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A one-two punch for the Southern Tier

Officials in the Southern Tier expressed disappointment over the ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing and the state Gaming Commission Sighting Board’s decision to turn down two proposals for licenses, one in the Binghamton area and another in Tioga County.

Speaking with Gannett reporter Jon Campbell, Senate Deputy Republican Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton said the “disappointment looms very heavy.”

“This is devastating to our region, a region that has been struggling day in and day out,” he said. “And then to add on top of that the decision not to move forward with fracking this morning was another blow to the Southern Tier.”

Before the casino decision was announced, Governor Cuomo said it was a “legitimate question” to ask what the state can do to help jump start the Binghamton and Elmira economies, which have regularly trailed other areas of the state in job growth in recent years. Binghamton lost 300 jobs between October 2013 and October 2014, while Elmira added just 300, according to the state Department of Labor.

Cuomo said the state’s challenge is to make sure that the region has the economic incentive to thrive, without fracking or a casino. He said supporters of fracking have often asked him the question: “If not this, then what?”

“They need jobs, and they need income, and what’s the alternative to fracking?” Cuomo told reporters. “And I think that’s a very good question, and I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative for that community for safe, clean economic development.”

Rebuild New York Now campaigns for infrastructure awareness

Rebuild New York Now, a broad-based coalition, which includes The Business Council, is seeking to raise public awareness about the issues impacting New York State’s infrastructure. The coalition has released television and radio advertisements entitled “Tipping Point” as part of an overall media campaign that will run statewide and highlight New York’s infrastructure crisis.

The 30-second TV and 60-second radio spots were released at an Albany press conference along with local elected officials, members of organized labor and private businesses. This diverse coalition stood together to highlight the state of disrepair of New York State’s infrastructure and call for a renewed commitment to infrastructure investment.

You can watch “Tipping Point” TV here and listen to “Tipping Point” Radio here. Scripts can be found below.

“Tipping Point” TV Script:

New York is facing a crisis. Transportation systems are falling apart. Another harsh winter is here. New York drivers are dodging pot holes if they’re lucky, facing expensive repairs if they’re not. We’re sending our children to school on poor roads. Fixing our infrastructure will create tens of thousands of jobs, protect our families and revitalize New York. Visit rebuild New York now dot org. Learn how we can fix New York’s infrastructure crisis.

“Tipping Point” Radio Script:

New York is facing a crisis. Transportation systems are falling apart. Another harsh winter is here. New York drivers are dodging pot holes if they’re lucky, and facing expensive repairs if they’re not. Even worse, we’re sending our children to school on these poor roads and bridges every day. It’s dangerous. Unacceptable. And, needs to change. New Yorkers are demanding real infrastructure investment that protects our families and revitalizes our state. And, studies show that for every billion spent on infrastructure repair over 28,000 jobs are created. That’s 28,000 good paying jobs to stimulate New York’s economy. And build safer roads and bridges for you and your family. Jobs. Safety. Infrastructure. Visit rebuild N Y now dot org and learn how we can fix New York’s infrastructure crisis.
Paid for by Rebuild New York Now.

For information on Rebuild New York Now and the campaign please click here.

Statement on Education Commissioner John King’s resignation

“The Business Council thanks John King for his service and dedication to all of New York’s students, and for his courage in challenging the status quo. Change is never easy, but change is what is needed so that our public schools uphold high educational standards. Commissioner King understands how important it is for New York schools to provide all students with an education that ensures they can compete in the global economy.

“The Business Council urges the Board of Regents to select a Commissioner of Education who will carry forward John King’s progress and focus on high academic standards, accountability and providing choices that meet the needs of all students.”

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO, The Business Council of New York State

The Business Council of Westchester hosts forum on business engagement in education

The Business Council of Westchester, in partnership with the Public Policy Institute of New York State (PPI) and the Committee for Economic Development (CED), hosted a forum on Wednesday, Dec. 10 on the state’s new K-12 education standards and the role that businesses can play to support them.

Dr. Salvador Fernandez, executive director of the School of Achievement, New York City Department of Education, provided an educator’s perspective on the new college- and career-ready standards. Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, and Allison Armour-Garb, an education consultant for PPI, spoke about how the employer community can support the standards’ implementation to help cultivate a globally competitive workforce and provide an overview of the standards’ development, respectively.

“For most businesses as well as schools, having an objective way to determine progress isn’t radical or earth-shattering — it’s standard operating procedure,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “We need such practices, and our children deserve no less. These assessments should be seen as a positive tool to ensure our students have developed the foundational knowledge and skills they will need for college and the workforce.”

