What do you write about on a business community blog on a day like this? The economic "stimulus" package that spends billions of dollars on initiatives that won't create one job, or the state's solution to the recession of raising taxes - particularly on health insurance?
On top of that, even today, organized labor is taking their fight to the streets, with a march on Albany in support of IDA wage mandates, and in Washington to kick off their nationwide efforts to see the Employee Free Choice Act become a reality.
Let's start with the state: the FIRST bill passed by the new Senate Majority was done, of course, without debate, and includes heaping an estimated $420MM in costs (through taxes and cost shifts) onto health insurance policy-holders, elimination of $306MM from NYPA (some of which funded the Power for Jobs program) and a redirection of last month's SUNY tuition increase away from the schools and into the State's general fund. "Every New Yorker must share the pain," the governor keeps saying... Well, it doesn't feel like it. Take this, from today's Times-Union: "For instance, $31,739 planned for the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council is cut to $25,391; $6.5 million previously booked for the Hudson-Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial celebration is slashed to $5 million." Ouch... How will they survive? Has anyone else noticed that there are no negative comments coming out of organized labor related to last night's debacle?
Stimulus package: While there are some good things in the "stimulus" package, there is an equal amount of government waste - Washington political pet programs that will add to taxpayers' burden without adding jobs - as everyone outside of government across the nation seems to understand is the first priority. The spokespeople for the package need to stop referencing the building of the Eisenhower Insterstate System as their model for economic stimulus, because no one in their right mind thinks they're anywhere close to creating the economic development opportunities of a half-century ago.
One sticking point is the "Buy American" component of the stimulus package, which has business groups in both the U.S. and Canada up-in-arms. While buying American-made products reflects patriotism and on paper appears would provide a quicker path to economic recovery, it is most certainly shortsighted. You don't have to look far past Buffalo Niagara to see - our logistics industry is thriving due to our border location. Over 500,000 jobs in New York State are supported by CanAm trade, and over $1M in trade and commerce crosses the CanAm border every minute! Canada has said that if a "Buy American" policy is included in the stimulus package (and the Senate is reportedly trying to actually strengthen it), they'll be forced to respond with similar initiatives.
As far as the organized labor demonstrations... All we can say is "Game On." Stay tuned for our advocacy efforts to save the economy from special interest paybacks that will only cost American jobs.