Updated (new Petitions, new Sites); the Growing Coalition and Call for Substantial Mandate Relief, and other news.


 » Did You Know…

New York’s State mandates take your tax dollars out of your local community and limit the ability to provide local services.

90 cents of every county property tax dollar goes to Albany to fund State mandates.

Local taxpayers send $7.3 billion, in weekly installments, to help fund the State’s Medicaid program.

In 2012, counties and the City of New York will send more than $11.5 billion in local revenue to subsidize the State Treasury.

In order to pay for State programs, counties across the State are reducing or eliminating long term care services for seniors (including nursing homes), community health care centers, Meals on Wheels, local law enforcement activities, veterans services programs, and many other community-based services and programs.

Your State Legislators can enact mandate relief to help stabilize property tax dollars and keep more of your hard-earned money in your community for local purposes.

->Contact Your State Representatives: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3

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NY’ers for Local control of Local government

Yet another call to action, with additional initiatives

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Rensselaer County Legislative majority proposes different approach to mandate relief

February 11, 2012 By Katie Nowak Roberts The Record

TROY — Members of the Rensselaer County Legislature majority will file a resolution during the body’s next meeting asking the state to consider giving counties the choice to opt out of certain mandated services that are not federally required.
The push is an effort for the county to control its costs and potentially lower its tax rate, Republican legislators said. Majority Leader Ken Herrington noted that giving counties more control over what optional services they provide is a more feasible request than hoping the state “provides tens of millions of dollars to counties for mandate relief.”
Currently, the federal government requires states to provide some mandated social services, while also giving states a list of optional services they may also elect to provide. New York state has chosen to provide both federally required and optional services, and legislators said it is the only state that requires counties to pay for a portion of the costs of all of them.
Republicans are asking for a so-called “reverse-mandate” where they would be allowed to opt out of some of those  optional services, adding that the state could in exchange require Rensselaer County to apply some of the savings that move generates to tax relief.
Rich Crist, a spokesman for the majority, said that most of these cuts would focus on Medicaid, which he called “the largest and costliest unfunded mandate in the county,” ringing in at about $40 million in annual costs, and contributing to what he called the state’s “Cadillac level of care.” While programs would not necessarily have to be cut completely, Crist said legislators would like the opportunity to “have greater control over how these services are provided and an opportunity to reduce costs while still providing a basic and needed level of care.”


Guest essay: State must offer mandate relief to municipalities (Promotes new initiative – EnoughMandates.Com)

By Mark Westcott The Post-Star | Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mark Westcott is on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. He lives in Queensbury.

The single most important issue facing local government is the issue of state mandates. If local governments hold the line on tax increases, the impact of unfunded or underfunded state mandates on local community services will be severe if there is not mandate relief from the state. Based on current trends, local governments across the state are facing major, negative cuts to community services such as road repair and maintenance (including snowplowing), sheriff patrol, nursing and adult homes, Office of the Aging, libraries and other services deemed to be important by local citizens. This is no exaggeration.

What is an unfunded mandate? An unfunded mandate is when a higher branch of government passes a law, statute or regulation requiring a lower branch of government to perform certain actions, but provides no, or only partial, funding for fulfilling the requirements. In the case of state mandates, local governments like the county, city and towns must find their own funding source in order to fulfill the requirements, i.e. raise property taxes. This is why state mandates are the hidden property tax.

Are unfunded mandates bad? I am not passing judgment on any particular mandate, but the unfunded or underfunded mandates that have accumulated over the decades are not affordable now. The situation is different today. In addition to unfunded mandates, New York continues to reduce the amount of partial reimbursements for mandated services. In New York, the passing of the 2 percent property tax cap was historic legislation, but it addressed only half the equation. Local governments cannot control the growing burden of unfunded mandates. The result will be a variety of responses. Some local governments will pass budgets that include property tax increases above 2 percent. Others will find new taxes and fees to compensate. Some will cut essential services. As time goes on, the trend points to a scenario that if local governments hold the line on tax increases, local community spending will be choked out because of the growth of unfunded mandates. This unintended consequence will not be a good thing for local communities. There needs to be mandate reform.

What is an example of an unfunded mandate? The largest unfunded mandate local governments must pay is for Medicaid. New York places a much higher financial burden for Medicaid on local governments than any other state. In New York, the local share of Medicaid payments is 16 percent of total Medicaid spending; compared to the next highest state California at 2.5 percent (Source: Citizens Budget Commission). In 2012, the Governor’s office estimates the local government share for Medicaid will be $8 billion. This is paid for by property taxes. Now you know why New York has the highest property taxes in the country. New York has been the highest overall taxed state 26 out of the past 30 years. When you look at counties across the U.S., New York has nine out of the top 10 highest county property taxes. (Source:www.taxfoundation.org). Most everyone agrees we can’t take more taxation.

What would you say if 100 percent of your property taxes went to Medicaid? In Warren County your 2011 property taxes paid for more than $13 million of Medicaid payments or 33 percent of your property taxes. Consider yourself lucky. At a recent conference with other counties, I met two county officials who said 85 percent and 100 percent respectively of their county property taxes go to mandated Medicaid payments. That’s right: 85 percent and 100 percent of their county property taxes go to Medicaid! How could this be? The state policy that mandates local Medicaid payments to counties is inequitable. Poor counties and taxpayers pay disproportionately a higher amount for Medicaid than affluent counties. This is not right and it is not how the state pays for other services like the state university and prison systems, i.e. people do not pay taxes based on the number of students from their county who go to state universities or the number of people in prison who are from their county. This should not be the case for Medicaid.

Three points to make while having this discussion:

First, this is not an indictment of Medicaid. Medicaid is an important program and needs to be preserved, but in order to maintain it for future generations, the program needs to be reformed, and paying for it by bankrupting local counties is not responsible. The fact is the program as currently designed is not sustainable. As they say, you can fix it now, or fix it later at even greater cost and pain.

Second, counties and local governments cannot shirk their own fiscal responsibility while working toward state mandate relief. Each level of government is responsible for finding efficiencies and savings in their budgets. We on the local level need to continue working toward finding better, smarter ways to run local government.

Third, just shifting the mandate burden back to the state, while providing relief on the local level, would likely result in increased state income or sales taxes. A “tax shift” from local government to the state with no net tax benefit to people is not helpful. There needs to be meaningful reform of mandated programs so that savings result versus just shifting the tax burden.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has presented as part of his 2012 budget a proposal to reduce the annual growth of the county share in Medicaid expenses and for pension reform. This is an important first step to the mandate relief effort and I urge people to support the governor in his efforts. To further study the issue, Gov. Cuomo has assembled a Mandate Relief Council. “For too many years local governments and school districts have been burdened with growing costs, driving up property taxes and cutting into the delivery of vital services,” Gov. Cuomo said. “My budget already includes billions of dollars of relief to help lower costs for taxpayers and this council will continue to build on that effort to ensure more savings for New Yorkers.” State Sen. Elizabeth Little is a member and we have met to discuss mandate relief. She has been very helpful in generating ideas on how to address the growing problem of unfunded mandates. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward has also expressed her support for mandate relief.

Locally, a group of citizens, businesspeople and elected officials including Tom Hoy, Omar Usmani, Frank O’Keefe, Fred Monroe and other community leaders have been meeting to discuss the issue of unfunded mandates. This nonpartisan group agreed it was important to educate, inform and get people involved in the discussion.

The result is an initiative called http://www.enoughmandates.com/ On this site are facts, research, information and links to other sites that provide information on mandates. We are coordinating efforts with other counties across the state to call on members of the state legislature to support mandate relief. You can help by contacting your state legislator to let them know how you feel about unfunded mandates.

There is one thing that just about everyone agrees on: Mandate relief is essential or local community services will have to be cut and/or local governments will have to raise taxes above the 2 percent property tax cap. It is time for the state legislature to take meaningful action on mandate relief.

Genesee Co Legislature asks for community support on Medicaid petition drive

Howard Owens February 3, 2012 – Press release from the Genesee County Legislature:

Importance of Medicaid Petition Drive. Why should Geneseeans Care?

$9.2 million six years ago was the amount Genesee County was spending for Medicaid. 50% of the total program cost is the responsibility of the taxpayer in New York State which is the same in most of the other 49 States. New York State has the 57 New York counties paying a share of this Medicaid Bill each week which in 2012 equals about 18.5% of that 50% state share.

Six years later, $9.8 million is the dollar amount representing 18.5 cents of every dollar spent for Medicaid that Genesee County taxpayers must fund in the 2012 budget year.

Approximately 7,200 individuals are enrolled in Medicaid in Genesee County. In 2014, the Federal Health Statute (Affordable Care Act) is mandating states to select a health care program for those particular state residents in need of health coverage and eligible to enroll. In New York state the choice has been made, Medicaid will be the primary payor.

Current estimates that there are 5,000 additional county residents eligible for this proposed/expanded Medicaid program. This means an additional 69% increase in Medicaid funding, or in 2012 dollars would mean $6.30 per thousand just to pay the county’s 18.5% of this unfunded mandate.

This is a call to be answered by Genesee County and all New York State residents that have concern to be proactive with their county’s Medicaid petition drive. Blank petitions are available at your town and village offices and once you have obtained signatures return to your town or village hall or local library. Petitions may also be sent to county residents electronically by contacting the Clerk of the Genesee County Legislature, Carolyn Pratt, 344-2550, ext. 2202, cpratt@co.genesee.ny.us


We need as many signatures as possible on a petition to transfer the cost of Medicaid from the counties to the State, who buries us under impossible mandates, ASAP.  Please print up hard copies and take them to work, or do as Ellie did and get 50 signatures by standing in the Boulevard Mall!  You can find it here.
Please gather as many as you can, from anywhere in the State, and mail them to TNY, Box 204, Grand Island NY 14072

In addition to the hard copies, we have created an on-line petition herePlease share it with EVERYONE, not just your fellow Reformers!!  Your one signature is appreciated, but what is really needed, is for you to strap your boots on!  At your keyboard or at the Mall, no matter!

Also 01/27/12:  I got a call today from Annie Lawrence of the Genesee County legislature, to thank me for my help in getting signatures for the Medicaid petition. Since this is so important, they’ve decided to extend the date through February, in order to get this message and petition out to all counties in NY.

The purpose of the petition is to get the state government to take over medicaid from the counties. As it stands right now, just about all of our property taxes go towards medicaid benefits; and the state DICTATES TO US, WHAT WE MUST PAY. If the state takes it over, they will have to reform the system, because the state has a budget cap.

I’m attaching the petition PDF (medicaid_petition ucc-afp) again…PLEASE…. at least get 10 signatures from family, coworkers,
and/or friends, or, if the weather is decent, go to neighbors. I stood in the mall for an hour, and got 55 signatures. If we ever want mandate relief, this is a great place to start, but we need everyone’s help. Thank you,
Ellie Corcoran
(You can contact me at 716-741-1076, or 716-864-2753, or ecorcoran1@roadrunner.com I will make arrangements for pick up or mail)


Fulton Co: Urge property-tax relief

February 12, 2012 The Leader Herald

Not too long ago, citizens in Fulton County and the state received their 2012 county property-tax bills. In New York state, these property-tax bills are far too high because they are loaded with the costs of state-imposed mandates. People need to take notice that state legislators in the other 49 states do not levy such a high burden through unfair property taxes.

