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Government Affairs Albany Update

May 2, 2008

Budget Reports

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.

On Thursday, the Division of Budget released its updated financial plan for Fiscal 2009, available on the web.

Among its key facts and figures:

Last Friday, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released his preliminary overview of the final budget.

Among its “highlights”:

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.”

DEC Unveils Draft Solid Waste Management Facility Permitting Policy

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.

Report Ranks NY Tort Climate as Among the Worst

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.

Washington Update

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.

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