O'Mara: Cuomo agenda stays strong on jobs and taxes, falls short on mandate relief

Thomas F. O'Mara

January 09, 2013

Albany, N.Y., January 9— State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) said today that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s third State of the State message to the Legislature focuses on the “overriding challenges of our time.”

Following the governor’s message earlier today, O’Mara said, “Governor Cuomo zeroes in on the overriding challenges of our time, including and especially the decline of the upstate economy.  We have to confront a weak economy that’s not producing enough jobs or generating enough confidence or optimism throughout the upstate business community, and a tax burden that still makes it hard to make ends meet in New York State. I agree with Governor Cuomo’s ongoing focus on jobs and creating a better business climate for our employers, and our workers and their families.  We especially need to keep doing better for upstate manufacturers and small businesses. We’re facing a plateful of tough issues and challenges in 2013.  But everything else that we hope to accomplish in the future depends on a strong and sustainable twenty-first century economy.”

[Watch Senator O'Mara's reaction]
O’Mara, who’s in his second term representing New York’s 58th Senate District, joined his Senate and Assembly colleagues in the Empire State Plaza’s Convention Center for Cuomo’s address today – the official kickoff to the 2013 legislative session.

The governor’s speech, O’Mara noted, was delivered one day after the release of a new statewide poll showing that upstate manufacturers and other upstate business leaders are far from optimistic about the state’s economic future.  According to the sixth annual survey from the Siena College Research Institute and First Niagara Bank, confidence among these business leaders is at its lowest level in three years.  Government regulation and taxes were cited among the top reasons for the negative outlook.   O’Mara said the Siena College/First Niagara findings pinpoint the priority that more needs to be done to improve the state’s business climate. 

“We’ve laid a foundation over the past two years for a long-term, bipartisan commitment to property tax relief, less state spending and private-sector job growth.  After too many years of dysfunction and inaction, we’ve finally started remaking and rebuilding New York government in fundamental ways.  Now we need to keep building on this foundation of cooperative action, economic growth and fiscal responsibility in 2013.  We need to keep building and growing.  There can’t be any let up,” said O’Mara. 

O’Mara stressed that while the 2013 session presents  the governor and legislators with a range of key issues and challenges, Cuomo was on point by focusing today’s State of the State message on the need to keep building on the governmental and political successes of the past two years  that have produced on-time state budgets, state budgets that have contained no new or increased state taxes and fees, year-to-year state spending decreases, an overhaul of the state bureaucracy and a revitalized commitment to the upstate economy. 
While O’Mara generally praised Cuomo for identifying many of the key issues facing New York this year, he criticized the governor’s remarks for failing to offer specific new measures to provide mandate relief for local governments and taxpayers.  He said that while one landmark mandate relief action gets underway in 2013 – the state takeover of local Medicaid cost growth, which Cuomo and the Legislature approved as part of the 2012-2013 state budget – much more needs to be done.  

“It’s a crushing burden, it’s unfair and we haven’t done nearly enough to once and for all shake off the state’s habit of shifting the burden of unfunded mandates and other costs onto the backs of local property taxpayers,” said O’Mara.

O’Mara’s constituents can register their reactions to the governor’s State of the State through a “quick poll” currently posted on his Senate website, omara.nysenate.gov.  The poll asks,  “Does Governor Andrew Cuomo’s third State of the State message put New York government on the right track in 2013?”        

[Watch a replay and find a copy of the Governor's address HERE.]