This week the Empire Center released a report on New York’s Triborough Amendment.  The report goes into great detail about how the Triborough hurts taxpayers across the state, and the economy.  To get down to the basics, the Triborough Amendment basically means that all public employees who belong to unions maintain any perks in their old contracts even when they haven’t negotiated new contracts.  Unions don’t really have to negotiate at all.  For example, unionized teachers still receive “step increases” even when working without a new contract.  A step increase means that a teacher who reaches a certain milestone (years of service, new degree) gets a raise.  This hikes costs by hundreds of millions of dollars a year for local governments, even when unions refuse to negotiate.

Unshackle Upstate sees reform of the Triborough Amendment as a part of significant mandate relief to ease burdens on our taxpayers and, specifically, our schools in 2012.  As part of the joint “Let NY Work” agenda Unshackle Upstate suggests that, at the very least, salary step increases be held when no contract is in place.  It would help even the playing field for union contract negotiations and save millions when negotiations stretch over time.

The Triborough is an important place to start with mandate relief, but it is not a solution by itself.  As the governor mentioned in his State of the State address, pension reform is key in 2012.  Creating a Tier VI Defined Contribution Plan would save the state and taxpayers dollars.  But mandate relief goes far beyond teachers and unions.  We need to spur job creation as well as make our communities more affordable.  In Unshackle Upstate’s 2012 agenda, released today, we focus on the importance of small changes that can have a big impact. 

The Unemployment Insurance “Base Period” currently requires that the original employer pay the Unemployment Insurance for employees who quit, or who accepted and then left another job.  A small reform would save money for businesses across the state and put money into the hands of the unemployed who really deserve it.

The Diesel Emission Reduction Act of 2006 is a mandate that requires all on and off-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles owned or under contract to NYS to use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel and have retrofit technology.  This prohibits smaller businesses from working for the state (since they can’t afford the retrofit tech) and raises contractor prices (so larger businesses can install retrofit tech) making projects more expensive.  If this act was repealed it would lower the cost of construction and put work into the hands of businesses of all sizes.

The simplest change of all could come if the state would finally seat the Health Care Quality and Cost Containment Commission.  This Commission was created in 2007 (over 4 years ago) to review proposed mandated benefits and study costs before the legislator took action.  This Committee has never met.  Maybe they should.

Small changes can make a big difference in New York, and we’re ready for big differences this year.  To learn more about mandate relief and what the Legislator can do in 2012 to lower taxes and create jobs check out Unshackle Upstate’s brand new policy agenda.  Let’s take 2012 and Unlock NY!