic growth dead in its tracks and serves as nothing but a roadblock to sustained job creation.
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.
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
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