By Sen. James Seward
The end of the 2015 state legislative session came a bit later than scheduled, but did include a number of victories for the people of my district.
New relief for middle-class taxpayers, a four-year extension of the landmark property tax cap, and constructive education reforms were among the items approved just before the final gavel fell.
I will be providing additional details on these and other items in the coming weeks.
The closing weeks also included senate approval of a bill (S.5353A) that would promote mandate relief and flexibility for local governments by tailoring regulatory requirements to meet the specific needs and capabilities of municipalities.
These improvements to the regulatory process would promote efficiency and save money for local governments.
Unfortunately, the state assembly failed to even consider this measure which would help local governments keep costs down and, in turn, hold the line on property taxes.
The property tax cap, which has saved taxpayers $7.6 billion over the past three years, can only truly succeed if mandate relief measures are enacted to free local governments from spending money on items that are not local priorities.
Regulatory mandates that take a “one size fits all” approach can create hardships and prevent local governments from pursuing more efficient and cost-effective solutions.
As I mentioned at the start of this column, the property tax cap has been extended for four years and that is a positive step.
Some mandate relief measures have been adopted in recent years, but unfortunately, many more have been scoffed at by the state assembly and the governor.
The property tax cap is a helpful tool when it comes to cutting taxes and stimulating economic growth.
I applaud our local municipal and school leaders for working extremely hard to stay within the cap, but now it is time to give them some help.
Mandate relief is the best way to provide that help.
In addition the senate approved a bill (S.4319) to cut government red tape and help protect businesses from over-zealous state regulations that could hurt the continued growth of the economy.
The bill would require the state to conduct a more thorough examination of regulatory impacts on jobs and employment opportunities.
The legislation would ensure that the potential impacts of rules and regulations developed for businesses by state agencies are fully examined.
Currently, the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) only requires agencies to analyze whether a proposed rule will affect jobs and issue a job impact statement.
This current approach does not fully consider many of the potentially critical factors that would negatively affect business performance or result in job losses.
The updated legislation would improve the evaluations performed by the state when assessing the potential impact that regulations may have on jobs and employment opportunities by requiring:
• The commissioners of both the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Department of Econo-mic Devel-op–ment to review any statement issued by a state agency that finds that a proposed regulation may have a substantial and adverse impact on jobs;
• Agencies to perform additional analysis if they are unable to determine the potential impact of a proposed regulation, and would prevent the state from enacting the regulation until they have performed more analysis;
• Agencies to make methodology, data, and resources available for public review; and
• Job impact reports to include whether or not a significant change in employment is necessary.
It would also include whether a new regulation will have an effect on average wage levels, hours, and/or duration of employment, as well as other factors that could represent a substantial adverse impact on workers’ incomes and economic security.
This measure, which has also been approved by the state assembly, is a significant step toward ensuring new state regulations will not hamper job growth in New York.