“The economic imperative for attaining higher education has never been greater, but too many students throughout New York and the nation remain unprepared,” said Michael Petro, Executive Vice President at CED. “Implementing these high-quality K-12 standards will put students on a pathway to flourish in both college and their careers.”

“Businesses across the state rely on the education system to prepare students for careers in the 21st century economy. Unfortunately, as evident by the growing skills gap, there is a disconnect between what students are learning in school and what they need to know to succeed in the work world,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council. “Innovative partnerships like the New York State Pathways in Technology Early High School program and preservation of the Common Core standards are crucial in helping students develop skills with real-world applicability.”

About the Committee for Economic Development
The Committee for Economic Development (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues. CED’s work centers on the pursuit of seven core principles: sustainable capitalism, long-term economic growth, efficient fiscal & regulatory policy, competitive & open markets, globally competitive workforce, equal economic opportunity, and non-partisanship in the nation’s interest. CED’s research falls under four issue areas: fiscal health, education, global competitiveness, and democratic institutions. Learn more about CED at www.ced.org, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Another Voice: Lift the state’s moratorium on fracking

In a Buffalo News Op-Ed, Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corp., and author of “The Fracking Truth, ” urges the Cuomo administration to lift the state’s now six-year-old moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

In the Op-Ed, Faulker writes, “Job growth must be Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top priority over the next four years. New York’s unemployment rate is still well above 6 percent. Over half a million state residents are out of work.

“The governor’s best option for revitalizing the local job market is clear: rescind the moratorium on fracking. Driven by activist hysteria, then-Gov. David A. Paterson prohibited the practice in 2010.

“That hysteria has since been firmly refuted by science. Fracking poses virtually zero risk to the environment. And allowing oil and gas drillers to get back to work will stir robust job creation throughout the state.

“Fracking uses highly pressurized mixtures of water and sand, along with very small amounts of certain chemicals, to capture oil and natural gas embedded in underground rock formations. Green activists worry fracking contaminates the drinking water near drill sites. That claim has been heavily studied and revealed as baseless. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never reported a case of fracking causing groundwater contamination.

“Meanwhile, the economic benefits of fracking are very real.

“Fracking operations already support 2 million jobs nationwide and add nearly $300 billion to the U.S. economy every year.

“New York’s southern neighbor, Pennsylvania, is a major beneficiary of fracking’s economic rewards. More than 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs are tied to oil and gas extraction. And these are exactly the kind of positions New York legislators are looking to cultivate locally, paying, on average, about $62,000 per year.

“The switch to natural gas can make a huge impact on citizens’ health. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the state and its residents have saved up to $37 billion in reduced health care costs as a result of better air quality.

“Soon enough, lifting New York’s fracking moratorium won’t just be good policy – it will be a political imperative. The public is catching on to the fact that new fracking means new jobs.

“New York voters just overwhelmingly re-elected Cuomo. He should repay that support by taking action guaranteed to boost their job prospects. Lifting the fracking moratorium would do wonders for New York’s economy.”

Six out of 10 upstate urban schools fail 90 percent of students

Six out of 10 upstate urban schools fail 90 percent of students according to new statewide report issued by Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter school organization.

The report says that in 58 percent of schools in the “Big Four” cities—Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers—90 percent or more of children failed this year’s English and math exams or were deemed unprepared for college. Only four schools in those cities graduate a majority of students who are proficient on state exams or college ready, according to the report.

For example, in 42 Buffalo schools that enroll more than 21,000 children, “no more than 1 in 10 students is academically proficient or college ready,” according to the report. The only two schools where at least half the students are proficient or college ready serve mostly white students, although the average school in the district is only 20 percent white, the report said.

The report concludes, “New jobs and new industries are emerging throughout New York State. But the widespread failure of public schools jeopardizes this growth—especially in urban areas outside New York City.”

The complete report can be found here.

Don’t be “foolish” with state surplus

In an editorial, the Staten Island Advance adds its voice to The Business Council’s call for state leaders to use the state’s estimated $5 billion in surplus money for infrastructure improvements.

“The surplus money would bring a one-shot infusion of revenue, not a permanent increase in the revenue stream. So calls to use it to increase funding for education or health care, for example, are foolish.

“What happens after the $5 billion is exhausted? The people of the state would be left with recurring annual bills permanently ratcheted up based upon the one-time infusion.

“Better to spend the money on a one-time fix of the state’s roads and bridges that will hold for a while.”

