Session Priorities Include Job Protection, Property Tax Reform, Energy Improvements

As we approach the end of session, I wanted to share with you a few priorities my colleagues and I have set forth and presented to the Governor. We hope to pass legislation before June 22 that protects and creates jobs; preserves Empire Zone benefits for businesses; reforms property taxes and the school aid formula; and enables more nuclear power plants to be built in the near future.

Job Protection: New York needs to create a statewide economic development plan that makes this state more competitive in attracting and creating new private sector jobs, while developing initiatives that retain jobs. Our state has lost more than 160,000 private sector jobs in the last year. With such losses, putting people back to work must rank as our top concern. First, we need to renew Power for Jobs—a program created in 1997 designed to provide low-cost power to businesses committed to creating and retaining jobs in the state. According to the New York State Power Authority, the program currently supports some 241,000 jobs at approximately 480 business and not-for-profit organizations throughout the state.

In an effort to develop green jobs, we should require Empire State Development, the Department of Environmental Conservation, State Ag and Markets and NYSERDA to collaborate and establish a statewide green jobs development and recruitment strategy. Within this framework, we could convert existing companies into green job providers. This program would also broaden the definitions of green jobs to include environmental, agricultural or green power.

A comprehensive plan would replace the jobs lost over time. To that end, I support the Small Business Relief Act (A.5460-A of 2008). This would allow Centers of Excellence companies that have conducted research and development to continue to receive tax benefits when they move into actual manufacturing. This bill would also provide energy tax reduction, reduce property tax burdens and create on-the-job training tax credits for up to 100 employees.

Tax Breaks: We need to uphold Empire Zone (EZ) program contracts with qualified Empire Zone Enterprises for 2008 and 2009. New York State’s Empire Zone program helps businesses combat costs of doing business. In so doing, we uphold our promise to businesses. Likewise, we must strengthen, update and reform EZs so they can serve as even better tools for job creation and investment.

Without a doubt, we need property tax relief. This should include more than providing rebate checks for residents. We should reform the school aid formula so that low-wealth school districts aren’t overtaxing their residents. We also need to cut state spending through legislation that rewards consolidation of services and requires the state to pay for costly mandates it has placed on local governments.

Energy: The electric system within New York is owned and operated by six major investor-owned utilities including the Power Authority of the State of New York, the Long Island Power Authority, 50 municipal and cooperative systems and a number of independent power producers. Over 90 percent of the electricity used in New York is delivered by the six privately-owned companies. I support legislation that would establish a state energy planning board to create a state energy plan. We also need to renew Article X, which would allow more major electric generating facilities to be built. If more power plants were here, it would create more competition in the marketplace, lower the cost of energy and keep more businesses within New York State. This would, in turn, help lower property taxes for residents as well.

If you would like to learn more about any of these proposed laws or if you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling (315) 598-5185.