Citizens can now use a new online Internet link, mandaterelief.com, to demand property-tax relief from their state legislators. The link has three easy steps that take less than a minute to complete. A message will go directly to the state officials who control about 85 percent of your property-tax bill.

Click on www.mandaterelief.com today.


Chairman, Fulton County Board of Supervisors

State, Local Officials Talk Mandate Relief at Hearing

Governor’s office says relief package would save billions for local governments, school districts.

Glen Cove mayor Ralph Suozzi and state assemblyman Charles Lavine attended a public hearing Friday where Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy met with local officials to review and advance proposals which would reduce the burden of state mandates on local governments and school districts.

“This is the single greatest issue of our financial stability,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “Unfunded mandates have such an effect on the county – our pension costs went up from $94 million to $113 million from 2010 to 2011, and in 2012, it’s $160 million. We’ve managed to absorb and reduce costs to avoid passing on a tax increase, but we need help to fix this issue.”

Mangano also cited other unfunded mandates in 2012, such as the $250 million for Medicaid and $175 million for the Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

“These are good programs, I think we can agree on this,” he said. “The savings from New York State are welcome relief.”

“We’ve spoken about this before with various state organizations,” Suozzi said after the meeting. “Everything we’re talking about applies to Glen Cove.”

The mayor became familiar with the effects of mandate costs over the course of preparing the city’s budget for 2012. Pension costs mandated by the state increased by $1 million and health insurance costs went up by about $500,000, amounting to a $1.5 million, 6.6 percent increase just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s two percent property tax increase cap took effect.

Suozzi and the Glen Cove City Council were able to adopt their 2012 budget by absorbing the costs of public employee pensions and healthcare through staff reductions which saved $550,000, as well as $100,000 in cuts at the Glen Cove Senior Center and lowering debt service payments.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine sits as chairman of the assembly’s Administrative Regulation Review Commission.

“The need for mandate relief in New York is compelling,” he said. “The neighborhoods I represent are in a county infamous for collecting the second-highest property taxes in the state. I look forward to seeing these relief programs not only lowering property taxes, but also reaffirming New York as a great place to raise a family or start a business.”

The hearing was also attended by state senator Carl Marcellino, who said he hoped for fast action on the part of the mandate relief council.

According to the governor’s office, the proposed relief package would provide billions of dollars in savings to local governments and school districts, and would include Medicaid relief, pension reform and early intervention and preschool education reforms.

Related Topics:Unfunded Mandates, mandate relief council, and state mandates

County executives share Medicaid concerns

Times Herald-Record Published: 2:00 AM – 02/22/12

POUGHKEEPSIE — Ask the Orange, Ulster and Dutchess county executives what they want most to fix and the answer was unanimous Tuesday — Medicaid..

Diana concurred, but was skeptical about seeing any action in Albany during an election year because counties can’t wait too long. Medicaid reform, along with pension reform, must happen, Diana said, “or you will bankrupt every county in the state.”

Molinaro, a Republican who previously served in the state Assembly, predicted that body’s Democrat majority will be the most difficult to get on board with Medicaid reform…

Local leaders discuss mandate relief at NYSAC conference

Mandate relief was once again the hot topic at last week’s New York State Association of Counties conference in Albany.

“That was the biggest thing on the agenda — how we’re going to get the public riled up and get state legislators to support mandate relief,” said Lewis County Legislature Vice Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, who participated in a panel discussion on the topic Wednesday.

“Throughout the whole conference, there was a lot of discussion on mandate relief,” St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said. “Mandates are really the cost drivers.”…

Counties keep pressure on state for mandate relief

February 3, 2012 By Tom Rivers trivers@batavianews.com The Daily News Online

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have heard the message from county leaders throughout the state, that the local governments need relief from shouldering some of the state’s mandated programs.

Cuomo has proposed a three-year gradual phase-in to cap the counties’ share of the Medicaid program. The counties are currently capped at a 3 percent annual (medicaid) growth rate, but county leaders say that stresses their budgets and puts them on pace to exceed the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap…

Astorino calls for immediate relief on state mandates

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said the county’s ability to provide local services will remain seriously threatened unless Albany takes immediate steps to rein in unfunded mandates…

Cayuga County would welcome state takeover of Medicaid cost hikes

Here again the tax cap in of itself just doesn’t cut it…

Chautauqua Co Exec Edwards: Immediate Relief Needed

State Budget Savings Are Far Off

MAYVILLE – The impact of Albany’s mandates on counties isn’t going away any time soon, it’s just not going to increase all that much. Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed ideas for relief in his 2012-13 budget proposal on Tuesday. County leaders were relieved to hear issues such as Medicaid and pension reform being talked about by the state’s leader.

However, ideas mentioned by Gov. Cuomo don’t look to translate to any immediate cost-savings for counties. In fact, the cost of Medicaid, for instance, will still increase for counties in 2013 and 2014 under the governor’s proposal – just not as much as counties were expecting…

Pressure Mounts on Medicaid Cap

January 26, 2012 Russell Sykes

Just-released November data indicate that Medicaid spending was within Governor Cuomo’s new cap through the first two-thirds of fiscal 2011-12 — but just barely.

The $15.3 billion cap on state-funded Medicaid spending within the Department of Health (DOH) was a hallmark of Cuomo’s budget control and reform for fiscal 2011-12. Future annual growth is supposed to be limited to the 4 percent average rate of medical cost inflation over the last 10 years.


Fulton County – Officials say Medicaid relief a start 

Cuomo’s Medicaid plan draws mixed reviews – Some say state mandate relief should still go farther

Saratoga County officials – Mandate relief included in Gov. Cuomo’s state budget proposal falls short   BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County supervisors are saying the mandate relief Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed Tuesday is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to providing any sort of meaningful relief for the county or its residents…

With budget deals, state wipes out long-term deficits  (or least that’s the assumption)

Giving credit where credit is due – By cutting out the built-in growth factors for state programs, Cuomo has changed the state’s accounting of its budget deficits, said E.J. McMahon, senior fellow for the conservative Empire Center for New York State Policy.

“He appropriately made the projections more realistic by removing escalators for Medicaid and school aid from his assumptions,” McMahon said.

But McMahon also said, “That reflects a new set of assumption: He binds and disciplines the Legislature to those levels.”

McMahon said the state is also delaying some payments, such as borrowing off the pension fund to pay for growing costs for retirees. And budget projections have sprung holes in recent years…

Unfair Medicaid Costs

Report Calls For A New Way To Pay

December 30, 2011 By Nicholas L. Dean (ndean@post-journal.com)

NEW YORK CITY – Medicaid is costing counties in the state too much, according to a recent report by the Citizens Budget Commission.

The report is titled “A Poor Way to Pay for Medicaid: Why New York Should Eliminate Local Funding for Medicaid.” In the report, the Citizens Budget Commission describes the inequity found throughout the state on a county-by-county basis.

According to the findings, Medicaid costs are shown to be not only inequitable and out of step with efforts to control costs in the program, but also out of line with practices in all other states. The Citizens Budget Commission is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The group’s report researched the financial and management practices of the state of New York and New York City.

County Executive Greg Edwards shared the report in his Monday Morning Memo on Dec. 19, pointing to its finding that counties with less income, such as Chautauqua County, get punished disproportionately in the cost of programs such as Medicaid when compared with counties having greater wealth and per capita income.

The full report, as well as other additional information, can be found attached with this article online at www.post-journal.com.


[View the full file here: infographic describes visually the effects of this long-standing problem.]


In a news release announcing the report, the Citizens Budget Commission pointed to the $6.5 billion paid for Medicaid by New York’s counties in 2008. The next state closest to New York in terms of county costs for Medicaid was California, where a total of $1 billion was spent that year.

Elsewhere in the country, a total of 22 states require no local contribution for Medicaid at all.

Of the 27 states other than New York which require a local share, most require localities to pay only for administrative costs or some other minimal contribution.

“New York’s current local Medicaid burden is regressive and inequitable,” according to the Citizens Budget Commission. “Taxpayers in low-income counties tend to pay more towards Medicaid per person and relative to their wealth than taxpayers in more affluent counties.”


To make comparisons more directly relevant to individual taxpayers, the Citizens Budget Commission has created an online tool which allows New Yorkers to estimate average local Medicaid costs according to their home property value and to compare costs in their county to those required in neighboring counties. The Medicaid calculator is available online at www.cbcny.org.

“It’s time for the state to face up to the difficult issue of finding statewide revenues to replace the regressive system now used to pay the local portion of Medicaid costs,” said Carol Kellermann, Citizens Budget Commission president.

The Citizens Budget Commission was founded in 1932 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic organization devoted to influencing constructive change in the finances and services of the state and New York City governments.

Proposals Fail To Pass Assembly

From Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb: “From what has been reported in the media so far, the bottom line is that taxes are being raised in New York State and we are still not dealing with our state’s serious spending problem. There is still no significant unfunded mandate relief for local governments. We should be protecting taxpayers by capping local Medicaid costs, enacting a state spending cap and doing this through an open, public process where these issues are debated and discussed in the light of day, not through secret deals behind closed doors by three-men-in-a-room. Tax hikes have never been the answer for creating more private sector jobs and long-term prosperity for New Yorkers. That still holds true today.”

From Assemblyman Steve McLauglin: A family making $100,000 will see $400 more per year or $33.33 per month. Less than the cost of a tank of gas. You are being scammed if you believe this is a serious tax cut. None of the three have the guts or fortitude to address New York’s out of control spending problem. I’d have more respect for them if they’d have kept the current tax structure. At least that structure would’ve raised the revenue needed to close the gap. They chose the smoke and mirrors route and a change that will not close the existing budget gap.

The reality is that the underlying problem — too much spending, unfunded mandates on localities (unreasonable medicaid costs) pension benefits — have not been resolved. The changes that Larry, Curly and Moe agreed to, do not resolve the problem, yet they have proven one thing: Their word means absolutely nothing. No matter how they sell it, taxes are going up to the tune of $2 billion dollars, money that could be used to create jobs.

Everything you need to know about Cuomo’s Tax Hike

https://i1.wp.com/newyorklibertyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Empire-Center.jpgOn Dec. 6, 2011, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a deal to extend New York’s biggest income tax increase in 50 years, targeting earners of $1 million and more for what will be the third highest income tax rate imposed by any major state. About one quarter of the $2.6 billion tax hike will be redistributed in the form of tax cuts for middle-class filers, and the rest will be spent. This page, which will be continuously updated, features Empire Center commentary and analysis on this topic.

Next is a good example of what is going on, or needs to be going on, in several counties, including fellow Western NY county of Chautauqua. Privatizing county nursing / county homes, for the sake of the taxpayers for whom it’s costing millions in losses.

