Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just one legislative session left in his first term. He should spend it addressing the only four-letter word that we haven't heard from a New York Democrat this year: J-O-B-S.
The governor has demonstrated his socially liberal bona fides. He passed gay marriage, the SAFE Act, increased taxes on "the rich" and pursued further legalization of late-term abortions.
The governor's push to make New York "the progressive capital of the nation" might help him in a potential presidential primary, but there are other superlatives worthy of his attention: New York is the least business-friendly, highest taxed, least economically free state, with the highest debt per capita.
To turn New York around, we need dramatic tax cuts aimed at creating jobs. We're one of a minority of states that treat capital gains as ordinary income. History shows that when capital gains rates are cut, revenue rises. And a reduction in our capital gains tax rate would incentivize businesses to set up shop here. Yet no such proposal has been considered in constructing any of Cuomo's three budgets.
Upstate New York's manufacturing industry has been decimated. Companies like Kodak and IBM are shuttering their offices and taking their jobs with them. Northrop Grumman will move 850 jobs off Long Island by next year, leaving just 550 workers out of a work force that exceeded 25,000 in the 1980s. To lure them back, manufacturing companies should be exempt from state taxes.
New York's punishing regulatory regime also provides an incentive for businesses to relocate. This year, the State Senate's Republican-independent coalition proposed a Berger Commission-style task force: a commission with extraordinary power to review state rules and regulations and repeal those that are deemed unnecessary. It could have provided small businesses with a jump-start, and is worthy of consideration when the Legislature reconvenes.
Beyond slashing taxes and regulations, the state can play a proactive role in laying the groundwork for job creation. New York's workforce development scheme is a jumbled mess: 28 different funding schemes are accountable to 11 agencies and plagued by a pervasive lack of collaboration.
Focusing these funds on our community college job training programs would provide a better training environment and more meaningful career counseling thanks to their relationships with local industries.
The governor promised similar reforms in this year's State of the State address. He should deliver on his promise next session.
Instead, we got "Start-Up NY." Cuomo's heart was in the right place, but start-ups consume capital and rarely have income to tax. Cuomo's plan to create jobs with casinos won't get the job done, either. Casinos may provide revenue for the government, but they're a blight on communities and prey off of vulnerable citizens. They're regressive taxation, not a tool for economic deployment.
Upstate New York in particular has been the victim of more than 30 years of misleading statements and failed economic policies from Democratic politicians.
The parade of broken promises dates back to the Mario Cuomo administration, when he built his jobs proposal around new prisons in upstate, many of which are now being decommissioned. In 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton promised her ascent to the U.S. Senate would bring 200,000 jobs to upstate. Joblessness rose during her tenure.
Or consider Kirsten Gillibrand, who holds news conferences to announce pieces of federal legislation aimed at creating jobs upstate, only to stand by while each bill dies in committee.
Upstate New York has been getting a raw deal. Cuomo must use the last legislative session of this term to propose substantive tax changes, regulatory and workforce development regimes that will grow our economy and create jobs.
The clock is ticking.