Priorities in New Year: Cut spending, mandates and help job creation

— I recently listed the highlights of2011 in this space. They included an on-time budget, a property tax cap, middle class income tax relief, and finally, a Power for Jobs plan that won’t expire, which includes a cost-savings measure that manufacturers and large employers can count on. Last year laid the groundwork for more progress that can be made in 2012.

Job creation

We need to get out of the way of the private sector and listen to their pleas for less paperwork, less red tape and less government, which gets in the way of job creation. We hear about New York’s regulations being extreme. It is true. If you were to lay down the amount of pages of New York’s regulations, it would equal 4.4 miles! No state needs this many regulations. By lowering taxes, reducing regulations, this would create more economic certainty so job creators can invest with confidence.

Mandate relief

I’m hopeful that we can complement the property tax cap that passed last year with meaningful mandate relief. Mandates are when government requires a locality to do something, such as provide a service or program. Unfunded mandates create problems for counties, school districts, cities, towns and villages. Property tax levies in New York grew by 73 percent from 1998 to2008 - more than twice the rate of inflation during that period. Now that property taxes are capped, their growth has been limited but cost drivers of unfunded mandates, which are a big reason property taxes increased to begin with, continue to exist for localities. A property tax cap without mandate relief has left a gap for localities - one hard to fill without making deep cuts into budgets, staff, services or all of the above.

Continue to cut spending

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: New York does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. In 2001, the enacted budget was $85 billion. In 2011, just 10years later, the budget was at $132 billion. Inflation can't be blamed for a $47 billion spending increase over a 10-yearperiod. State government has grown to the point where it is unaffordable. We did not cut spending this year enough, and in fact, in December the Legislature passed an income tax adjustment that will raise more revenues, rather than finding ways we can trim our bloated budget when the tax receipts came in short in 2011.

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