Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Monday, January 6, 2003


ALBANY—New York State lawmakers in 2003 should focus on creating more jobs in the future, not on the state's recent economic travails, a new white paper from The Business Council concludes.

"Our job in 2003 is to look ahead-not back," The Council argues in Back to Business: An Agenda for New York State 2003, which The Council released today. "The recession is waning. New York is back on its feet, and it's time to get back to work on our long-term effort to build a better future for this state and its people.

"One goal should override all others: more jobs."

Back to Business, which summarizes The Council's legislative priorities for 2003.

The paper urges a legislative agenda for 2003 that focuses on six priorities:

Tame spending. Tax cuts and other business-friendly initiatives in recent years created strong economic growth which "yielded a revenue boom that enabled government to increase spending far faster than inflation, year after year," the paper says.

"But that rate of spending growth simply cannot be sustained in a recession-as New York's current fiscal difficulties demonstrate. New York State doesn't have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem."

If overall state-funds spending had been held to the rate of inflation over the last five years, the state would have saved $7.9 billion in the current fiscal year, the paper adds. "Spending is the problem, and spending restraint is the only solution that will genuinely address the problem."

Strengthen the foundations of growth. Back to Business recommends that Albany

Get a grip on health care. New York's out-of-control health costs are breaking the budgets of both governments and businesses, and depriving hundreds of thousands of people of proper access to insurance and care, Back to Business says. Instead of targeting resources where they are most needed, New York's health-care priority "has been to prop up the most expensive and least efficient part of the system, the hospital sector," the paper says.

The Council is urging the state to set the goal of cutting health-care costs overall by 10 percent and, at the same time, identifying a health-insurance policy that could cut employers' costs by 10 percent.

Cut the cost of providing jobs. In particular, New York must reform its workers' comp system, which is ideal for neither employers nor workers because it makes New York a high-cost, low-benefit state. New York should adopt the approach of a neighboring state such as Connecticut, which "has a common-sense approach that provides an appealing combination of higher benefits for the injured and lower costs for employers. Labor is better off; business is better off. Why not just copy it?"

Revive our upstate cities. With depressingly empty downtowns and industrial districts, upstate cities represent both our economic problems and a potential asset. State initiatives to improve cities should focus on two goals:

Relieve local taxpayers. Despite the success of Gov. Pataki and state lawmakers in cutting state taxes, New York's overall burden remains one of the nation's highest. That's because local taxes remain the state's biggest competitive disadvantage. Two mandate reforms in Albany can ease this problem:

"New York needs to get back to business in 2003 - continuing to build the foundations for growth and prosperity for all our citizens," Back to Business concludes.