Catholic Health proposes county nurse privatization

January 20, 2012 By Bill Wolcott The Tonawanda News

— Niagara County is getting out of the nursing care business and is prepared to accept a bid which would net Niagara County’s taxpayers $2.65 million.

The Niagara County Legislature will hear proposals to privatize nursing care at the Community Services and Administrative Committees meetings at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the County Courthouse on Hawley Street.

The lawmakers are expected to act on a recommendation by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz and Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton to sell the county’s home healthcare certificate to Catholic Health. The proposal has been endorsed by Community Services Committee Chairman Tony Nemi, I-Lockport/Pendleton.

“We got out of the long-term healthcare business to save money. It was a loser for us,” County Chairman Bill Ross said. “It’s not only to save money, but make some money.”

The health department has the full-time equivalent of 12 employees who work out of the Shaw Building on the Mountview Campus and the Trott Center in Niagara Falls. There were about 20 full- and part-time registered nurses and home health aides. Some left through attrition.

Catholic Health Services will offer employment to all the employees. “Any of the nurses that don’t have a job, they will hire,” Ross said.

“It’s a big deal,” Stapleton said. “The health department will continue to thrive and focus on mission, which is protecting public health.”

Five competitors bid on the certificate, including Niagara Hospice which initially offered $3.7 million but dropped out. Catholic Health offered $2,600,000 and VNA offered $2,500,000 with a down payment of $250,000. Catholic Health made an immediate down payment of $795,000.

“It’s going out of the public hands of the county to save you and me money,” Ross said. “It will save money, because we won’t have those people on staff … We are selling it. It’s a sellable item. We are looking at quite a bit of money.”

“We’re getting out of the businesses we shouldn’t be in,” Ross said. “Before we shut down Mount View, we were losing a million dollars a year.” …

Next up, something needing repealed for some time, and at this point enough is enough. No matter how much the Public Unions object, repeal this now !

Triborough Trouble

How an obscure state law guarantees pay hikes for government employees

Complete report in PDF format

January 11, 2012 What you’ll learn from this report:

  •  * New York’s 30-year-old “Triborough Amendment” requires public employers to maintain all contractual perks for unionized public employees, including automatic “step” increases in pay, after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.
  •  * This law gives unions an incentive to resist negotiating structural changes to their contracts, since the status quo will be preserved even if there is no contract.
  •  * Pay hikes required by the Triborough Amendment cost the state government $140 million a year, despite a “freeze” on base salaries.
  •  * The Triborough Amendment guarantees pay increases for teachers that add almost $300 million a year to school budgets across the state.
  •  * The requirement to finance automatic pay increases has undermined attempts to stretch taxpayer dollars further in a time of extreme financial stress.
  • Repeal of the Triborough Amendment would establish a more equitable collective bargaining system in New York’s public sector, preserving basic union rights while giving local officials the tools they now lack to negotiate needed changes to costly and outmoded contracts.
  • MORE…

Related Publication:

Repealing New York’s Triborough Amendment is

‘Core Reform Issue in State’

For Immediate Release
Contact: Bill O’Reilly, 212-938-0004

New Yorkers for Growth Challenges Governor Cuomo, Legislative Leaders, and
Legislators to Make Positions Clear on Repeal of Law

New York, NY-Jan. 19…New Yorkers for Growth , a leading voice for responsible fiscal policy in New York State, today announced its chief legislative priority for 2011: repealing New York’s Triborough Amendment which has unfairly added millions of dollars in extra costs to state, county, and local governments, the group says.

The Triborough Amendment, which was enacted in 1982 as an amendment to New York’s Taylor Law, prohibits a public employer -the taxpayers – from changing any provision in an expired labor contract until a new contract is signed. In other words, it’s rigged: it guarantees built-in pay increases and benefits for unionized public employees in perpetuity if a new contract is not signed. That removes any incentive for public service unions to negotiate, guaranteeing that any new contract be more generous than the last.

“Repeal of the Triborough Amendment is an essential first step for fiscal reform in New York State,” said New Yorkers for Growth spokesman, former Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. “We have a rigged system in New York with the public service unions holding all the cards. New Yorkers for Growth strongly urges the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to repeal this ridiculous law.”

New Yorkers for Growth urges Governor Cuomo to take the leadership role in repealing the Triborough Amendment:

“To his credit, Governor Cuomo has said he is willing to take on the public service unions to save this state and its local governments from fiscal insolvency,” Ms. Feld continued. “But that cannot happen with the union-biased Triborough Amendment in place. We therefore urge Governor Cuomo to make clear his support for repeal.”

To learn more about New Yorkers for Growth, please visit www.newyorkersforgrowth.com.

 Click to contact your Reps, tell them to support this effort.

Thanks to your support, our efforts are beginning to pay off. Triborough Amendment repeal is now very much on the radar in New York.

Already this week, we have seen the issue debated in three major New York newspapers: by New Yorkers for Growth-endorsed Rob Astorino in the New York Post, the Empire Center’s Russell Sykes in the Buffalo News and by columnist Bill Hammond in the Daily News. Here are the links to all three articles:

New York Post: Labor Law is Choking NY’s Governments

by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino

Buffalo News: Drop Triborough Amendment to Control Expenses 

by Empire Center for New York State Policy senior fellow Russell Sykes

New York Daily News: Cuomo Must Break Public Union’s Grip Over New York 

(How public workers rig the game) by Bill Hammond

For more on union issues, jump below…

Meanwhile, on the mandate relief front

E.J. McMahon Jan 17, 2012

Governor Cuomo’s 2012-13 budget, to be presented later today, will command media attention for the rest of the week. Advance reports on his modified pension reform proposal are especially promising. Meanwhile, there’s a (fiscally) cost-free approach to helping local governments and school districts alleviate their budget problems: repealing the Triborough Amendment

Just so you know, it’s 2012 and here we go again:

FYITax Freedom Day Arrives on April 24 in New York, ranking us one of the worst again, and again, and!!!
Tax Freedom Day is the day when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. In 2011, New York taxpayers work until April 24, ranking it 3rd highest in the nation.
New York’s State and Local Tax Burden Second-Highest in Nation, again, and again, and!!!
During the past three decades, New York’s state and local tax burden percentage has ranked among the nation’s highest, currently estimated at 12.1% of income (2nd nationally), above the current national average of 9.8%.

Now if that didn’t rile you up, this surely ought to:

Pay NY lawmakers more? (Assembly Speaker Silver wants what, no way. Hey Shelly, why don’t you read that little tax day piece above, and the last line below. You really want to make these things worse? Well sure you do, cause that’s what happens when you are no reformer, but rather are a part of the problem!)

E.J. McMahon January 23, 2012

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may seek a pay hike for members of the New York State Legislature before the year is out, today’s New York Post reports.  New York part-time lawmakers now make a base salary of $79,500 a year, plus $171 for every day in Albany and added stipends for leadership positions and committee chairmanships. The speaker’s own pay is $120,000 plus expenses.

As of 2011, New York’s legislative compensation was already the third highest of any state. For details, see our Data Bank here.

  • Should NY lawmakers give themselves a pay raise?  ALBANY — It’s a fact. New York State lawmakers haven’t had a pay raise in the last 13 years, not since 1999 (yet they are still the 3rd most compensated body nationally). If they don’t vote themselves a pay raise this year, they’d have to wait at least another three years. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he thinks lawmakers deserve more money. According to US Census data, the real median household income was $49,445 in 2010. The base salary for New York State legislators is $79,500, but with extra pay such as for chairmanships, they average just over $90,000. Speaker Silver said, “Well, obviously it’s never a good time to make the case and I’m not making the case. I am saying that members work hard, many of them are full time legislators.” (No, at the same base pay, all are either full time or all are part time). Assembly Majority Leader, Ron Canestrari (D), does not think that they are underpaid. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) has served 30 years in the legislature, has never voted for a pay raise, and says he never will. Tedisco said, “If the legislature wants a pay raise, just like they go before the voters to be reelected, a pay raise should be out on the ballot.” Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, said the pay raise issue has not been discussed in the senate.

In the following segment, here is but one example of that which is true in about every county: The pay cut of just 5%, to just 64 county employees, saves the tax payer $385 thousand. That’s wonderful but that’s just non-union workers so consider a 5% cut across the board for all county employees (which would be fair), now the tax payer saves $? millions! (The sad thing is in many cases, not only are the 100’s of county union workers seeing no cuts, they’re probably getting automatic increases.)

By: YNN Web Staff

BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. — After less than one month in office, Broome County Executive Debbie Preston is putting forth a resolution that would fulfill one of her campaign promises.

Preston’s proposal would cut the salary of 64 county employees by five percent. The total savings to the county would be more than $365,000 this year alone.

The county legislature will vote on the measure Thursday night and if passed, the pay cuts will take affect later this month.

Preston says cuts like these are just part of the larger task of getting the county on track financially.

“This is just the beginning. We will look at every penny that is spent and every budget line. Things are going to be done differently. They have to be done differently,” Preston said.

The proposed cuts will account for approximately one tenth of a percent of Broome County’s $360 million budget.


Tracking firms, jobs and economic growth in the Empire State

Complete report in PDF format (updated)

Executive Summary

Employment statistics are the leading indicator of what’s happening in New York State’s economy. However, traditional government job counts don’t tell us much about the underlying dynamics of job creation. Information on openings and closings, expansions and contractions, and interstate movements by employer “establishments” in New York has not been as readily available – until now.

This report draws from the newly developed National Establishment Time- Series (NETS) Database, generated from the Dun & Bradstreet Marketing Information file, to assess some of the key trends driving employment in New York from 1993 to 2008. During the period in question, our data show:

  • New York’s job base grew at just one-fifth the national rate.
  • New York gained 272,172 jobs from firms moving into the state while losing 393,280 jobs from relocations of firms to other states. As a percentage of total employment, New York’s net job migration loss was the third largest of any state. Many of these positions moved to neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • New York lost 506,620 more jobs to firm closures, or “deaths,” than it gained from firm start-ups, or “births.” The Empire State’s nega- tive ratio of job creation from start-ups was a key factor in its rela- tively weak overall employment growth during the period. Only five states performed more poorly in this category.
  • Expansion of existing firms was the leading source of employment growth in New York, creating a net 1,000,881 more jobs than firm contractions—but this wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the state’s job migration losses and its failure to nurture more start-ups.
  • Small establishments, including the self-employed, accounted for a growing share of New York jobs, but the Empire State nonetheless lagged behind most states in job creation by small firms.

Total Jobs – NY ranking only one shy of dead last:

From 1993 through 2008, New York added just 442,682 jobs to a base of almost 10 million at the start of the period. The Empire State’s 4.6 percent job growth rate, as counted by the NETS database, was just one-fifth the national average during the period. Only one state, Rhode Island, had lower growth rates by this measure.

