One of the significant accomplishments in New York this year has been creation of the Regional Economic Development Councils.

The process helped 10 regions across the state to create regional plans and identify transformative projects that will lead to private sector job growth. The plans were submitted earlier this month, and while we wait to see which plans will win funding, we’re turning our attention to make the job creation conditions even better for all business by reforming the regulatory environment.

Our suggestions fall into two major buckets: speeding up approvals for economic development projects and improving the overall regulatory environment.

In the first category, we’re seeking changes to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act. We’d like to see definitive timelines and deadlines established for the review process so that projects can get the go-ahead sooner, allowing faster job creation. As part of this, we want to limit the ability of the state Historic Preservation Office to only request archeological surveys for projects that exceed 25 acres. And we’d like to do more to encourage use of the Design Build method of planning to expedite project timelines.

The second category is more complicated and cuts across more programs.

On the list, we must encourage the use of Public Private Partnerships (P3) to facilitate improvements in the infrastructure of New York by passing S.5445/A.8487 – an act to amend the transportation law, the executive law and the public authorities law, in relation to authorizing innovative infrastructure development.

Second, we must find ways to lower energy costs. We’re calling for the state to allow the Article 18A surcharge on energy to expire, phase out the Systems Benefit Charge and encourage improvements in the utilities’ infrastructures and grids.

Another way to lower costs in this state would be to allow SUNY and CUNY institutions systems to lease space to private companies, a move that would encourage more partnerships.

On the subject of Medicaid, we’re calling for a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice claims. As of 2006, 32 states have already passed some form of medical malpractice caps.

And we believe it is vitally important to obtain unified support from across the state for any federally funded projects that will enhance private sector job creation.

The tax cap is moving New York into a brave, new world, one that will allow our state to prosper and grow. Let’s build on this important first step by enacting the business mandate and regulation relief that will make it all work.