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Manufacturers visit Albany ... plus

Last week was another busy week in Albany. I wanted to make you aware of a couple highlights that took place during the week.

Manufacturers urge reduction in government spending

Manufacturers visited Albany during the fourth annual Manufacturing Day. About 75 manufacturers visited Albany to talk with lawmakers about their concerns. There was also a panel discussion on Tuesday hosted by Manufacturers Alliance of New York. I was happy to be a member on that panel. One of the hopes voiced repeatedly last week was New York needs a better business climate. Many who spoke said they'd rather see a friendlier business climate than say, for example, one-time tax credits. This makes sense. Creating a friendlier business climate would go a long way toward retaining jobs and brain power, which would lead to long-term economic growth.

One of the ways in which our state can make this happen is by reducing energy costs for business. Gov. Cuomo seems to understand this burden on manufacturers as well as hospitals and colleges. He has proposed Recharge New York in his budget, an energy savings plan for business. This plan seeks to double the cheaper power available that Power for Jobs currently offers. Power for Jobs, New York's current energy savings program for big employers, has been at risk of disappearing in the last two budget sessions and businesses cannot afford to have this happen. Recharge New York would further reduce energy costs for businesses in New York so we can keep the jobs that we have and it would be permanent. New York's average retail electric prices are the third-highest in the country, up to twice the rates in southern states. Much like Power for Jobs, certain provisions apply in order to continue to receive the benefit.

Parks, Historic Sites Protected

This week the Assembly passed a measure that would ensure that the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation could not close state parks or historic sites without a public hearing. The office would also have to prepare a draft report that provides justification and rationale for the closure. The bill (A693) also requires the public hearing be conducted at least four months before the proposed closure date. I was happy to sponsor and support this in the Assembly. Last year's fiasco of putting Fort Ontario on a closure list without any public input could have ended in disaster. Luckily, the community rallied to save its fort but other sites succumbed to the state's budgetary shortfall. This bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, would ensure our historic sites and state parks not close in such a haphazard manner, if at all, and ensure a public voice.

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