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This Week in Government Affairs
January 10, 2013

State of the State

Governor Cuomo presented his 2013 State of the State message yesterday; the complete address is available here.

The Governor extended his commitment to controlling state spending and avoiding new or increased broad-based taxes. In our view, New York is in a better position today due to the enactment of critical reforms backed by The Business Council, including a 2 percent cap on the growth of property taxes; pension reforms; a new, permanent economic development low-cost power program and a fiscally responsible state budget.

We also applaud the Governor’s focus on improving the performance of the state’s education and workforce development programs to assure that we have the skilled workforce necessary to support future economic progress. He also proposes important unemployment insurance and workers compensation program reforms designed to provide across-the-board savings for business.

Recognizing both the economic challenges and opportunities facing New York, and in particular upstate New York, he has proposed several innovative approaches to supporting new business growth, especially in the technology sector. We look forward to reviewing the details of his economic development proposals.

However, we also have concerns regarding several initiatives that could impose new costs or new barriers on business. These include: significant new energy initiatives funded, at least in part, through increased rates or assessments; new “pay equity”-related enforcement mechanisms; an increased state minimum wage; tighter regional carbon emission limits that will increase energy costs on consumers; and others.

As we start a new year and a new legislative session, The Business Council looks forward to seeing the details on the Governor’s proposals and continuing our strong working relationships with the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly.

The following provides an issue by issue overview of the State of the State message:

Campaign Finance Reform

In addition to Election Law reforms relating to voting and voter registration, the Governor proposed reforms that would impact the involvement of interest groups in the political process. These include:

Construction

In addition to citing progress on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, the Governor proposed:

Economic Development

Numerous provisions of the State of the State message had economic development impacts. Specific economic development initiatives include:

Education / Workforce Development

Linking job creation and education improvements, the State of the State message included recommendations to:

Noting that there are currently 210,000 unfilled private sector jobs in New York, the Governor underscored the need for programs that match labor force demands and offered a proposal to help bridge the gap between high-tech research and in-state commercialization. The Governor recommended changing the manner in which community colleges receive state funding from the current enrollment-based formula to one based on student success—gauged by an alignment of programs with regional workforce needs and student achievement in terms of certification and placement in good-paying jobs.

Energy

The State of State included an expansive set of energy initiatives, including:

Health Care

A relatively limited health care agenda included:

Labor

Major initiatives include the following:

Technology

The Governor proposed:

Tourism

Tourism initiatives include:

Unemployment Insurance

The Governor proposes reforming the unemployment insurance system to increase benefits while providing employers with more predictability by:

Workers' Compensation

The Governor will introduce legislation to reduce the cost and improve the administration of the workers’ compensation system by:

The Governor projects that the proposals to reform the Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance programs will result in $1.3 billion in savings to businesses.

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