And here’s a real important snapshot; bottom line, bad policy and bad results –

* See table 1.2: shows in part; Public Admin jobs (State gov) increasing by 23.2%, and Manufacturing jobs decreasing 28.4%, while mining- quarrying- oil & gas extraction decreased 40.1%

Hey, at least we beat New Jersey

January 26, 2012

Tim Hoefer

New York’s ranking in the Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index is second to last, just ahead of New Jersey.  Our climate ranked 49th — second worst — in 2011, and we’re 49th again in the new index.  California was ranked just above New York at 48th.

The state’s business tax climate didn’t improve in Andrew Cuomo’s first year as governor, according to the Tax Foundation. To the contrary: while our overall ranking didn’t change, New York’s index “score” actually declined, thanks to the December 2011 income tax increase pushed through by Cuomo under the guise of “fairness reform.”



a cutting-edge quarterly magazine on
culture, politics, and urban affairs.

Christian Schneider
It’s Working in Walker’s Wisconsin

The governor’s controversial labor reforms are

already saving taxpayers millions.

Steven Malanga interviews Christian Schneider about his recent City Journal article and Governor Walker’s successful strategies that made reform in Wisconsin possible.

Listen to their discussion.

* In NY the answer is very simple: Public Sector a/k/a Government Unions are stronger and more dominant in NY than in any other state in the country. *see Table 3

** Another simple answer: The political implications and donation money whereas everything flows left. 90+% of  gov unions’ money going to democrats for the sole purpose of self perpetuation, always resulting in more government. *see Table 5

Storm Clouds Ahead: Why Conflict with Public Unions Will Continue, a new issue brief by Daniel DiSalvo, argues that the repeal of SB 5 in Ohio is not a referendum on the terms of public sector employment but rather the latest in a series of ongoing conflicts that will arise between governments and public-employee unions.

NY union bigs take heat over junket

By CARL CAMPANILE and DAN MANGAN Last Updated: 3:34 AM, December 7, 2011

It was rainy and chilly in New York City yesterday, but hundreds of local union bigs wouldn’t have known it.

As many as 300 labor bosses, who represent New York’s struggling municipal workers, have been whooping it up in sunny Puerto Rico on a union-paid junket, even as their rank-and-file members pinch pennies back home.

The honchos are on a six-day, fun-and-sun jaunt in San Juan — on their cash-strapped memberships’ dimes — preferring to host their union “convention” in a posh hotel instead of, say, more modest digs in stodgy Schenectady.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” fumed an Albany insider about the New York State Public Employee Conference’s annual frolic at the luxurious Caribe Hilton.

“It’s piggy, piggy, piggy! It’s pigging out in Puerto Rico! Then they come back to New York with their hands out.’’

Two Brooklyn politicians who sit on statehouse committees that oversee public-sector workers — Sen. Martin Golden (R) and Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D) — even held fund-raisers there, The Post has learned.

The gigs were attended by the same union officials who often appear before their committees pleading their members’ cases.

NYSPEC is comprised of unions representing thousands of state, local and other government workers, most of whom work in New York City. They include MTA workers, Port Authority police officers and NYPD captains.

The sun-soaked union bosses yesterday defended their jetting to warmer climes.

Speaking of climate issues (and bad policy) –

An initiative “proves is an impractical government policy”, and of course the main reason being the ineffective and wasteful cost to taxpayers. That said, why doesn’t the government listen? 

The High Cost of Wind Energy as a Carbon-Dioxide Reduction Method

A new Issue Brief by Manhattan Institute senior fellow, Robert Bryce, finds that wind energy’s ability to reduce CO2 is so insignificant and so expensive that it proves an impractical government policy.

and finally a word on pensions:

If you were a public employee, what would your pension be?
CalculateYourPublicPension.com launched, find ou now.

Learn More and Take Action Now!

The cost of public pensions is about to blow through the roof, with financial consequences that could affect generations of New Yorkers to come. And it’s not just pensions: state and local governments have promised over $200 billion in post-retirement health care, but set aside no money to pay for it. To learn more about the problem and take action:

The First Priority in the New Year: Pension Reform

Policy Brief (pdf)

January 2012

Lobby Day in Albany Wednesday Jan. 18th, 9-5 ~ Unfunded Mandate Relief

Unfunded Mandate Relief ~ Lobby Day in Albany Jan. 18

Posted by Raquel (Ulster-Orange) on Jan 11th, 2012 and filed under Political Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


Important Message from Lisa Thrun of Americans for Prosperity (NYS and Niagara County)

Hello Everyone!

This year is full of many challenges, not only in our state but also in our counties, towns, and school districts.

Number One on Albany’s agenda should be unfunded mandate relief. The legislature must reduce or eliminate the regulations that require local governments to perform certain actions or provide specific services without funding or with very little. However recently, the governor quietly released a final report of the Mandate Relief Redesign Team without any fanfare or even a press release. The team’s report was underwhelming at the least (even to the team), not addressing the largest burdens to taxpayers; Medicaid, Triborough Amendment, and the Wick’s Law.

School districts and local governments are in desperate need for reforms NOW!

The Upstate Conservative Coalition (Capitol Region) along with their many partners around the state have planned for a Lobbying Day at the Capitol:

Unfunded Mandate Relief Lobby Day at the Capitol

Legislative Office Building, Albany

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 / 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

We are currently awaiting confirmation on holding a rally in The Well of the LOB at 9:30 am with several elected leaders.

Taxpayers across the state are invited to join us as we send a message to Albany that unfunded mandates must go! Please make appointments with your legislators prior to next Wednesday. Talking points will be available in the Well where we will meet.

Organizers and representatives from taxpayer groups across the state have appointments to meet with some Assembly Members and Senators. A representative from each organization is invited to join us for these meetings. Please notify us ASAP if you plan on attending these meetings. Please include what group you are representing and the county you are from. You can send the info to lthrun@afphq.org or thomasjcavanagh@yahoo.com.

The UCC has put together some information on mandates. Go here to learn more.
Our friends at the Empire Center for NYS Policy released today a report called Triborough Trouble. You can also read up on the New York State’s Property Tax Cap: A Citizens Guide. Remember–if taxpayers vote down their school budget twice—the tax level reverts to the following year’s levels—-a 0% increase. No more contingency budgets!

If you cannot make it to Albany, we encourage you to call, e-mail, or make an appointment with a staffer in your Senator and Assembly Member’s local offices. Write a letter to the editor in your local newspapers and help bring attention to these costly, job-killing mandates. More importantly, tell Governor Cuomo we need mandate relief NOW! You can call him and leave a message at 518 474-8390.


Lisa Thrun, Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity Foundation

New York Chapter, Grassroots Chair



AFP NY on Facebook


Breaking News: Genesee County Legislature has launched a petition drive – State, take over Medicaid. Madison and Rensselaer Counties too.

Genesee County

Legislature drive urges state to take over Medicaid costs

Buffalo News Staff Reports

Published:January 12, 2012, 12:00 AM

BATAVIA—The Genesee County Legislature has launched a petition drive “for all concerned citizens, taxpayers and beneficiaries to sign” to persuade New York to take over all Medicaid costs.

Petitions are available at City Hall, the county Motor Vehicle and Legislature offices, and all town and village offices. They demand action on Senate and Assembly bills that would end local growth in Medicaid costs and have the state take over the entire county share by 2019.

This year, Genesee’s appropriation for Medicaid benefits is $9.87 million, 38 percent of the local property tax levy. The local share goes up 3 percent each year.

The New York State Association of Counties is leading a statewide effort to get co-sponsors for the bills and convince the governor that “real mandate relief—Medicaid reform—can and will be achieved only with the state takeover of local benefit costs.”

Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock is current president of NYSAC.

The goal is to have legislation in place during the upcoming Albany session and make it part of the 2012-13 state budget to be adopted by April 1.


From NYSAC: Counties Advocating for Mandate Relief

Did you hear that? It’s another county calling for mandate relief.

This week, Genesee and Madison counties launched initiatives designed to engage residents in mandate relief efforts. Genesee County, led by Legislative Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock (NYSAC President), started a petition drive for citizens to urge State leaders to enact mandate relief through a State takeover of county Medicaid costs.

The Madison County website is headlined by a call from Chairman John Becker to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo to encourage him to “Remove the Medicaid Burden from Madison County Property Taxes.” (http://www.madisoncounty.org/)

Late last month Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino launched a new website designed to encourage county residents to urge Governor Cuomo and State Lawmakers to “Stop Mandates Now.” The site (www.rensco.com/execoffice_mandaterelief.asp) localizes the fiscal impact of the 9 State mandates consuming 90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide, and provides an easy way for residents to contact State leaders.

Join the chorus. Ask your county colleagues, business leaders, community groups and homeowners to call on Governor Cuomo and your State Senator and Assemblymember to get on the Mandate Relief bandwagon. The time for talk in the State Capitol is over. The time for action is now. (Mark LaVigne)




Enough is Enough – NYS-County Medicaid Boycott

Background (Preamble):

Target: Your County Governments and New York State Government
Message:The cost of the Medicaid is out of control. The financial burden of the program is placed on County’s and ultimately being shouldered by property tax payers.The State must take action to take financial responsibility for the program in an effort to lower property taxes in New York State.

Until the State takes responsibility for this burdensome program we are advocating that Counties withhold Medicaid payments made to the State of New York.

Objective: Passage of a bill that requires the State to take over the funding of Medicaid.

Strategy: Build a Coalition of support to withhold Medicaid payments to New York State through the Boycott Petition.

The Petition:


TO: County Leaders of New York State – Stop Medicaid Payments to New York State Government

FROM: The People of the Counties of New York State

We hereby decry the NY State Government’s neglect to cede to county governments, the ability and authority to control spending on expensive state mandated programs and local personnel costs associated with these unfunded mandates. The lack of overall mandate relief, especially Medicaid reform, continues to be a crushing burden on county finances and county property tax payers. The burden of unfunded mandates is resulting in either municipalities having to bypass the tax cap, or their having to drastically slash local programs to meet the requirements of the tax cap;

THEREFORE, we call for a boycott by our County Executives and County Legislatures, asking that they: STOP MAKING MEDICAID PAYMENTS TO NEW YORK STATE Government.

• That counties stop payments to pressure New York State government to put an end to unfunded mandates, in that these mandates are increasing local property taxes and undermining the competitiveness of our region for economic growth, job retention and job growth.

• It is time for our county executives (managers or supervisors), with the support of local legislature’s and in conjunction with other counties throughout the State, begin withholding Medicaid payments in protest and until New York State takes responsibility for the cost burden of this unfunded mandate.

WE ALSO call on the State Senate and State Assembly to enact legislation that requires that New York State take responsibility for the cost of Medicaid. And we call on the Governor to sign this legislation into law. This will allow New York’s counties to enact relief from some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

FURTHERMORE, it is time for the State to reform the Medicaid program itself. New York has the most costly Medicaid program in the nation, currently spending over $1 billion per week!

“Enough is Enough” so say we the undersigned:

Sign the petition

State Lawmakers Support State Medicaid Takeover Legislation, has support in 51 Counties

Medicaid Relief Proposal

Take a look at this video of a press conference held on September 19 about a new Medicaid relief proposal that will mean tax relief for counties across New York State.

