I think it is apropo that Capital Tonight has been talking to those on the left and right of the looming fiscal cliff that is facing New York, and really most states across the country. The last year and a half has cemented the term “mandate relief” into our political verbiage, and with good reason.
As I have stated many times before, the property tax cap was not the “silver bullet” that was going to solve all of our ills. In fact, the NFIB/NY position was always that it needed to be paired with significant immediate and long term mandate relief. Thirteen months after the tax cap was signed into law, with the exception of some medicaid and pension reform, we have not seen any mandate relief. And it begs the question…why?
Many want to peg mandate relief as a business versus public employee union issue. Some make it a Republican versus Democrat issue. But I think the last few weeks have shown this to be a problem that crosses all political lines. Think about it. Former Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch (a Democrat) issued a report a few weeks ago that highlights many of the issues that are plaguing our schools and communities, while threatening our financial future. These are no surprise. Medicaid, public pensions and health care. All of which, he states, need significant fiscal attention.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner (a Democrat) has been at the forefront of this discussion. She has been warning for months that the City of Syracuse is facing enormous fiscal issues, directly related to skyrocketing pension and health care costs. The ills of Syracuse are not unique. Yonkers is in a similar situation. More schools and communities will soon follow.
It will take tremendous leadership and bi-partisan collaboration to sensibly solve these problems. It will take leaders of our unions to work with business and municipal leaders to fix our state’s economic and financial future. That is what makes the Let NY Work coalition special. Leaders from business, school districts and municipalities all working together to fix these problems. We battled on the tax cap, but now are working as one. If we can do it, others should take notice and follow suit.
The objective of mandate relief is to set a new course for our state. One that will provide the high level of education our children need. Which will allow the critical services provided by our communities to be affordable and sustained. Ensures that we have more than enough economic opportunities for entrepreneurs large and small. This is not a utopia. This could be New York.
We need more leaders, in both parties, to make this a priority. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb has been discussing these issues for months. He needs more partners. The Republicans and Democrats in Albany need to start taking these issues seriously. They need to start listening to our city mayors and town supervisors. To our school superintendents and business leaders. These problems are not going away and are getting worse. Leaders of our public and private sector unions need to join in. The political rhetoric that they typically use only worsens the situation. Raising taxes are not a solution. They need to understand that our schools, communities and jobs are at stake. They need to join us in this effort.
I am in to do my part to get this done. I know I have some partners on both sides of the aisle and tax cap debate that are as well. This needs to be a priority in Albany starting now.