Tag Archives: empire center

SEQR ranks high on Senate regulatory problem list

The State Environmental Quality Review process (SEQR) ranks high on the list of New York’s regulatory burdens in a recently released report from the Senate Majority.  A recent Empire Center blog post highlights how this supports the recent call to reform New York’s environmental planning review process.

The report, Streamlining SEQR, said SEQR “can be exploited to produce costly delays and uncertainty for the kind of job-creating projects New York desperately needs and identified needed reforms including the adoption of more concrete deadlines and a defined ‘scoping’ process to identify significant concerns with proposed developments.”

Read the full Empire Center blog post on their website or listen to Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council, and E.J. McMahon, president of The Empire Center, discuss the issue on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom.

In the interview, Pokalsky highlights The Business Council’s work on the issue over the years saying, “We are not asking to get rid of SEQR. We’re asking to make it work. We are not asking for changes in environmental standards but we are asking for a streamlining of the process.”

NY Torch on welfare benefits

Empire Center for New York State Policy’s blog, NY Torch, reported yesterday that a Cato Institute study, The Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off, shows that a full package of basic welfare benefits in New York is now worth $38,004. This makes it the seventh highest ranking state nationwide for benefits.

Study authors conclude that the benefits are so high they create a disincentive to work.

Read more from E.J. McMahon on the NY Torch blog

E.J. McMahon: NY leads nation in 2013 layoffs

E.J. McMahon’s latest NY Torch blog post reports that New York has led the nation in public and private sector layoffs this year.  Research done by the Manhattan-based Stuyvesant Square Consultancy for The Empire Center, shows this as well as a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

New York employers announced 59,207 layoffs through July of this year.

Read more from McMahon on the NY Torch website.

Bringing New York’s economy back

In an op-ed published yesterday in Forbes Magazine, contributor Carl Schramm outlines seven steps New York can take to grow its economy. The piece, prepared for the Empire Center in conjunction with its conference, “Saving Jobs in Upstate New York,” says that although everyone wants an economically strong state, more needs to be done to achieve that goal.

Schramm provides an in-depth historical review of how New York got to where it is today and outlines various scenarios. He provides an ambitious plan that includes: eliminating estate taxes; reducing state spending; improving universities to produce cutting-edge research; providing incentives for scholars to come back to, or remain, affiliated with universities in the state; attracting highly educated immigrants with specialized training; providing students with the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace; and creating a sense of pride in being a “New Yorker.”

Read the full op-ed on Forbes website.

Empire Center: The Economic Effects of Hydrofracturing on Local Economies

PPIHydrofrackingThe following report written by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Andrew Gray forwards The Public Policy Institute of New York State’s (PPI) own 2011 study which showed once Marcellus Shale development began local, state and federal tax revenues could increase by more than $214 million in 2014.

Here is the summary from the Empire Center report that looked at economic development in Pennsylvania:
  • Pennsylvania counties with hydrofractured gas wells have performed better across economic indicators than those that have no wells.
  • The more wells a county contains, the better it performed.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, per-capita income rose by 19 percent in Pennsylvania counties with more than 200 wells, by 14 percent in counties with between 20 and 200 wells, and by 12 percent in counties with fewer than 20 wells.
  • In counties without any hydrofractured wells, income went up by only 8 percent.
  • Counties with the lowest per-capita incomes experienced the most rapid growth.
  • Counties with more than 200 wells added jobs at a 7 percent annual rate over the same time period.
  • Where there was no drilling, or only a few wells, the number of county jobs shrank by 3 percent.
  • Using the Pennsylvania data to project hydrofracking’s effect on New York counties, we find that the income of residents in the 28 New York counties above the Marcellus Shale has the potential to expand by 15 percent or more over the next four years—if the state’s moratorium is lifted.
  • Our data also suggest that had New York allowed its counties to fully exploit the Marcellus Shale, those counties would have seen income-growth rates of up to 15 percent for a given four-year period, or as much as 6 percent more than they are experiencing.

Click here to see the fill report “The Economic Effects of Hydrofracking on Local Economies.


E.J. McMahon: A threat to pension solvency

E.J. McMahon is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the Empire Center for NYS Policy. The following commentary appeared in this morning’s edition of the Times Union:

The state’s largest public union is right. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to “smooth” pensions for local governments and school districts is “a bait-and-switch scheme … that will allow public employers to underfund their pension obligations,” as the Civil Service Employees Association described it last week.

In lieu of fundamental mandate relief, Cuomo wants to give counties, municipalities and school districts the ability to immediately reduce pension contributions by up to 43 percent, and “lock in” a “stable” pension contribution rates for a 25-year period.

This would be accomplished by significantly underfunding the pension systems over the next few years, based on the expectation that the cheaper benefits offered to newly hired workers under Cuomo’s Tier VI pension plan will ultimately yield more than enough savings to make up the difference later in the 25-year period.

There are three problems with the idea:

Even under ideal economic and financial market conditions, it’s likely to be a losing bet for employers — saving them less in the short-term than it would cost them in the long run.

It weakens and increases the financial vulnerability of the pension funds at a time when they have yet to fully recover from their massive losses during the recession, and in the long-term poses greater financial risks for both the funds’ beneficiaries and the funds’ ultimate underwriters, New York’s taxpayers.

It may violate the state constitution’s prohibition on impairment of public retirement benefits.

Fortunately, Cuomo’s plan cannot be implemented without the approval and cooperation of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who is sole trustee of the New York State and Local Retirement System, and the board of trustees of the separately administered New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

It’s hard to see how DiNapoli or the teachers’ fund trustees could find this proposal consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities.

Click here to read more.