CONTACT your State Legislature officials and let them know you support their sponsorship of this legislation, or request that they become a sponsor today! As for your County officials, request that they do their part to keep pressure on the state and pass resolutions in support of this bill.

Additionally, Take  Action by Signing these Petitions:

State Lawmakers Support State Medicaid Takeover Proposal

BILL NUMBER: S.5889B (Gallivan) / A.8644 (Paulin)


An act to amend chapter 58 of the laws of 2005, relating to authorizing reimbursements for expenditures made by or on behalf of social services districts for medical assistance for needy persons and the administration thereof, in relation to calculating social services district
medical assistance expenditure amounts

This bill provides for an immediate freeze of local contributions to the cost of Medicaid followed by the gradual state assumption of all non- federal Medicaid costs over an 8-year period.

Sections 1 and 2 of Part C of Chapter 58 of the Laws of 2005 are amended to provide a phased takeover of the local share of Medicaid costs.

Since the enactment of the Medicaid program in 1965, local social service districts (counties and the City of New York) have been required to share in both the cost and administrative operation of the program. Over the years, the cost of the program has grown exponentially while responsibility for program design and administration has been gradually shifted to the state. By 2016, all administrative responsibility for Medicaid will be assumed by the state.

Despite this shift of responsibility, county and New York City governments continue to be required to contribute a significant share of the total program cost. Currently, counties and New York City pay approximately $7.3 billion per year and under existing law, these costs will
continue to increase by 3% each year. With the recently enacted 2% cap on property taxes, counties simply cannot continue to meet this state mandate without slashing other essential local services such as senior services, veteran’s services, law enforcement, parks, and road maintenance.

This legislation provides for the gradual assumption of the current local shares starting with an immediate freeze on local contributions effective January 1, 2012. On October 1, 2012, local contributions will be reduced by 5%. Additional reductions will be made in the subsequent
years ending the with the full assumption of local Medicaid costs in 2019.

The timing of this legislation is designed to take advantage of changes that may be required by the federal Affordable Care Act as well as state actions being implemented or planned by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team. Given the phased nature of the takeover, there is ample time for the Governor and Legislature to develop and consider changes to the program that may be required to maintain program compliance with federal law as well as affordability to the state.

New Bill.

This act shall take effect immediately.

Sponsors of S.5889B/A.8644 as of 10/27/11


Co-Prime Sponsors: Paulin, Sweeney, Lupardo, Lifton, Magnarelli, Schimminger, Abinanti, Galef, Latimer, Lavine, Roberts, Thiele, Spano, Gunther, Jaffee, Brindisi, Molinaro, Giglio

Multi Sponsors: Magee, Boyle, Johns, Tedisco, Palmesano, Burling, Ceretto, Kolb, Smardz, Tenney, Barclay, McDonough, Hawley, Castelli, Corwin

Sponsor breakdown by region/county

• Albany
• Allegany- Young (S-57), Burling (A-147), Giglio (A-149)
• Broome – Libous (S-52), Lupardo (A-126)
• Cattaraugus – Young (S-57), Giglio (A-149)
• Cayuga – Valesky (S-49), Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Chautauqua – Young (S-57), Giglio (A-149), pending Goodell (A-150)
• Chemung – O’Mara (S-53)
• Chenango – Libous (S-52), Seward (S-51)
• Clinton
• Columbia – Molinaro (A-103)
• Cortland – Seward (S-51), Lifton A-125), Kolb (A-129)
• Delaware – Bonacic (S-42)
• Dutchess – Molinaro (A-103)
• Erie – Gallivan (S-59), Razenhofer (S-61), Grisanti (S-60), Schimminger (A-140), Smardz (A146), Corwin (A-142)
• Essex
• Franklin
• Fulton – Farley (S-44), Butler (A-117)
• Genesee – Ranzenhofer (S-61), Burling (A-147), Hawley (A-139)
• Greene – Seward (S-51)
• Hamilton
• Herkimer – Seward S-51, Butler (A-117)
• Jefferson – Ritchie (S-48)
• Lewis – Griffo (S-47)
• Livingston – Gallivan (S-59), Young (S-57), Burling (A-147)
• Madison – Valesky (S-49), Magee (A-111)
• Monroe – Maziarz (S-62), Johns (A-135), Hawley (A-139), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Montgomery – Farley (S-44)
• Nassau – Lavine (A-13), Montessano (A-15)
• New York City – Avella (S-11), Golden (S-22)
• Niagara – Grisanti (S-60), Maziarz (S-62), Schimminger (A-140), Ceretto (A-138), Hawley (A-139), Corwin (A-142)
• Oneida – Griffo (S-47), Valesky (S-49), Magee (A-111), Brindisi (A-116)
• Onondaga – Valesky (S-49), Magnarelli (A-120), Roberts (A-119), Kolb (A-129), Barclay (A-124)
• Ontario – Gallivan (S-59), Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Orange – Bonacic (S-42), Carlucci (S-38), Larkin (S-39), Gunther (A-98)
• Orleans – Maziarz (S-62), Hawley (A-139)
• Oswego – Ritchie (S-48), Barclay (A-124)
• Otsego – Seward (S-51), Magee (A-111), Butler (A-117)
• Putnam – Galef (A-90)
• Rensselaer – McDonald (S-43)
• Rockland – Carlucci (S-38), Jaffee (A-95)
• St. Lawrence – Griffo (S-47), Ritchie (S-48)
• Saratoga – McDonald (S-43), Farely (S-44), Tedisco (A-110)
• Schenectady – Farley (S-44), Tedisco (A-110)
• Schoharie – Seward (S-51)
• Schuyler – O’Mara (S-53)
• Seneca – Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Steuben – O’Mara (S-53),
• Suffolk – Sweeney (A-11), Thiele (A-2), Boyle (A-8)
• Sullivan – Bonacic (S-42), Gunther (A-98)
• Tioga – Libous (S-52)
• Tompkins – O’Mara (S-53), Seward (S-51), Lifton (A-125), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Ulster – Bonacic (S-42), Larkin (S-39)
• Warren
• Washington
• Wayne – Nozzolio (S-54)
• Westchester – Oppenheimer (S-3), Paulin (A-88), Abinati (A-92), Galef (A-90), Latimer (A-91), Spano (A-93), Castelli (A-89)
• Wyoming – Gallivan (S-59), Burling (S-147)
• Yates – O’Mara (S-53), Palmesano (A-136)

Must see CBC slide presentation – Time for a Turnaround: Facing Fiscal Reality in New York State

An eye opening compilation !

The NY Business Council Growth Agenda – Making New York Competitive Again

The Business Council Growth Agenda
Making New York Competitive Again

January 2011
Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky

New York State’s budget continues to grow at unsustainable levels. Spending growth coupled with a continuing economic downturn has resulted in massive, multi-billion dollar state budget deficits. During a time of declining employment and personal income, New York has imposed more than $10 billion in new taxes and fees on its slumping economy over the past two years. New York has increased tax rates on personal and business income, adopted new taxes on payrolls, new taxes on health care and health insurance, new taxes on our vital financial services industry, new assessments on already high cost energy supplies, and has taken away already-earned tax incentives for job creation and investments.

In short, even as New York continues its long record of underperforming the nation in terms of job creation and new investment, its budget and policy actions have produced an even less competitive economic climate.

The state desperately needs to bring its financial house in order to provide broad-based tax relief at the state and local level, and needs to adopt policies and programs that promote private sector reinvestment in key growth sectors that result in new jobs and new opportunities for all New Yorkers.

Improving the state’s economic competitiveness is the only real mechanism for restoring the Empire State. Renewed economic growth will provide revenues necessary to finance essential government functions, and allow the state to re-invest in areas crucial to supporting private sector investment: transportation infrastructure, higher education and others.

In the following, we present a comprehensive and achievable plan to reform and restructure state and local government financing, and make the state more attractive for investment, job creation and economic growth – recommendations that address issues of priority concern to Business Council members.

We look forward to working with the new Administration and the State Legislature in adopting this blueprint for restoring New York’s private sector economy and its governmental finances.

Fiscal Reform

The New York State budget has increased more than $30 billion in the last five years, and even with significant tax increases, the state is looking at upwards of $40 billion in structural deficits over the next 3 years.

The Business Council believes that basic fiscal reforms are essential to returning the state’s budget to a sustainable level and putting New York back on the path to economic growth and jobs.

Some of the following recommendations are designed to drive short-term savings for the state; some are longer-term solutions. However, we believe they are all part of a necessary, comprehensive fiscal reform plan for Albany.

Cap & Reform Property Taxes – Local property taxes in New York are 59 percent above the national average. When property taxes are measured as a percentage of home value, 15 of the 25 highest taxed counties in the nation are in New York State.

A cap on property taxes is a necessary reform to bring local real property taxes under control. To be effective, a property tax cap must have two key features: it must apply to all local taxing jurisdictions, and it must apply to all categories of real property. So-called “circuit breakers” and reliance on STAR are not solutions, as they merely shift the cost of property tax payments from local to state taxpayers.

To help make a cap “workable” at the local level, it is essential that the state also reduce costly mandates on local government, and further consolidation of local governmental entities and services needs to be achieved. Mandate reform should include repeal of the “Triborough” amendment, Wicks law, and other broadly applied mandates. The extensive work conducted by previous commissions on mandates should be revisited, rather than new commissions appointed, key municipal associations should be consulted, and mandates across all levels of programs and services should be reviewed.

In addition to a cap, there are real property tax administration issues of significant concern to business. Important administration reforms include:

  • Designating the state’s Tax Appeals Division as the trial court for Article 7 certiorari proceedings on non-residential parcels exceeding one million dollars outside the City of New York.
  • Allowing for escrow payments of Article 7 disputed tax liability.
  • Authorizing the testimony of assessors at Article 7 challenges.
  • Increasing the period for challenging an assessment from 30 to 90 days.
  • Reducing the discrimination between “homestead” and non-”homestead” effective tax rates.

Cap State Spending – Over the last decade Albany has increased spending at more than twice the rate of inflation. Our current state budget would be at least $18 billion smaller – and there would be no deficit – if the state had just kept spending hikes within the rate of inflation during this period. We need a cap to limit annual increases in state spending.

As an immediate step, the Administration should propose a budget for FY 2011-12 at the FY 2009-10 expenditure levels.

For long term budget stability, the state should adopt a spending cap at a level that is realistic and related to inflation and performance-based analysis.

Reduce the Tax Burden – The burden of state and local taxes simply makes New York uncompetitive. Study after study show New York with among the highest combined state and local tax burdens. High taxes are among the reasons that we are losing residents, businesses and jobs to other states. New York State needs to reduce its real property taxes and reduce its marginal personal income tax rates – which affect both residents and small businesses. It needs to reduce taxes, fees and assessments on energy. It needs to reduce taxes imposed on key business sectors such as manufacturing and financial services.

