These days, our many legislative causes have been somewhat overshadowed by one large cause that is critical to protecting our state’s future economy: creating a better business climate for New York State business. Simply put, New York State businesses are often at a disadvantage: not only are they dealing with the ramifications of an increasingly competitive global climate, but they also are being hit every day with progressively increasing business costs imposed by Albany. While we must accept some of these imposed difficulties as the result of prior decisions made in years past, many of the decisions and increased costs have occurred more recently, such as increased taxes, assessments and fees resulting from recent state budgets. The last legislative session delivered an on time budget with no new added taxes and fees, and this is a significant step. However, we must now begin the work of reigning in our state spending, and reducing the costs of living for New Yorkers.
As we continue to endure this difficult recession and fiscal crisis, it is more critical now than ever to do everything we can to make the climate in New York State as easy as possible for businesses to succeed. This is the only way we can get through these difficult times. With that, I believe if Albany addresses the following business related issues, New York State can become a more viable and attractive place to maintain a successful business:
In order to build on our state’s current strengths and capitalize on our manufacturers and businesses that are already here and operating, we need to retool the Excelsior jobs program. I am encouraged by provisions made in the recent budget concerning the Excelsior program, and hope to see more significant change in the future. While the changes are small, such as the extension of the current tax benefit period from five to ten years, it shows businesses that our governmental leaders see that this program is not perfect, and still in need of retooling. We need additional changes and improvements, such as addressing the limited resources invested in the program or the significant lack of regional input. The current value of Excelsior is estimated to be less than half of the benefit of the Empire Zones program that it replaced. Simply put, that is not enough.
Another area in significant need of attention is the increasing costs of Medicaid. It is essential for Albany lawmakers to restrain the large and increasing tax burdens imposed by Medicaid. New York State Medicaid spending is significantly higher in cost than in any other state. Medicaid spending this year, with the addition of federal increased assistance is slated to be more than $36B, $3.3B or 10% higher than FY09 levels.
As part of continued efforts to reduce spending in Medicaid, MACNY encourages the following:
- First, reduce “medically needy” loopholes.
- Second, lower the “local cap” on Medicaid spending by one-half percent each year, so that the inflation rate paid by individual counties will decrease significantly.
- Third, implement more aggressive fraud prevention and detection programs.
- Fourth, expedite the implementation of disease management programs.
- Fifth, rationalize the hours spent on personal care services. The added costs of home attendant services, such as home shopping, need to reviewed and drastically adjusted.
In order for New York State to regain its financial footing, we all need to work together. Albany needs to help create a sound business climate that allows for job growth. Businesses are ready to invest. What the business community needs is reassurance from the State Legislature and the Administration that they truly are valued in our State and that New York State wants to a partner to aid and not hinder growth.