I don’t mean to be negative. Truth is, I’m more of a glass-half-full type of person.

But even with this week’s announcement of a state budget agreement, I’m not ready to start popping any champagne corks to celebrate Albany’s 2012 accomplishments.

My reservation isn’t about the budget itself. From what we know so far, this is a good, solid budget, one that actually holds spending flat, and closes a projected budget gap without any new taxes or fees and includes strategic investments on infrastructure and economic development which should lead to enhanced job creation. Plus, for a second year in a row, New York will have a budget approved before the April 1 deadline.

For all of these accomplishments, Gov. Cuomo deserves praise for his leadership.

What I’m focused on is how the legislators will choose to spend their time for the rest of this session. Will they choose to push through a bunch of special interest favored legislation? Or will they turn their attention to passing laws that will help all New Yorkers?

I hope it’s the latter, and I have a bunch of suggestions for where they can start. They must turn their attentions to improving the regulatory environment and making New York a more business friendly state.

I’m talking about such solutions as seating the Health Care Quality and Cost Containment Commission so they can go about their charge of reviewing current and proposed health care mandates and conducting cost-benefit analyses.
I’m talking about getting the Assembly to pass a revision of the Wage Theft Protection Act to reduce the unnecessary annual notice requirement on employers.

I’m talking about repealing the 18-A surcharge, increasing the threshold for Wicks Law, implementing the agreed upon medical guidelines for Workers’ Compensation reform, and fixing the State Environmental Quality Review Act to make the process more navigable and predictable for companies looking to operate in our state.

The list goes on, so I won’t get into all of it here. Instead, I’ll suggest you go to take a look at Unshackle Upstate’s 2012 policy agenda and read up on the issues.

I will also tell you that time is of the essence. Gov. Cuomo has declared New York State is “Open for Business.” Now our legislators must take real action and put some meaning and substance behind that declaration. They must work this session to change the many expensive, cumbersome and needless regulations that burden our existing job creators and cause prospective businesses to look elsewhere to expand.

And I will also tell you that it’s not likely any of this will happen unless we, the business community of New York state, stand firm and insist upon it. Tell you legislators, it’s time to Unlock New York.