The late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan, one of New York State's most distinguished voices to ever serve in the United States Senate, is credited with the famous quote that, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts." Senator Moynihan was referring to how statistics often get twisted and manipulated during political discourse, leading to suspect conclusions.
Here is one fact that is unquestioned and not subject to political spin: New York State continues to lead America in terms of population loss as more and more of our best and brightest continue leaving the Empire State for other destinations. This "brain drain" hurts our state and further diminishes two of New York's most important resources: our human and intellectual capital.
According to a recent report from the nonpartisan, independent Empire Center for New York State Policy, based on Census data, our state leads the nation in population loss, as 1.6 million New Yorkers left from 2000 to 2010. As a percentage of total population, New York's net domestic migration loss during this time frame was the highest of all 50 states. Inevitably, our state's loss has been Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina's gain - all states with thriving economies that are creating more private-sector jobs and opportunities for their citizens. Folks, the out-migration of our fellow New Yorkers to these states is no coincidence!
The findings from the Empire Center report "Empire State's Half-Century Exodus: A Population Migration Overview" - available at www.empirecenter.org - are inescapable and confirm a painful, obvious truth: New York State's lack of jobs, nation-leading taxes, and anti-business regulatory policies are driving families and businesses away.
New Yorkers are voting with their feet, plain and simple.
Albany's fiscal irresponsibility - such as doing nothing about the $95 million Unemployment Insurance (UI) Interest Assessment Surcharge imposed on our already struggling small businesses - continues sending the message that New York is not open for business. This "hidden" tax is just the latest example of state government nickel-and-diming job creators through bureaucratic policies and why so many people have left New York.
New York State does not need any more bureaucracy - we need to unleash the very same entrepreneurial spirit that led to New York being the undisputed national leader in areas of financial services, manufacturing and jobs.
For the better part of two years, I have been publicly saying that New York needs an immediate course correction in the form of capping state spending, cutting taxes on businesses and transforming our State Agencies from job destroyers into job creators. This is the public policy agenda Albany must pursue. We all experienced the disappointment of the federal stimulus program not delivering the economic "rebound" taxpayers were promised back in 2009. Based on the federal stimulus' $787 billion price tag, we were told the result would be jobs, jobs, jobs. However, instead of jobs we got debt, deficits and 9.1 percent national unemployment.
Instead of more government programs and policies that fall short, we need to try a new approach focused on getting government off the backs and out of the way of job creators. Here are some specific policies Albany could enact TODAY that would have an immediate, positive impact on job creators and getting New York's economy out of the financial ditch:
Stop the unemployment insurance surcharge: The State Department of Labor recently sent a notice to small businesses that they must foot the bill for a $95 million Unemployment Insurance Surcharge. New York's struggling job creators can't afford this multi-million dollar tax that will destroy jobs;
Suspent government regulations: Each day, state agencies issue costly new regulations and unfunded mandates that job creators must follow. Suspending government regulations and unfunded mandates unless directly related to health and safety - would allow New York's job creators a chance to catch their breath, reduce operating costs and invest in job creation; and
Cap state spending: One of the many reasons why New York leads the nation in high taxes is because state government spends too much, while taxpayers and job creators are expected to pick up the tab for big government. Enacting a state spending cap will force Albany to finally get serious about controlling spending, not just in an election year, but every year.
BELIEVE IN NEW YORK
I am a proud, lifelong New Yorker. The Empire State is my home, I believe in New York. I also believe that we do not have to simply sit back and accept things like our continued loss of population, jobs and opportunities. If we demand that Albany focus on fixing our economy and work with job creators, we will stop the Empire State's brain drain and restore New York to its status as a beacon of economic opportunity and national excellence.
Brian M. Kolb of Canandaigua is Republican minority leader in the New York Assembly.