Read the complete editorial here.

Draft air pollution rule could cost New York jobs, raise energy costs

Facing a court order to issue a draft air pollution rule before December 1, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a proposal that could be the costliest regulation of all time.

A new study by NERA Economic Consulting commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers reveals that a more 60 ppb ozone standard could reduce GDP by $270 billion per year and carry a compliance price tag of $2.2 trillion from 2017 to 2040, increasing energy costs and placing millions of jobs at risk.

In New York the study predicts such a standard could potentially cause a $399 billion loss in Gross State Product from 2017 to 2040 and the loss of 235,241 jobs or job equivalents per year. The rule would also increase New York residential electricity and natural gas rates and force the eventual shutdown at all coal-fired generating capacity in the state.

At this price, the NAM estimates that it would be the most expensive regulation the U.S. government has ever issued.

The Business Council opposes the draft rule and urges members to express opposition to the proposal by sending a letter from the manufacturing works website. The Business Council will will update members regarding the latest news surrounding the issue.

NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons issued this statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of an expanded ozone standard:

“Manufacturers in the United States are working hard for a manufacturing comeback, attempting to utilize America’s unmatched energy resources, building hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new facilities across the country. These are the facilities that make advanced cars and trucks, steel pipelines, fertilizer to grow our crops and roofing and insulation that keep our energy bills down. This new ozone regulation threatens to be the most expensive ever imposed on industry in America and could jeopardize recent progress in manufacturing by placing massive new costs on manufacturers and closing off counties and states to new business by blocking projects at the permitting stage.

“This new standard comes at the same time dozens of other new EPA regulations are being imposed that collectively place increased costs, burdens and delays on manufacturers, threaten our international competitiveness and make it nearly impossible to grow jobs. Before the Obama Administration moves the goalposts with yet another set of requirements that will make it more difficult for manufacturers across the country, they need to allow existing ozone standards to be implemented and give time to American businesses to meet those already stringent and onerous requirements.”

Business Council CEO: NY should repeal the Scaffold Law to maximize infrastructure investment

In an op-ed published in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of the Business Council, says “New York has a unique opportunity to jump-start its  infrastructure program, by using $5 billion in one-time state revenues for repair and replacement, and a chance to maximize the return on its investments by extending design-build contracting and repealing the Scaffold Law.

“It is encouraging to see consensus building around using a large portion of the state’s $5 billion, one-time settlement income for rebuilding public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water, sewer and others. It makes sense to use one-shot revenues for capital projects rather than recurring expenses.

“It would make even more sense for the state to adopt key reforms to ensure taxpayers get the biggest bang for their infrastructure buck. They include repealing the antiquated and excessively expensive Scaffold Law and extending and expanding “design-build” project authority without costly add-ons.”

You can read the entire op-ed on the Syracuse.com Website.

Con Edison Wins Award for Outstanding System-Wide Reliability

Con Edison has been named winner of the 2014 Outstanding System Reliability Award by PA Consulting Group. The award recognizes the PA Consulting Group ReliabilityOne™ regional award recipient that demonstrated superior annual system-wide reliability performance for its customers. Con Edison was also named best in the Northeast Region.

“Our top priority is meeting the energy requirements of New Yorkers safely and reliably,” said Robert Schimmenti, Con Edison senior vice president, Electric Operations. “Earning national recognition is a tribute to the Con Edison women and men who deliver electricity to the world’s greatest city, as well as to nearby Westchester County. This honor is a testament to their efforts, and I’m proud to accept this award on their behalf.”

Con Edison is in the middle of its four-year $1-billion storm hardening program in the wake of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Some of the investments already have paid dividends, including the installation of 3,000 devices that isolate and clear temporary faults on overhead electric systems, and more than 150 “smart switches” that minimize outages caused by fallen trees. Over a mile of flood walls and 260 pieces of submersible equipment also have been installed.

All utilities operating electric delivery networks in North America are eligible for consideration for the ReliabilityOne™ Award. There are a total of five regional awards including Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Plains, and West. After provisional recipients are selected, each company undergoes an on-site certification process, which provides an independent review and confirmation of the policies, processes and systems used to collect, analyze and report a company’s reliability results.

“Utilities are on the doorstep of a technological leap that will set new expectations for how companies handle reliability, and really, all aspects of their business,” said Jeff Lewis, PA’s ReliabilityOne™ program director. “Con Edison has shown a commitment to reliability that will serve as a cornerstone for its customers as new advances are adopted to further improve response and restoration time.”