Reform Public Employee Pensions – Pension costs are a growing, and an increasingly unaffordable, share of state and local government budgets.

The state 2010-2011 budget includes approximately $1.5 billion as the state’s contribution to the retirement funds on behalf of its workforce, an increase of $552 million from the prior year. The State Financial Plan projects the state’s pension contribution rate as a percentage of salary to grow from 12.1 percent in FY 2011 to 23.5 percent in FY 2014.

In 2009, a new pension tier with reduced benefits was created for newly hired public employees – called Tier V. But more must be done to control public employee pension costs.
Since the state Constitution guarantees pension benefits for current employees, pension reform needs to be understood as a strategy that will impact state and local finances for the next generation of government workers and taxpayers, not current workers and taxpayers.

A minimum step would be to implement a new tier (VI) of the current pension system model which reinstates the employee contribution of 3 percent, lengthens the number of years of service required to reach maximum benefit levels, and makes other changes to limit the cost of the benefits to be provided.

For the long term, New York needs to consider alternative approaches for public sector pensions, and adopt plans more comparable to what is typically provided in the private sector. This would mean a shift to defined contribution plans, like a 401Ks, rather than defined benefit plans, for future hires in the public workforce.

Limit Government Borrowing – New York State and local government debt has grown by 32 percent in the past five years. Our state and local debt per-capita is nearly double the national average. Increasingly, state and local officials borrow money in order to pay operating expenses.

Government debt should only be issued to finance capital needs. New York should strictly prohibit government borrowing to pay state and local operating expenses.

Further, the state should build on the 2000 debt reform legislation to place a hard limit on state-funded debt to a fixed percent of New Yorkers’ personal income.

Performance-Based Budgeting – New York’s budget process is an incremental one. Each year, the process builds off of prior year spending, resulting in ever increasing overall budget figures. The result is a spiral of spending that usually outpaces inflation and revenue growth, resulting in the current crisis.

Performance-based budgeting is a tool for improved expenditure prioritization — that is, helping to shift limited public resources to the services of greatest benefit.

In the short term, the state needs to identify areas where agencies are duplicating efforts and streamline those functions. Likewise, state agencies need to define their core mission and shed programs that do not advance that mission.

Longer term, the Administration should require state agencies to submit goals and objectives to execute their core mission with their annual budget request, and tie the funding to performance criteria.

As a transition step, agencies should submit a “zero base” budget for FY 2011-12, which forces an explanation of each budgetary request, permitting only existing contractual costs (i.e., collective bargaining agreements) to be carried over from the prior year. By doing so, the executive could more effectively determine which functions are critical to the core mission of the agencies, and eliminate programs that stray from that mission until such time as the state is in a more stable financial condition.

Economic Climate/Taxation/Economic Development

New York’s job growth and levels of capital investment have lagged behind national trends for the past two decades. New York grew at about half the national rate during the 1990’s, and at about 60 percent of the national rate in the 2000’s. Too many New Yorkers, especially the young and well educated, continue to leave for better job opportunities in other states. New York’s high cost-of-doing business – taxes, especially real property taxes; energy costs, health care costs and others – discourage new investments by existing business, smother entrepreneurs and limit the creation of new businesses and new jobs in emerging technology sectors.

Because of our weak competitive position, New York has lagged significantly behind national trends in recovering from the last two recessions. We need to become more competitive, not less, in order to fully participate in the eventual national economic recovery.

We believe that the most effective economic development program would be a more competitive business climate. We need to control state-imposed cost mandates on employers, reduce the cost of energy, and lower real property taxes.

Tax Reform – The Council on State Taxation, in its annual business tax climate study prepared by Ernst and Young, found that only California levied more in total state and local taxes on business than did New York, and New York’s state and local taxes as a share of its gross state produce was exceeded by only ten other states.

Over the past two budget cycles, New York adopted nearly $10 billion in new taxes, as it attempted to close massive gaps between projected incomes and desired spending levels.

It is crucial that New York bring its tax burden under control, and make the state’s tax climate more attractive for new investment, in order to repair its economic climate and position itself to compete in a national economic recovery.

First, and foremost, the Administration and Legislature must oppose new and increased business taxes, fees, assessments and other adverse “revenue actions” in addressing the expected FY 2011-12 budget gap.

The next Governor should consider additional business tax reforms that help make New York a more attractive place to invest, create and retain jobs, develop new business, and locate new investments. These include:

  • Aggressive tax reductions that target key industries and struggling regions. For example, adopt a three year phase out of Article 9-A for taxpayers that are manufacturers. This would be an especially significant reform for upstate regional economies that are typically dependent on their manufacturing sector.
  • Address issues in the Bank Tax, including need for annual extension of Article 32; annual extension of Graham-Leach-Bliley transition rules; and adopt reforms included in Article 9-A including single sales factor apportionment and customer sourcing rules.

Incentivizing Investment and Jobs – Recognizing that major business climate improvements will take time, we also believe the state needs to continue to offer effective, efficient economic incentive programs that target strategic industries and that produce significant returns on the state’s “investment.”

First, the state needs to improve the Excelsior program adopted in 2010. We are concerned that the design of tax incentives in the Excelsior program will be ineffective in attracting significant new investment to New York State.

The program should be improved basing the real property tax credit on improved value of property and giving Empire State Development flexibility to increase the percentage credit and provide a longer duration of credits, compared with current law.

The Excelsior investment tax credit should provide a range of 2 percent to 5 percent; or, alternatively, allow the Excelsior ITC to be taken in conjunction with the existing ITC. This would give ESD an enhanced ability to negotiate higher incentives for high value projects, yet would not increase the cost of the program beyond its statutory hard cap.

The state should also repeal the requirement that, to qualify for any Excelsior credit, a taxpayer has to rescind any current or future Empire Zone credit. There is no reason a business should have to forfeit already earned Empire Zone credits, if it is proposing an entirely new project that otherwise would be eligible for the Excelsior program.

The law also needs to clarify the eligibility of projects in targeted industry sectors; for example, assuring that manufacturing jobs and investments qualify for Excelsior credits regardless of the overall makeup of the taxpayer making the investment.

Last year’s three year deferral of most major business tax credits was incredibly bad policy, imposing increased tax liability on businesses that had already made investments in New York State. Before this policy causes any further lasting damage to the state’s economic development efforts, it should be repealed.

The state should adopt a permanent extension of the investment tax credit for the financial services industry, which is set to expire October 2011.

Local industrial development agencies (IDA) have proven to be one of the state’s most effective, efficient economic development tools, supporting large, mid-sized and smaller investment projects deemed to be strategically important at the local level. Unfortunately, recent legislative efforts threaten to greatly reduce the ability of IDAs to support new investments in New York State. The new Administration and legislature should support the role of IDAs in the state’s economic development “toolbox,” and reject proposals to impose new wage mandates on IDA-assisted projects. The Business Council has shown that increased costs that would result from proposed construction and building service prevailing wage mandates will outweigh the financing and tax abatement benefits available through IDAs. And while some additional IDA reforms may be warranted to assure their efficient operation and public transparency, new proposals must be evaluated in context of the recent Public Authorities Reform Act.

As a final measure to promote new investment and economic growth, New York should become the thirty–sixth state to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores. This widely supported proposal would result in expanded markets for New York wineries, more choice for consumers and much needed increase in New York State revenues.

Supporting Innovation – The Business Council agrees that New York needs to promote investment in new businesses in emerging technology sectors.

To become more competitive in fostering these business sectors, we support both extension and expansion of the existing qualified emerging technology company (QETC) tax credit by increasing revenue eligibility threshold from $20 million to $40 million; increasing the credit for investment in R&D property from 18 to 30 percent; and increasing the credit for “qualified research expenses” from 9 to 15 percent.

There is broad agreement that continual investment in research and development is key to promoting future economic growth. The Business Council believes that New York can and should do more to promote research and development investments within its existing business community. Specifically, we recommend adoption of a new, refundable R&D tax credit of 15% for investments in R&D property and 7.5% for “qualified research expenses” such as in-house research and processes; the preparation and submission of patent applications; and other expenses directly related to R&D efforts.

Labor Issues

Unemployment Insurance – As the economic recovery continues to lag, the insolvency of New York’s unemployment insurance trust fund has become a larger problem for New York’s employers. As a benefit funded solely through a dedicated employer tax, the solvency of the trust fund needs to be prioritized.

New York employers recognize that benefit levels have not increased in over ten years, but only “Albany as usual” would tie fund solvency to a benefit increase. Bringing the trust fund into solvency and putting it on a more stable footing will require business tax increases for at least the next five years. Many state employers will be hit with significant tax increases, even though they were able to maintain a stable workforce throughout this economic downturn. To hit those same employers with additional tax increases to pay for immediate benefit increases is unreasonable.

First and foremost, the state needs to address the solvency of trust fund.
To do so, it needs to adopt reasonable increase in UI taxable wage base and adopt more progressive UI tax tables. Any amendments to UI tax tables must avoid shifting significant additional tax burden to stable employers.

Importantly, New York needs to avoid any benefit increases until trust fund solvency is addressed and achieved.

The state should reject any proposal to index UI benefits or taxable wage base. Proposals have been advanced which would allow for “automatic” tax increase authority to be granted to the Department of Labor, removing the Executive and Legislature from their role in setting policy and practice. This “automatic” tax authority also removes the incentive to negotiate systemic reforms for a system fully funded by employer taxes.

Finally, unemployment insurance was never intended to act as wage insurance. The model for unemployment insurance has not changed significantly since its inception in the 1930s. It is worth a conversation to discuss new models for unemployment insurance which might include a wage insurance component – and offer the opportunity for employee buy-in. In a few states, unemployment insurance is an employee-employer tax; in most states it is a 100% employer funded tax. Indexing of benefits provides the illusion of wage protection – but in the modern world of work, new models should be explored which maintain a base benefit level but provide employees with the option to provide additional coverage, at employee expense, for some form of “wage insurance.”

Workers’ Compensation – Employers remain frustrated by the pace at which the executive agencies implemented the 2007 reforms. The reforms were a much heralded successful negotiation between business and labor which called for sizeable benefit increases and a series of actions which would help to offset the cost of those increases while not diminishing the quality of care to injured workers.

Four straight years of benefit increases have occurred; and benefits are now permanently indexed to increases in the state’s average weekly wage. Medical treatment guidelines for only four body parts – guidelines which were a key part of measuring the cost savings to pay for the benefit increase and to help limit friction costs within the system – are just now, almost four years later, coming out of the rulemaking process. Rulemaking on how to evaluate impairment under the 2007 reforms has yet to be published.

Concerns remain over numerous other aspects of how the 2007 reforms have been implemented: the benefits from the pharmacy fee schedule and pharmacy networks have not been fully realized because many believe the rules were so onerous as to limit participation. Procedural issues within the Workers’ Compensation Board raise concerns as the number of forms required continues to proliferate, seen by many as nothing more than a way to generate penalty revenue for state coffers.

