Monthly Column: Jobs, economic development at the top of this year's to-do list
By Michael H. Ranzenhofer, State Senator - 61st District
With his delivery of the 2012 State of the State Address earlier this month, Governor Cuomo has officially kicked off the start of a new legislative session.
Throughout the 2011 Legislative Session, we ended partisan gridlock by partnering with the Governor to produce real results for taxpayers. In 2012, we must continue the momentum from last year to further deliver results to New Yorkers.
It starts with the passage of a fiscally responsible State budget that again cuts spending and avoids new taxes. The state will again face a budget deficit this year, now projected at $3 billion. Certainly, I was pleased to hear, during the State of the State, the Governor’s commitment to working within spending constraints and opposing the use of taxes to close the budget gap.
As another way to reduce State government expenditures, pension reform was one of the legislative priorities highlighted by the Governor. The costs to school districts and state and local governments will have risen one-hundred percent since 2009 by next year. Legislation should be considered by both houses of the Legislature to create a new pension tier, more similar to retirement plans in the private sector, for future public employees. Another important priority, although not mentioned in the State of the State, is reigning in the spiraling costs of Medicaid.
Most importantly, the critical goal for this year should be ensuring Albany supports policies that will lead to more New Yorkers being hired by the private sector. That is why I am encouraged by the Governor’s proposal to provide $1 billion in multi-year economic development incentives for our region. While all of the details of the incentive still haven’t been announced yet, I am hopeful that the final package will serve to entice businesses to the entire Western New York region to create thousands of jobs.
Western New York stands to benefit from the collaborative efforts of our Regional Economic Development Council. Last December, the council hit a grand slam, being recognized as one of the best plans in the State and receiving over $100 million for 96 economic development projects. The Governor proposed a second round of competitive grants in his State of the State address. Our regional economic development council will have a shot at another $200 million for our region, and I am confident their efforts will again hit another home run.
As outlined by the Governor’s State of the State address, reducing State spending, promoting policies to encourage economic development and enticing the private sector to create jobs will be at the top of the State Legislature’s to-do list. As the 2012 Legislative Session begins, I am hopeful that the Governor and State Legislature can again work together to build upon the progress of last year.
Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst, Clarence and Ken-Ton Bee on January 18, 2012.