State Senator Tom O'Mara Column: "Staying Focused on the Job"

Posted May 17, 2011

On the same week that Governor Andrew Cuomo and key members of his administration embarked on what’s called a “People First Campaign,” I received a copy of an article in the latest edition of Chief Executive magazine.

Now while that’s not a publication you’re likely to find on the table at your doctor’s office or the neighborhood barbershop, you can be sure that it’s being read in boardrooms and all of those other places where significant decisions are made on locating or expanding businesses and industries, creating jobs and making other economic investments. You can bet on it.

The article, “Best/Worst States for Business,” focused on the magazine’s seventh annual report on more than 500 of America’s top business executives who were asked to rank the best states in the nation to do business. Some of the key criteria they took into account included taxation, regulation, workforce quality, and living environment.

Texas came out on top in this year’s ranking. No. 2? North Carolina. No. 3? Florida.

New York State? No. 49. That’s right, second-to-last in the nation.

And are you surprised? In fact, the writer identified New York as part of the “hall of shame” of the worst states for doing business. He further wrote, “Not surprisingly, states with punitive tax and regulatory regimes are punished with lower rankings…While state incentives are always welcome, what CEOs often seek are areas with consistent policies and regulations that allow them to plan, as well as intangible factors such as a state’s overall attitude toward business.”

The full article’s online at

So as the “People First Campaign” got underway and I read this new report, my thought was: Let’s not lose the focus that’s gotten this year’s legislative session off to such a positive start. Some of the very first words delivered to New Yorkers by Governor Cuomo were “jobs, jobs, and jobs.” Cheers went up from every corner of the state. The Senate followed with a new jobs plan focused, in large part, on business tax relief.

And this year’s state budget, with the first year-to-year reduction in state spending in a long time, no new or increased taxes or fees, no new borrowing and some small steps to brighten New York’s business climate, has been widely praised as the beginning of an economic and fiscal turnaround. One such beginning, for example, was Recharge NY (formerly Power for Jobs) that will now allow manufacturers to sign long-term contracts for the lower-cost electricity that allows them to count on consistent and competitive utility costs, plan and make the long-term capital investments that protect and create jobs.

But the budget’s just that, the beginning. And this new report from Chief Executive magazine makes it clear that we have to stay focused, above all else, on actions that will continue this economic and fiscal turnaround – tax relief, regulatory reform, debt reduction, more common sense fiscal practices.

Here’s how one CEO summed it all up: “We need some political backbone to control spending, address out-of-control debts, and use common sense on environmental and other governmental regulations. Quit demonizing business. Who do they think provide real jobs?”

Our region has been fortunate to have many loyal employers whose deep-rooted commitment to this area’s workers has helped us weather many economic storms and, at least, keep holding our own. That’s the bright side.
But the times are getting tougher. The national and global competition is getting fiercer. If we don’t stay focused on beating the drum for actions that keep driving New York’s economic and fiscal renewal, we’re simply going to have more and more citizens and workers hitting the pavement looking for a job -- or for another state to call home.

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