2013: The Legislative Season Aheadposted by Brian Kolb on Friday January 4th 2:44pm
It is the beginning of a new year and a new Legislative Session in Albany. On Wednesday, January 9th, the Governor will lay out his agenda in his State of the State address. This speech kicks off the start of the 2013 legislative session, where my Legislative colleagues and I will come together to tackle the task of making our state a better place to work, live and raise a family by restoring fiscal accountability, fixing our economy and reducing the size and scope of government for taxpayers.
I am returning to Albany this year with a continued sense of optimism. In my book, the past two Legislative Sessions were the most productive in New York's history. We worked together in a bipartisan fashion to get things done and I am eager to get back to the people’s work. With that in mind, I would like to share with you my New Year’s resolutions for 2013.
MY FIRST RESOLUTION: WORK TOGETHER TO COMBAT THE FISCAL CHALLENGES FACING NEW YORK
Last summer I discussed a report issued by the State Budget Crisis Task Force, a non-partisan group of respected public policy experts, which provided a much needed wake-up call in Albany about the potentially disastrous effects of the growing cost of operating our state and local governments. Top culprits include mandated spending programs and underfunded pension obligations. You can read the Task Force's report at http://www.statebudgetcrisis.org.
As I told the audience in a recent forum at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, “Medicaid is out of control, and we are all paying for it.” According to the State Budget Crisis Task Force report, the top six issues we need to tackle include Medicaid spending growth, underfunded retirement plans, eroding tax bases, State budget laws and practices that hinder fiscal stability, the effects of federal deficit reduction and local government fiscal stress.
Quite frankly, the folks on the State Budget Crisis Task Force got it right when they said these challenges threaten state government’s investment in priorities such as educating our children and making sure our roads and bridges are safe. Not fixing these problems now will cost taxpayers more to borrow money in the future and could even affect the state’s ability to provide the essential services our communities rely upon.
MY SMART SOLUTIONS TO CHART A COURSE BACK TO PROSPERITY IN 2013
In the coming weeks I will be reintroducing legislation that would fix these current issues, including measures that would reduce Medicaid mandate expenses, place a cap on state spending, place a permanent moratorium on Albany's unfunded mandates and shrink the size and cost of state government.
MY SECOND RESOLUTION: REINVIGORATE THE ECONOMY AND CREATE NEW PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS
I will make economic growth and private sector job creation a priority in 2013 - keeping the focus in Albany on one thing: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. There are not enough good-paying private sector jobs to keep our children and grandchildren here in New York.
Prior to entering public service in the State Assembly, I served as president of Refractron Technologies and was a co-founder of the North American Filter Corporation. As the only Legislative leader in state government that has started and run successful companies, I know that we must remove the regulatory barriers that cripple private sector job creation; support high-tech education programs at our community colleges; transform State Agencies so they work with, instead of against, job creators and support the pro-job environment New Yorkers have been demanding.
MY SMART SOLUTIONS TO ENCOURAGE PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION IN THE EMPIRE STATE
Our State Agencies must become more responsive to both taxpayers and small business owners. At the top of my list is a much-needed reform of the struggling New York State Thruway Authority. Transportation costs affect the price of most everything we buy, and financial mismanagement of the New York State Thruway results in the higher tolls that mean layoffs at small businesses from Buffalo to New York City and an increase in the cost of the basic products we use on a daily basis. My Thruway Authority Accountability Act would restore accountability, increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars by making structural reforms and statutory changes to the Thruway Authority.
Job creators from across the state agree – high-tech industry is the future of what I call New York’s “innovation economy.” These 21st century businesses create good-paying jobs and give our young people the careers they need to stay close to their hometowns and raise the next generation of New Yorkers right here in the Empire State. I will be advocating for the expansion of New York’s “innovation economy” as part of my pro-growth, pro-jobs legislative agenda, which will improve our economy, increase private sector employment and provide support for businesses. Stay tuned for more details on this in my future columns!
What do you think? I want to hear from YOU! Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, e-mail me at email@example.com, find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.