Monthly Archives: January 2015

New York schools among least efficient when it comes to educating fourth and eighth graders

A survey rating the efficiency of the nation’s largest public school systems finds many in New York are among the least efficient.

Wallet Hub, a social media company that allows people to search for and compare financial products and that also does all kinds of public data-based state and local rankings, is out with a new ranking of the most and least efficient public systems.

They used a simple method to calculate efficiency — measuring fourth and eighth grade test scores and pitting that against the cost per-student. They did, however make adjustments for poverty, median income, single parent families and families where English is not the primary language.

What they found is not encouraging for New York: Five of the 10 least-efficient school systems were in the Empire State, with Syracuse, New York, Buffalo, Yonkers and Rochester taking those low spots.

The most efficient were largely in the Sun Belt or South, though several large northern cities with socio-economic pressures similar to the New York schools, were significantly more efficient than the New York districts including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and Grand Rapids and Detroit in Michigan.

You can find the full report on the ranking here.

Support for tax cap

In a recent editorial, the Middletown Times Herald-Record endorsed making permanent the state’s 2-percent real property tax cap.

The Business Council has set making the cap permanent as a priority for the current legislative session.

The newspaper cites The Business Council’s support of the tax cap in urging readers contact their lawmakers in support of the cap.

The editorial is a thorough explanation of tax cap and its relationship to New York City rent control laws that are set to expire in the current session.

You can read the complete editorial here.

IBM recognized by New York State DEC with Environmental Excellence Award

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has recognized Business Council member IBM with its Environmental Excellence Award for IBM’s innovation, commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility and economic viability.

IBM was recognized for its Chilled Water Optimization Project in Dutchess County as an effort that demonstrates their commitment to the environment. East Fishkill, IBM’s largest facility, supports the significant energy demand of semiconductor cleanroom space. This project required meticulous collaboration between all aspects of the facility’s operations team because any degradation of the cleanroom environment would have significant negative impacts. The chilled water plant is among the most efficient of its type and saves almost 2.5 million kWh of energy which translates to avoiding 5,400 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. That equates to taking more than 1,000 cars off the road.

The award was presented at the 11th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards celebration, which was held at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SUNY Polytechnic Institute at their NanoFab South Rotunda and Auditorium in Albany.

“This year’s awards recognize innovative programs, smart business decisions and unique collaborative initiatives that improve New York’s environment and contribute to a stronger economy,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Through the Environmental Excellence Awards, DEC is able to showcase those who are setting the example for others across New York.

Business Council president and CEO discusses state spending and minimum wage in radio interview

Maintaining fiscal discipline and keeping year-over-year state spending growth at 2 percent or less is critical to improving the state’s business climate, the President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., said in an Albany radio interview this morning.

Speaking with Susan Arbetter, host of WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom, Briccetti said the past four years of spending control has contributed to the excess of revenue over expenses that the state now has.

“I just returned from the Council of State Chambers of Commerce national meeting and there, chamber executives from other states were concerned with deficits in their home-state budgets, that is not the case in New York and that we do not have a state budget deficit is a testament to the Governor and to the Legislature,” said Briccetti.

Beyond spending control, Briccetti said The Business Council’s second priority is to promote actions that will lower the cost of doing business in the state. She cited reform of the Scaffold Law which assigns all liability for gravity-related, on-the-job injuries to employers as an example. “New York is the only state that has such a law,” said Briccetti.

The Business Council and other supporters of reforming the law cite the increased cost of liability insurance for contractors that drives up the overall cost of all construction in the state.

Briccetti also said The Business Council opposes new wage mandates and is opposed to the proposed increase in the state minimum wage.

She cited recent U.S. Census data showing the vast percentage of adult poverty is not based on wage levels, but on whether and how much an individual worked. Just 2.7 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who worked fulltime, regardless of wage, were in poverty.

“The end result will be fewer jobs created and potential job losses that will adversely impact both small businesses and entry level workers. If raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs available, it won’t reduce poverty,” said Briccetti.

You can listen to the complete interview by clicking here.

Business Council president and CEO sets legislative agenda

In a wide-ranging interview with reporter David Robinson of the Albany Business Review last week, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, discussed her priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session that began last week in Albany.

High on the list are, exercising continued restraint to keep overall state spending growth under 2 percent, retiring the 18-A energy assessment and applying the majority of the state’s estimated $5 billion surplus to infrastructure improvements such as roads, bridges and other public construction.

You can read the entire interview here.

Casino siting board may consider more applications for Southern Tier

New York’s casino siting board will hold a meeting in Manhattan on January 13 to discuss reopening the bidding process to new applicants for a casino license in the Southern Tier region.

Governor Cuomo earlier requested that the siting board reopen the process for proposals for a casino license in what the Governor described as “the true Southern Tier,” meaning the part of the state adjacent to the Pennsylvania border.

In the statement sent Friday, Gaming Commission chairman Mark Gearan said that helping the Southern Tier met the intent of the state law in allowing casinos in the first place.

“The intent of the gaming statute was to benefit economically distressed Upstate areas experiencing high levels of unemployment. Clearly, the Southern Tier meets this criterion. A process to generate new proposals focused on the Southern Tier may create an additional opportunity to identify an appropriately structured and capitalized gaming facility that could bring the region important economic development and employment,” Gearan said.

Both Gearan and siting board chairman Kevin Law made clear the Board will not consider opening up either the Catskills/Hudson Valley or Capital regions for additional applications. The Board authorized licenses in the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County and in Schenectady County.

The siting board authorized a casino license in the Southern Tier Region in the Seneca County community of Tyre.

Southern Tier businesspeople and elected officials have complained that location, between Syracuse and Rochester, is really part of the Finger Lakes area and will not benefit their region.

Quotable Cuomo

The Glens Falls Post Star’s Maury Thompson researched some of former governor Mario Cuomo’s speeches as part of his paper’s coverage of the death of the former governor, including this from a 1986 address at The Business Council’s Annual Meeting.

“Shouldn’t we be teaching some kind of — God forbid you use the word — morality?”

Some others:

“Know as much about the political facts as you know about the starting line-up of the Super Bowl.” — March 1979 speech to Hudson Falls Chamber of Commerce

“Actually, I should have gotten two loons.” — joking when he announced a large state land acquisition deal at a ceremony in Westport in July 1986 when the Adirondack Council, an environmental group, honored him as Conservationist of the Year. The award is a life-size replica of a loon.