The Post Standard
June 16, 2013
The New York State Legislature is in the home stretch with a long list of items on its agenda – and that’s just the stuff that we know about. Issues that aren’t on the radar have a way of popping up as the session draws to a close, as happened last week with Senate legislation for an Off-Track Betting parlor in Syracuse.
Still, let’s keep the focus on the big things the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo can – and should — accomplish this week.
Attack corruption in state government.
Cuomo was in Syracuse last week stumping for a new set of public corruption crimes, stricter limits on campaign contributions and party spending on behalf of candidates, and a system of public campaign financing to match small campaign contributions from individuals. The Legislature has little appetite for these measures. Even Cuomo allies are questioning his commitment to spending the political capital necessary to get them passed.
But let us not forget two state legislators were arrested earlier this year, and another resigned, after federal investigations uncovered alleged bribes and self-enriching schemes. They were just the latest in a long line of disgraced lawmakers. Their leaders haven’t been able to stop them, and have even abetted their bad behavior. It’s time they cleaned up their act.
Take a bold step to improve New York’s business climate.
Cuomo proposed creating tax-free zones around SUNY campuses, mostly Upstate, to attract new employers to the state and to capitalize on the innovations coming out of our public university system. It was met with immediate cries of “unfair” from the state’s existing businesses, who have been shouldering the tax burden. So do both: Make sure the tax-free zones are available only to businesses that are new to New York state, and cut taxes for existing businesses. Or watch Texas Gov. Rick Perry poach our businesses and young people with his state’s no-tax promise.
Mandate equal pay for women. End pregnancy discrimination. Stop sexual slavery.
Yes, you read that right. New York state has antiquated laws that allow trafficking in humans – mainly young, vulnerable girls – to occur with frightening regularity. Thousands are held in sexual slavery. Proposed changes to New York law would give police and prosecutors the tools to stop it.
Human trafficking, equal pay and pregnancy discrimination are three of the 10 planks of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda. Debate over the 10th plank, bringing New York’s abortion laws into line with Roe v. Wade, has sucked all the air out of Albany, while the other nine planks enjoy broad support. The governor appears willing to let the whole agenda go down in flames if the abortion plank is left out. Senate Republicans appear prepared to light the match.
However you come down on the abortion question, it would be a travesty for the women of New York to pass up agreement on the nine merely to score political points on the one.