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For Release — Wednesday, October 19, 2005

LAWMAKERS EARN HIGHER GRADES ON 2005 'VOTE FOR JOBS INDEX,'
A REPORT CARD TO HELP CITIZENS AND EMPLOYERS EVALUATE STATE LAWMAKERS

ALBANY—State legislators generally scored higher on The Business Council's annual legislative report card than they did last year. The Council today released the report card, the "Vote for Jobs Index," which is designed to help citizens and business evaluate the voting records of individual legislators on issues that affect the health of New York’s business climate.

This year's results show that 2005 was a better year for pro-business legislation in Albany than was 2004. There were 19 legislators who received a grade of A (up from three last year), 130 who received a grade of B (compared to 71 last year), 56 who earned a grade of C (compared to 137 last year), and three who received a grade of D (compared to eight last year).

Legislators who earned a grade of A include 12 Senate Republicans, three Assembly Democrats, and four Assembly Republicans.

High scoring legislators included Senators Wright, Defrancisco and Volker, and Assembly member DelMonte, who championed extension and reform of economic development power programs—of particular importance to the upstate economy—and who were generally supportive of our pro-business agenda. Likewise, Senator Skelos and Assemblyman Morelle successfully advocated key business tax reforms.

"Because it requires many decisions that affect spending, taxing, borrowing, and managing the state's finances, the state budget is always a priority for the business community," Walsh said. "This year, after two decades of late budgets and mounting concerns over spending and taxes in New York, we were gratified to see a budget that phased-out the 2003 tax increases on schedule, that finally enacted the crucial single-sales factor tax reform, and that did so in a budget that was essentially on time."

How grades are determined: Legislators' grades on the Vote for Jobs Index reflect their actions or inactions on bills that address legislative priorities identified by The Council earlier this year.

The Vote for Jobs Index is based on bills in four priority areas: taxes, energy and the environment, economic development, and employee benefits.

Legislators earned points for a vote that is consistent with The Council's position and lost points for votes at odds with The Council's position. Additional points could be awarded to (or taken away from) legislators who sponsored and championed bills of interest to The Council. If legislators had no record on a priority issue, they received a "0" on that issue. This is designed to address the fact that many priority issues are never addressed because relevant bills are not allowed onto the floor for a vote.

Issues considered on this report card: Specific bills considered in the 2005 report card include some which The Business Council favored and others which the Council opposed. Legislators' grades reflect their stances on a number of bills and issues. These issues include: various bills related to extending programs that govern the distribution of reduced-rate power; reform and expansion of the state’s Empire Zone program; passage of an on-time 2005 budget with spending restraint, no new tax increases, and on-schedule expiration of the 2003 tax increases; renewal of the state’s lapsed power plant-siting law; steps to make health insurance more affordable for employers; a cap on growth in counties' share of Medicaid spending; workers' comp reform and changes in how workers' comp surcharges are assessed on self-insured trusts; procurement-related bills; bills to limit employers' flexibility in moving jobs between states; the proposed constitutional amendment to give state legislators more power in the budget-making process; new health-insurance mandates; changes to the state's academic standards; and various tort reform proposals.

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