Government Affairs Albany UpdateMay 2, 2008
- Budget Reports Highlight
- DEC Unveils Draft Solid Waste Management Facility Permitting Policy
- Report Ranks NY Tort Climate as Among the Worst
- Washington Update
Two new reports illustrate the state's growing financial problems. In response to these reports, Business Council President Kenneth Adams released a statement saying, “The forecast for deficits over the next four years is stunning. Business as usual at the Capitol will not fix this. A new fiscal discipline is needed in this state to create economic growth, good jobs and strong communities.” The Business Council urged the Governor and legislature to begin to take dramatic action immediately to lower spending and reduce taxes. Our complete statements are available here.
Among its key facts and figures:
- The final FY 2009 budget increased General Fund spending by 5.6 percent, and all funds spending by 4.8 percent.
- It projected a dramatic increase in out-year budget gaps, totaling $21.5 billion over the next three budget years, a $6 billion increase over projections based on the Executive Budget proposed in January.
- The budget includes $1.3 billion in “revenue actions,” including $664 million in new or increased business taxes and fees; as well as $1.9 billion in non-recurring revenues.
- It reported $2.8 billion in “savings,” when compared to proposed or projected spending growth levels, with reductions occurring primarily in health spending ($828 million), across the board spending cuts ($710 million), and a delay in increased STAR rebates ($354 million).
Among its “highlights”:
- The FY 2009 budget was in balance, but based on “optimistic assumptions” that may not materialize, including anticipated increases in tax revenues based on new and increased tax levies, and up to $2.5 billion from “one shots” such as income from health plan conversions, improved tax audits and others.
- The FY 2009 budget includes more than $11 billion in new state debt, primarily for SUNY and CUNY ($9.3 billion) and economic development initiatives ($1.7 billion).
DiNapoli concluded that, “It's clear this budget continues New York's long but not-so-glorious traditions of spending more than the state takes in and borrowing too much.”
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed new procedures regarding the review and approval of solid waste management facility permits. The draft policy seeks to maximize DEC's use of the permitting process to facilitate comprehensive solid waste management planning and ensure best practices in solid waste management facility operations. It aims to increase materials recovery, reduce the environmental impact of waste management, reduce greenhouse gas generation, extend the useful life of the state's landfill capacity resources, and minimize landfill encroachment on the state's natural resources.
The proposal has raised a number of concerns regarding consistency with statutory and regulatory requirements. The Business Council is evaluating the proposal, and development comments for submission to DEC. We urge affected members to review this draft policy and provide us with input at your earliest convenience.
The U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2008 Report released by The Pacific Research Institute, comparing the legal climates of all 50 states, ranked New York 48th worst overall because of high tort costs and litigation risks. The Tort Liability Index found that New York, ranked 50th on an astounding 18 of 28 input variables. Report co-author Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan said, “New York is a ‘sinner' state in this edition of the Index as well as the last.”
Co-authors Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan and Hovannes Abramyan said that the Tort Liability Index was developed as a tool for governors and state legislators to assess their tort systems and to enact laws that will improve the business climates of their states. It is also useful for business leaders who are deciding where to start a new business, build a new plant, expand operations, introduce a new product, or hire more employees. States like New York, that rank at the bottom of the barrel in the study, are less likely to lead in these areas.
The Business Council is a founding member of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, a broad based coalition of businesses and professions, municipalities and consumers fighting for meaningful reform of New York State's tort laws. The U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2008 Report is available at www.NYLawsuitReform.org.
Senator Baucus, Panel Seek National Agenda To Ensure Competitiveness
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and panelists at a Council on Competitiveness event this week called for policymakers and the private sector to leverage untapped opportunities, particularly in the service economy. The briefing coincided with the release of a report by the Council that advocates for the abandonment of stereotypes associated with low-skill, low-wage jobs in the service economy. According to the paper, more than three-quarters of all US jobs are in the service economy and are driving demand for complex skill sets like problem solving, communications, entrepreneurship, computational analysis and collaboration.
The Council President who called for a national “innovation imperative” and comprehensive plans for building “skills for sustainability” were joined by other featured speakers including James Spohrer, Director of Almaden Service Research of IBM; and former Lockheed Martin Chairman Norm Augustine.