Workers’ Compensation remains a significant cost of doing business in New York State and without a vigilant eye and strong leadership on ensuring that the system remains in balance – that process does not trump outcome – employers and workers will not be well served by a system whose very purpose was to provide seamless care and benefits for those with workplace injuries.

Importantly, all legislative reforms must be fully and effectively implemented to offset cost of benefit increases. 2007 reform measures, and additional workers’ comp reform issues, include:

  • Providing a clear path to classification of PPDs, assure reasonable methods to classify PPD claimants; ensure administrative processes for classification bring NYS closer to the national average of maximum medical improvement (about 19 months) from current levels of approximately 48 months; acknowledge that impairment is a necessary first component for classifying PPD claimants.
  • Addressing significant financial issues related to defaulted self insured trusts; adopt proposed self insurance task force-based legislation, including: orderly shutdown of remaining groups; elimination of premium-based assessment on inactive groups; implement measures to support/expedite cost recovery from members of defaulted groups.
  • Repealing mandate for deposit of present value of PPD claims against commercial carriers in the aggregate trust fund.
  • Conducting thorough review of Board processes (including but not limited to those adopted as part of the 2007 reforms) to identify whether they have created additional frictional costs, or in fact have streamlined processes to allow for better efficiencies within the system.

Workforce Development – New York State’s economic competitiveness is inextricably linked to the success of our workforce preparation system: the K-12 education system; the post-secondary education and training system; and the ancillary employment preparation services captured in certificate and non-degree granting programs provided through organizations such as unions, community colleges, BOCES and employers. It is an economic issue when data shows that eight out of ten new jobs will require workforce training or higher education by the end of this decade. And it is an economic issue that efforts to align the services and investments (public and private) have still resulted in a fragmented system with fragmented accountability to both the investors (taxpayers, business and individual) and the end-user (students and workers).

The adoption by the SUNY trustees of a strategic plan which encompasses both a vision and a roadmap on how to leverage the tremendous public investment in SUNY into regional economic development success is an important first step for this statewide asset. For the plan to be realized, however, state elected leaders need to show the political will to allow SUNY campuses the flexibility to enter into public-private partnerships; to align campus objectives with regional economic goals; and along with providing flexibility, compel accountability to ensure the goals are being attained.

New York State is rich in higher education assets – both public and private – and these assets need to be more fully integrated into the overall economic success of our state. Merely graduating students is no longer an acceptable goal; and certainly not acceptable when substantial public investments continue to support higher education. If higher education institutions are to be equal partners in the economic development agendas of their regions, they need to be able to operate with flexible, modern business models. Private higher education institutions across New York State have shown the way for decades on how these public-private partnerships can lead to innovative practices, can better integrate applied learning into the workplace, and can respond to business training needs in real time. Now is the time to allow for this innovation within the public higher education system.

Workforce training, however, is not limited to higher education. A lack of a cohesive vision for the vast public resources across state agencies has perpetuated investments without ensuring those investments are aligned toward state or regional goals. Regardless of the program – these funding sources represent an opportunity to harness the power of a strong vision to provide the best economic opportunity for our citizens, and the best economic climate for businesses to remain viable in New York State.


New York can support revitalization of the state’s economy by making New York’s energy costs more competitive. While new sources of power generation and other energy solutions are needed, New York must balance the benefits to be derived by investments in energy efficiency, alternate sources of electricity generation, and infrastructure with the costs of those investments and the burdens they place on New York’s businesses and consumers.

Research done by our Public Policy Institute shows that state imposed taxes, fees and assessments account for more than 25 percent of the cost of electric power in New York State – a total of more than $6 billion a year – adding to the state’s already un-competitively high energy costs. These include the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”), System Benefits Charge, and increased Public Service Law §18-a assessment. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Conservation has implemented or will implement a host of new regulations that will impact energy costs. These measures include the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, limitations on SO2, NOx, CO2, and mercury; more stringent New Source Review requirements and regulations for cooling water intakes; and a new “policy” on considering GHG emissions and energy use under SEQRA.

New York must do a better job of balancing the benefits to be derived by investments in energy efficiency, alternate sources of electricity generation, and infrastructure with the costs of those investments and the burdens they place on New York’s businesses and consumers. While New York has historically been a national leader in environmental and energy policy, the state needs to be aware of the economic costs imposed by its environmental and energy initiatives.

The Business Council recommends that the Administration and State Legislature adhere to the following principles to stimulate economic development in New York while not jeopardizing the continued viability of the state’s existing businesses.

  • Adopt a permanent economic development power program based on the “Energize New York” proposal (S.8065) which passed the Senate in 2010.
  • Impose a moratorium on new energy surcharges, levies, and assessments.
  • Repeal the recently enacted increase to the Public Service Law 18-a assessment and avoid new energy taxes and assessments.
  • Assure the cost-effectiveness and need for any programs financed by state imposed charges (SBC, RPS, EEPS, RGGI/Green jobs) before such charges are reauthorized.
  • Assure reasonable requirements and flexibility in implementing CWA Section 316-b Water Quality Permits; avoid fixed mandate for “best technology available” for cooling water intakes.
  • Oppose state-level, economy-wide GHG emission reduction mandates.
  • Adopt a fuel-neutral siting law that: provides 12 month, “one-stop” review process with expedited review of re-powering projects; reasonable limits on intervener funding; and that does not include new emission standards.
  • Support relicensing of Indian Point Power Plant, an essential step for maintaining an adequate energy supply downstate and a diversified generating capacity that reduces greenhouse gases.
  • Promote investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure necessary for system reliability; the addition of new renewable sources of generation, and smart grid applications, allowing utilities appropriate, timely and adequate recovery of investments.
  • Support reasonable/appropriate environmental safeguards for timely development of Marcellus shale formation.

Health and Health Insurance

Among Business Council members, large and small, self-insured or in the commercial market, the rising cost of health care has been their number one concern for the past six years. Even with the United States spending much more on health care than countries with similar kinds of economies, Americans do not see doctors more often, or live longer, healthier lives, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Costs need to be examined more closely if we are to ever attain the goal of cost containment of federal health care reform.

Health Insurance Coverage Mandates & Assessments – With the advancement of federal health care reform and the changes this is bringing to the commercial and self-insured products, New York should impose a moratorium on any new coverage mandates.

Existing coverage mandates need to be evaluated in terms of how they align with federal mandates, and whether any form of mandate relief can be considered. The State Department of Health never convened the statutorily-authorized mandate commission, examined closely what is mandated, or what the costs of those mandates are with a commitment toward quality not quantity.

Health insurance taxes, sales taxes on hospital and nursing home stays, and similar costs imposed by the state on the privately insured in New York total over $4.1 billions dollars per year. These taxes are not just a burden. They can prove to be the tipping point on whether a business can maintain coverage or not. Public policy should not squeeze the commercial insurance market to sustain the subsidized pool without a full evaluation of the gap subsidized plans are intended to fill, how best public policy should be supporting those subsidized pools, and a measurement on the effectiveness and efficiency of the subsidized pools.

To address this, New York must begin repealing health insurance taxes, sales taxes on hospital and nursing home stays, and similar costs imposed by the state on the privately insured.

The Business Council opposes legislation aimed to undercut the effectiveness of health insurance. Every year, numerous bills are introduced to weaken health insurer network requirements and restrict use of tools such as prior authorization and medical necessity. Not only are these tools critical to ensuring that high quality of care for consumers, but they are also critical to controlling the underlying costs of health care. The Business Council will oppose discrete pieces of legislation that fail to align with federal health care reform and comprehensive state policy and statutory objectives.

We also support fair implementation of “Prior Approval.” In 2010, legislation was enacted to require that all health insurance rate increases be approved by the Department of Insurance, using subjective review standards. Insurance rates are developed to reflect the underlying costs of health care. Failure of the Department to review the rates using objective factors, will compromise health insurers and the availability of affordable, diverse products to businesses across the state.

New York also needs to ensure that state legislation enacted to implement Health Insurance Exchanges as required in federal health care reform reflects the concerns and needs of New York businesses. The Business Council will advocate for an Exchange that facilitates the purchase of health insurance coverage, without adding yet another unnecessary layer of regulatory oversight.

Medicaid SpendingNew York’s Medicaid spending exceeds that of any other state. We spend 22 percent more than California, which has almost twice as many people and more than twice the national average on a per capita basis.

“Cutting Medicaid spending” and “reducing reimbursement rates to hospitals and nursing homes” are not solutions to the underlying problem. New York’s spending problem with Medicaid is long and well-documented. This calls for a New York solution to a New York problem. The solvency of Medicaid cannot continue to be borne by New Yorkers through taxes on private health insurance, and through General Fund revenues, without a critical look at the delivery system and the menu of services provided to identify real efficiencies. A program of this size and scale compels serious review of the results, not just the spending. What is often lacking from the public policy dialog on Medicaid is an accountability analysis to evaluate where effective spending on particular services is achieving better health care outcomes. It is time to turn the tables and bring heightened scrutiny to solutions that retain the integrity of Medicaid with a critical eye toward targeting investments toward results.


New York is seen as having an overly stringent and costly environmental regulatory climate. Business supports environmental regulations that are necessary to protect environmental resources and public health and maintain a high quality of life in New York. But New York State often displays a regulatory mindset in which “more stringent” is always the right approach, regardless of existing federal and state requirements, the marginal environmental or public health benefit to be achieved or the increased cost of compliance.

The state often exceeds the scope and requirements of the federal environmental laws and regulations it is charged with implementing, adopts state-specific mandates and restrictions, and is ahead of the nation on some major regulatory initiatives.

This regulatory climate imposes costs and operational restrictions on business that impede economic development projects and discourage new investments and jobs in New York State.

The new Administration needs to consider both incremental benefits and new costs, and look for solutions that are economically efficient as well as environmentally effective, and that allow flexibility in how regulated business achieve new compliance standards. The state also needs to avoid imposing new, unnecessary procedural obstacles to new investment in the state. These include proposals to dramatically expand the definition of, and state regulation of, small wetlands; and broad proposals to subject projects to lengthy “essential habitat” reviews and permitting. These proposals are layered upon already existing wetlands and SEQRA requirements that provide adequate protection for environmental resources.

Climate Change – New York is already among the most energy and carbon-efficient states, a result of our fuel mix for electric power generation, including significant nuclear and hydro capacity; downstate’s extensive mass transit system; as well as our regulatory structure and incentive programs that restrict emissions and promote efficiency.

The Business Council supports reasonable, cost-effective emissions reduction goals and strategies based on consideration of emission impacts and compliance costs.

The Business Council believes that recent legislative proposals for state-specific, economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates will have insignificant impact on global carbon emissions yet put the state at additional economic disadvantage compared to other states and nations. Moreover, stringent, single state carbon limits will have the effect of shifting activity from New York to other jurisdictions, further limiting the impact of such mandates on actual greenhouse gas emissions.

Chemical Regulation – The Business Council is concerned with any legislation that imposes state specific chemical use bans and restrictions. Regulation of chemicals in interstate and international commerce is more appropriately done at the federal level, rather than having individual states impose inconsistent, and at times unwarranted, standards for chemical and product safety.

