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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Recovering the economy"
ALBANY, Sept. 17 -- The Census Bureau reported late last week that the nation’s median household income declined last year to its lowest level in 16 years. This news about yet another hit on America’s households, especially middle class households, comes on the heels of a federal jobs report in August that fell far below the expectations of most economists and signaled, at best, a disturbingly weak economic recovery.
It all points to the ongoing and deep-rooted stubbornness of this economic recession, throughout which the country’s jobless rate has stayed above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression. And it all points to what must remain the ongoing focus of our legislative efforts here in New York State heading into the 2013 legislative session: getting New York back to work.
In releasing its two-year review of the Legislature late last week, the state’s leading small business advocacy group, the National Federal of Independent Business (NFIB/NY) pointed to many of the positive steps Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have taken over the past two years. But the group also sent a clear and important message that the job’s far from done.
“What’s encouraging about this year’s Voting Record is that it shows a sustained commitment by the Senate Majority and the Assembly Minority to reduce business costs, reduce taxes and improve New York’s economy for small businesses,” said NFIB/NY Director Mike Durant. “There has been progress over the past two years…Their commitment to New York’s small businesses is commendable and as Election Day comes and goes, I would urge them to maintain the focus on reducing New York’s high cost of doing business.” You can read their full report on http://www.nfib.com.
Maintain the focus on reducing New York’s high cost of doing business, says NFIB/NY. I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s the assessment from the upstate New York advocacy group, Unshackle Upstate (http://www.unshackleupstate.com/): “We’re encouraged to see that many legislators have responded to their constituents by supporting two consecutive fiscally responsible state budgets and several pro-taxpayer initiatives such as the 2-percent property tax cap and pension reform…But we still have so much more to do to strengthen New York’s economy.”
And one more while we’re at it, this one from the Business Council of New York (www.bcnys.org): “The pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-growth momentum we saw in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions needs to continue in order for New York to regain its economic strength.”
I was glad to receive a strong nod of support from each of the above groups. It’s always good to receive a reaffirmation that your key commitment and priorities are making a difference.
But the main point, in all of these recent assessments, is this one: don’t stop now. The truth is that Election Day is going to come and go, yet the challenge of a stubborn economic recovery appears here to stay. So New York will need to immediately get back to work, post election, to stay focused on building a better business climate through lower taxes, less state spending, and fewer regulations.
New York needs to keep making smart investments in local economies. I recently had the chance to join Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and the Hornell Chamber of Commerce to announce that the chamber has received state aid to continue a valuable on-the-job-training and placement program aimed at assisting the economically disadvantaged, veterans, displaced workers and the unemployed and underemployed throughout Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties.
As Phil and I noted, state investments like this one in local job training, workforce development and employment placement programs represent a key step in the ongoing and overall effort to strengthen regional economies. The Hornell Chamber has a long-standing, proven track record of utilizing this strategy for finding jobs for local workers and developing a quality, highly skilled workforce for regional businesses and manufacturers. It’s a winning combination and we’re grateful for the opportunity to help the Chamber’s economic development strategy grow, prosper and succeed.
So staying focused on investments like these is important.
And so are ongoing measures to get Medicaid spending under control – especially initiatives to combat the fraud and abuse that has plagued and continues to riddle the system with waste. Just recently we saw the state reach a multi-million-dollar settlement with a New York City hospital for illegal Medicaid payments the hospital received. But this type of Medicaid fraud shouldn’t occur in the first place.
So staying focused on Medicaid reform will remain critical.
And mandate relief.
And, well, you get the picture. There’s a lot of work ahead of us.
But ultimately it comes full circle to the overriding need to keep doing anything and everything possible to control the cost, size and interference of government in order to help get this economy back on its feet.
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