Moving Forward On Priority Policies

The final state spending plan left much to be desired, and Albany must now look at the measures needed to fill in the gaps during the remainder of the 2017 legislative session. The 2017-18 budget falls short in several important areas: New Yorkers still suffer under the worst tax burden in America; Upstate’s employment growth is lagging far behind New York City and the rest of the country; and billions in state taxpayer dollars are still being spent without enough oversight.  
 
As we move forward, the Legislature must focus on priorities that make New York more affordable, our public programs more accountable, and advance common-sense initiatives that provide real benefits to families and communities throughout the state.
 
LOOKING AHEAD & WHERE THE FOCUS SHOULD BE
 
Provide More Help For Small Businesses: The recently passed Workers’ Compensation reforms are a good first step, but more action needs to follow to support local job creators. The final budget included tax breaks for union dues, but no tax breaks for small businesses. I will continue to promote the Small Business Full Employment Act (A.5423), which, if enacted, would give tax credits to businesses, including a credit for merely maintaining their workforce.
 
Overdue Economic Development Reform: Albany missed a chance to address another area hampering the state’s economy— wasteful, corrupt economic development programs that do not deliver results for taxpayers. The final budget requires the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to issue an annual report measuring the impact of the programs under their purview and related industry trends. An annual report isn’t the answer. The Assembly Minority has introduced legislation (A.5657) to raise the level of accountability and efficiency of economic development agencies. Comprehensive reform is the only way to ensure taxpayers are getting a proper return on their investment.
 
Protect Our Communities By Passing Brittany’s Law: A vote on the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (A.6609), also known as “Brittany’s Law,” has been continually held up in committee by the Assembly Majority. Despite overwhelmingly passing the Senate seven times, it has yet to reach the Assembly floor. If passed, it would save lives and protect victims of domestic violence by creating a registry of violent felony offenders. It’s inexcusable that legislation designed to combat domestic abuse and protect New Yorkers has been needlessly stalled. 
 
Directly Address Unfunded Mandates: Under the new budget, counties are required to convene a panel charged with looking at consolidation and shared services. For many county executives, this is a redundant and unnecessary exercise that will produce no meaningful results. The true driver of New York’s high property taxes are the unfunded mandates handed down to localities by Albany bureaucrats. Costly programs forced onto counties are ultimately funded by property taxes. My bill (A.5628) would place a moratorium on any new unfunded mandates. Rather than a gimmick, we need a solution that tackles the issue where it starts.
 
There is a tremendous amount of work ahead of us on some of the most important issues facing New Yorkers. The budget process generates headlines and politically driven policies, but that doesn’t mean everything has been adequately addressed. New York should be more affordable, more efficient, and more accountable. Over the next several months, the Legislature must implement solutions to questions and concerns that have lingered for too long.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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