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From the desk of Assemblyman Ed Ra: February 8, 2012

Defending our Community in 2012

Stalemate in Washington and a rocky national economy has actually created an opportunity for the New York State Legislature this January. The back-and-forth partisan rhetoric at the national level acts as a roadblock to financial stability and growth for Long Island families and businesses. It will be crucial during the 2012 legislative session to once and for all address private sector job growth and a lagging economy to avoid similar perils here in New York. Now is the time when the Legislature needs to lead by example and take charge in order to stabilize our local economy and communities.

This certainly is not be the first time that Albany has faced an economic crisis stemming from an outcry from the public. Some of the state’s greatest accomplishments have come during difficult economic periods: for example, look no further than last year’s property tax cap, on-time state budget and Power for Jobs program. The Legislature has been tasked before with addressing such dire economic situations, because as New Yorkers, we have demanded it. We can do it again.

Now, the opportunity to improve the business climate in New York State and set the stage to help businesses hire once again has never been more important. Long Islanders are demanding that Albany pull the wool from its eyes, step away from the “business as usual” attitude, and pursue a path which promotes, rather than inhibits, businesses and job growth.     

The number one way in which Albany can make our state more business friendly comes down to one word: spending. Political conformity and special interests have created an impasse to sound fiscal policy. Now, New Yorkers learn that the state’s own fiscal projections have worsened. Albany cannot take a step back to just a few short years ago and tax, fee, and regulate businesses and homeowners. Economic turnaround and future prosperity will require Albany to take a hard and honest look at spending versus revenue.

Last week, I received a phone call from a small business owner. He was calling to inform me that after 18 years in business, he had decided to close his business and leave New York for good. When I asked him why, he gave one answer: the cost of doing business in New York. An unfortunate situation, he’s not alone. The Legislature cannot wait any longer to address the job-killing regulations and red tape that Albany routinely imposes on businesses. There are 49,000 pages of them. The Legislature, working with our state agencies, must reevaluate our corporate income tax, sales tax, and a slate of expensive energy taxes so the small businesses and their employees can achieve prosperity.

Even during a time period when our national economy was booming, New York still lagged behind. According to the Empire Center for New York State Policy, New York’s job base grew at just one-fifth the national rate from 1993 to 2008. In the midst of the longest recession since the Great Depression, New York is poised to grow at an even lower rate in the coming years. Our children and grandchildren deserve to grow up and live in a state that welcomes businesses and jobs, not one that closes the door on them.

Governor Cuomo laid out an ambitious plan for moving New York forward in his recent State of the State address. Through unfunded mandate relief, infrastructure improvements and energy innovation, we can create private sector jobs that are critically needed. It is my hope during the 2012 legislative session that we lead by example and work to make New York, our families, and businesses stronger and healthier than ever before.