As we take a breather from legislative activity due to the “break” at the Capital, it is a good time to review what has been done and talk about what’s next. Clearly, a lot has been accomplished. We had an early budget that is essentially devoid of tax and fee increases. Significant legislation was passed regarding pension reform , redistricting, casino gaming, teacher evaluations and other large bills. It has been a busy session to date.
So that leads us to ask…what’s next? To get a good answer to that question, we need to look at what hasn’t been done. There has been nothing done to help curtail the regulatory environment in New York. Our business still languish in the 49th worst business tax climate in the country . That has to be a focal point for the remainder of the year. We have advanced a number of ideas that would provide both immediate and long-term savings.
In addition to the regulatory environment, we haven’t addressed the short-term challenges for local government. Yes, we got Tier VI and that was a critical win for taxpayers (we should remember to thank our elected officials that voted yes on the bill). But what about the here and now? What is being done that will help our municipal leaders to provide us with the services we want and need? What is being done to help our schools provide a great education without having to cuts teachers, programs or sports? The answer right now is nothing.
The Mandate Relief Council took a tour of the state and heard from many people about what needs to be done. That Council now needs to produce a report about what they heard and provide ideas about how to fix the issues. But we have already taken care of that for them.
Last year we helped to start Let NY Work. We proposed six items that everyone agreed to will ease the burdens faced by local governments, school districts and taxpayers and will help make our communities affordable again. Only one of those proposals- making the pension system predictable and affordable – is in place. The others are:
- Redefining compulsory arbitration
- Reducing the costs of construction on public/private projects
- Freezing step increases when contracts expire
- Establishing minimum health insurance contribution level for employees and retirees
- And last, but clear not least, prohibiting new unfunded mandates
We call on lawmakers to live up to their end of the bargain by relieving local governments and school districts of unnecessary and costly state mandates. This isn’t a spending and tax issue. It’s about how laws force unnecessary spending.
It’s time to fix those laws. It’s time to give taxpayers what they want…and deserve .