(September 20, 2007)
Governor pledges no tax increases next year despite looming deficit
He also praises Council efforts to highlight economic woes, urges 'optimism' going forward
Thanking The Business Council "for being such a strong partner and a great friend," New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Wednesday pledged not to raise taxes next year despite a looming budget deficit that he estimated at $4 billion.
"Next year, we must not, we cannot and in fact we will not raise taxes," the Governor said. the Governor told about 400 business leaders at The Business Council's Annual Meeting at the Sagamore in Bolton Landing, Warren County.
"In fact, we will continue to reduce taxes," he added, saying that New York last year cut property taxes by $1.3 billion and business taxes by $150 million.
The Governor also praised The Business Council for highlighting New York's long-term economic struggles with the August 30 publication of its Economic Growth Index.
"It is our obligation to be honest about the hard reality on the ground," he said of the Index. "If you don't acknowledge that reality, how can you begin to change it?"
At the same time, saying "the words of The Business Council are enormously influential," the Governor urged the Council to help New York State move forward by balancing its measurements of economic performance with optimism-driven efforts to help New York State improve those measurements.
"Optimism—tempered by realism—is the mindset needed to rebuild New York's economy to compete on the global stage," Governor Spitzer said. "That is the root of our partnership. That is the goal we share. We are making great progress, and if we keep working together, I am confident that we will get there."
The Governor also praised The Business Council and its president and CEO, Kenneth Adams, for their role in shaping a historic workers' compensation reform agreement that became law last March.
"We [saved employers] 20 percent. 20.5 percent to be exact, saving New York's businesses $1.2 billion," Governor Spitzer said. "In one year, from rhetoric to reality: $1.2 billion."
The Governor reviewed his economic-development strategy based on "three pillars:" adapting to the innovation, economy, reducing the cost of doing business, and strengthening our infrastructure. Within these categories, he addressed several policy priorities, including The Business Council's top priority of finding ways to ease health-care cost, easing the burden of New York's Wicks Law, and improving New York's supply of energy.
The Governor said he has asked the Upstate leaders of Empire State Development, New York's lead economic-develop agency, to develop "regional economic blueprints" to hone plans for revival in specific parts of Upstate.
At the same event, The Business Council presented the prestigious Corning Award for Excellence to Alair Townsend, former deputy mayor of New York City in the Koch administration and long-time publisher of Crain's New York Business.
In presenting the award, Linda Sanford, senior vice president of IBM and co-chairman of The Business Council, praised Townsend for a long career of diverse achievements: helping rescue New York City from its fiscal crisis in the 1970s, turning Crain's into a vibrant, must-read weekly in New York City's power circles, and devoting unusual energy and commitment to a variety of civic, cultural, and volunteer efforts.
In accepting the award, Townsend warned that New York's business climate will not improve unless the state's business and government sectors stop "talking past each other" and begin to address the many state policies that undermine growth.