Hazardous Materials – New York should allow Congress to continue its review and reform of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and EPA’s completion of its designated chemical action plans. This would provide a sound, national statutory and regulatory system that all businesses and manufacturers, including those in New York, could follow. New York should work with the federal government and take advantage of its resources in addressing issues of importance to the state in terms of chemical regulation.

Expanded Private Rights of Action – The Business Council opposes legislation which would allow for expanded standing and private “citizen suits” to be brought in response to alleged violations of SEQRA and the Environmental Conservation Law. We believe that these types of bills will not significantly enhance environmental protection in New York, and are simply unnecessary given the significant enforcement authority and resources available to the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General.

Remediation and Development – Despite its arduous procedural requirements, the state’s brownfield program has been a tremendous success, supporting more than $1.25 billion in new capital investments in New York. Unfortunately, through administrative actions, the state has been trying to limit participation in the brownfield program by denying approval to clearly contaminated sites. Through legislative actions, the state has been pulling back on redevelopment tax credits, including a 2010 change that reduces tax credits available to businesses already accepted into the brownfield program – putting into jeopardy over $20 billion in proposed cleanup and development projects.

An effective, workable brownfield program is an essential tool for meeting the state’s urban redevelopment and “smart growth” objectives, and the state must stop imposing new hurdles for brownfield developers.

Natural Gas Exploration – New York has a long history in natural gas production. New York drilling companies drill approximately 1,000 wells each year in New York. Marcellus shale production will yield extensive new job opportunities, provide increased state and local tax collections, boost local economies, and provide long-term growth particularly to the Southern Tier, an area in desperate need of economic growth. We support reasonable and appropriate environmental safeguards that allow for timely development of the Marcellus shale formation. We encourage the Department of Environmental Conservation to finalize its drilling regulations and begin permitting wells and policing New York’s production operations.

Project Review and approval – The state’s regulatory climate imposes costs and operational restrictions on business that impede economic development projects and discourage new investments and jobs in New York State. In developing environmental policies and regulations, the new Administration needs to consider both incremental benefits and new costs, and look for solutions that are economically efficient as well as environmentally effective, and that allow flexibility in how regulated business achieve new compliance standards.

  • Amend the state’s new source review regulation to eliminate unnecessary restrictions on investments that improve efficiency and competitiveness and/or reduce emissions and energy use.
  • Avoid imposing new, unnecessary procedural obstacles to new investment in the state. These include proposals to dramatically expand the definition of, and state regulation of, small wetlands; and broad proposals to subject projects to lengthy “essential habitat” reviews and permitting. These proposals are layered upon already existing wetlands and SEQRA requirements that provide adequate protection for environmental resources.

Financial Services

The financial services industry is New York’s largest sector in terms of its contribution to New York’s gross state product (GSP) and total payroll. The sector is composed of companies that engage in financial transactions, including the creation, liquidation or alteration of financial assets, or are involved in the facilitation of such transactions. Covered firms include traditional banking firms, investment banks and security firms, mutual funds, stock and commodity exchanges, insurance companies and trust and other financial instrument and asset managers. In 2008 the financial sector directly contributed $187.2 billion or 14 percent toward New York’s $1.145 trillion economic output, making it the largest single driver of New York’s GSP.

Despite the importance of this industry, the state continues to impose punitive new taxes, mandates and restrictions on the financial services sector, eroding the competitive climate for these key businesses and jobs.

In 2010, the New York State Legislature introduced no fewer than 94 bills and resolutions aimed at punishing Wall Street for the effects of the current recession. These proposals included increased business taxes, new taxes on Wall Street bonuses, regulations restricting or adding costs to specific financial services activities, and more.

The new Administration and Legislature has to recognize that New York is in an intense global competition to maintain its position of “Financial Capital of the World.” Keeping that leadership role will require a cooperative spirit that places New York’s international status and promise at the constant forefront of policy discussions. The state must:

  • Oppose any new state level requirements/restrictions until financial services reform at the federal level is fully implemented, and there has been ample time to understand its effects in New York.
  • Avoid imposing new or expanded state or local taxes on the sector’s firms or its employees.
  • Reject proposals to subject publicly traded companies to the provisions of New York’s broad Martin Act.
  • Adopt legislation to modernize the regulation of commercial insurance markets in New York State. The key to modernization is permitting qualified insurers to write insurance without filing policy forms and rates; establishing special license privileges; and defining and setting standards for a “large commercial insured.”

Legal Reform

New York’s legal environment consistently ranks as one of the worst in the nation. According to a 2009 report commissioned by New Yorkers for Lawsuit Reform, New York’s legal system is the second most costly in the country and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars through higher taxes and increased costs for goods, insurance and health care. New York needs meaningful legal reform that respects the rights of all parties and helps reduce the state’s hidden “lawsuit tax.”

To effectively address these issues, the state should:

  • Adopt legal reforms such a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages and the creation of health courts. The Legislature must enact these reforms to lower health care costs, increase access to obstetric and other health care services, limit defensive medicine, and stop doctors from leaving to practice in other states. In 2010, the New York State Insurance Department increased medical malpractice insurance rates by an average of five percent.
  • Adopt a comparative negligence standard to be used for actions brought under Labor Law Section 240/241. Sections 240 and 241 of New York’s Labor Law, which date back to the late 1800s, provide that if a worker is injured on the job as a result of falling from a certain height, or being hit with something that falls from a certain height, the owner and the contractor are absolutely liable. This is true even if the worker is at fault – for example, if the worker refused to use safety equipment or was impaired by drugs or alcohol. No other state maintains such a law.
  • Adopt limits on the size of appeal bonds. A cap on the amount of an appeal bond would help companies facing potentially bankrupting judgments to post a bond without being forced to settle a case or declare bankruptcy in order to appeal.


Telecommunications, with innovative new services and expanded service areas, is the new economic infrastructure of the 21st century. It is essential that New York adopt policies to promote continued private sector reinvestment in its telecom network investments that will help make New York’s economy more competitive.

As is too often the case in New York, the state’s policy initiatives for this sector focus on new regulations, new restrictions and new and expanded taxes, rather than the promotion of new investment.

The state needs to resist new, state-level regulatory schemes, such as imposing so-called “net neutrality” requirements on broadband services, new restrictions on the Public Service Commission’s ability to approve telecom mergers, mandates on business practices such as the provision of call center services, and others.

The telecom industry has become increasingly competitive and innovative, largely due to the hands-off approach taken by all levels of government. Now is not the time to begin imposing state-specific regulations on telecom and internet services restrictions that would only inhibit investment and innovation.

  • Oppose new, state-level regulatory schemes, such as imposing so-called “net neutrality” requirements on broadband services, new restrictions on the Public Service Commission’s ability to approve telecom mergers, and mandates on business practices such as the provision of call center services, and others. The state should develop a broadband policy that supports additional private sector investment.
  • Support a uniform cell tower siting policy to advance a cost-effective method for deployment of wireless and broadband coverage.
  • Reevaluate telecomm taxes and regulations. Oppose any and all additional state taxes and fees on providers and consumers to assure a level playing field and promote new investment and encourage co-location of facilities.
  • Support a Public Service Commission which provides due process of all pending matters, so as not to impede business.

Construction and Transportation

New York’s vast but aging transportation infrastructure is a key economic asset. Roads, bridges, ports, airports and railroads are critical for the goods and services, workforce, tourism, and other trade that drive our diverse economy.

New York’s aging transportation infrastructure is at a critical crossroads. Roads, bridges, ports, airports, railroads and public facilities require massive investments from the state and federal government for continued maintenance, reconstruction and modernization to ensure the efficient flow of goods, services and employees. In addition, we cannot overlook investments for energy distribution, telecommunications, water treatment and other economic assets.

The enormous task of rebuilding New York’s aging infrastructure is further complicated by a sluggish economy, burdensome state laws and regulations, already unsustainable state spending levels and rising taxes which limit the types of financing available. The federal and state government’s inability to enact fully funded infrastructure capital plans threatens the viability of New York’s economy.

Rebuilding New York’s aging infrastructure requires alternatives to the standard approach of financing, constructing and operating our transportation system. The global financial crisis and environmental concerns have created the perfect storm for private transportation infrastructure investment.

The growing use of public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects in the United States and across the globe demonstrates a sensible alternative to traditional funding and procurement. Carefully crafted public-private partnerships would help to reduce additional transportation taxes; reduce the State’s reliance on borrowing; adapt to a changing global economy; and create jobs.

Pursue public-private partnerships would help to reduce additional transportation taxes; reduce the State’s reliance on borrowing; adapt to a changing global economy; and create jobs.

Corporate Governance

New York has long been considered a prime “headquarters state,” and in past years the state took specific action designed to encourage business to locate and maintain corporate offices in New York, (e.g. the 1945 corporate tax reform act).

In 2005 there were 602 stand-alone headquarter operations for major companies in the city of New York, and, according to Fortune magazine, 56 of the 500 U.S. corporations with the largest revenues in 2009 had headquarters in the state, including 42 headquartered in New York City. The economic benefit of the presence of these companies in New York is manifested in jobs, income tax revenue, increased economic activity, business tax revenue, local property tax revenue and more.

There is renewed interest in corporate governance issues since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. It is critical that the State take great care to balance the well-intended desire to restore public confidence in corporate governance against creating a structure that makes New York State uncompetitive with other states.

In recent legislative sessions, bills were introduced which would place additional undue burdens on corporations formed under the laws of New York State, including bills which would:

  • Require that corporations obtain approval of a majority of shareholders before making any political donations or expenditures on communications intended to encourage the public to contact a government official regarding legislation, public policy, or regulations.
  • Mandate that every corporation whose shares are traded on a stock exchange or in the over-the-counter market adopt onerous and costly measures to provide shareholders not physically present at a shareholders’ meeting an opportunity to participate or cast proxies via remote electronic communication.

The Business Council has consistently argued that New York State should develop corporate law that makes incorporation under New York State more attractive. Currently, the vast majority of New York companies are incorporated under the laws of Delaware, which provides clear and consistent standards regarding corporate governance.


2011 will bring a new Administration to Albany and a new opportunity shape the future of New York State.

Unfortunately, the state’s daunting fiscal problems will continue into the next Administration. Until they are addressed head on, the new Governor’s ability to launch other policy initiatives will be limited. Reducing spending and taxes, and achieving long-term fiscal stability for the state, is job one.

Fiscal stability over the long term is a key component in any effort to improve the state’s business climate. It is crucial for the state to become more competitive and more attractive for private investment, so we can assure that the state will participate fully in the national economic recovery.

In this plan, we attempt to focus on issues that we know are of priority to our large, and diverse membership, and offer practical, implementable solutions to some of the state’s more pressing problems.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to share the viewpoints and concerns of importance to The Business Council and our members across the state.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the Cuomo administration, Senate and Assembly on any issue addressed in this plan, and in supporting their efforts to restore the economic strength of the Empire State.