Governor’s Address Cause for Hope and Concern

Is the glass half full or half empty?  With yesterday’s State of the State address by Governor Cuomo, once fully digested, it is fair to say that this simple little question could be difficult to answer.

On the one hand, economic development, particularly upstate New York, was one of the first areas discussed.  It is no secret that the upstate economy needs a revitalization and I found this focus to be encouraging.  Going further, elements of regulatory reform in unemployment insurance and workers compensation are exactly what small business in New York needs.  These initiatives taken with what I believe to be a sincere pledge to not raise taxes, can make one wonder what’s not to like?

Then comes the other hand.  Minimum wage is clearly a (and to no surprise) significant agenda item for the Governor.  An initiative surrounding “pay equity” unexpectedly emerged as another.  With the Governor focused on energy initiatives and some tighter emission standards, there could (and would) be increased costs on businesses here as well.  With the exception of minimum wage (we know what that will do), the “devil will be in the details” when we see his budget proposal on January 22nd.

While my statement was positive, it focused on the “glass half full” aspects of his speech.  This statement will change dramatically if those pesky details on the energy and pay equity issues prove to be problematic.

The catch, really, is to avoid reducing costs on one end, while raising them on the other.  This sort of “status quo” policy making is not going to advance this state at all.  But I am getting a head of myself.  Let’s see what this session and budget proposal hold in the next week or two before sounding the alarm too loudly.  As I sit here today, I am cautious.  If you are a business owner, you should be too.

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About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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