There is some good news on the local economic front! According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution - a non-partisan, independent and widely respected public policy "think tank" - Rochester rates among the 20 strongest regional economies in the nation. Additionally, the State Department of Labor recently reported that our Rochester community added 9,000 jobs between August 2010 and August 2011, a growth rate of 1.8 percent that was the best among New York's major metro areas. Job well done!
However, the findings were not entirely rosy as the assessment also found that Rochester's job growth has recently slowed. I believe the reasons for this apparent slowing of job growth include the lingering effects of a prolonged national economic recession, compounded by New York's high taxes, crushing costs of government and nation-leading operating expenses such as energy, transportation, workers' comp, litigation and regulation. Combined, these factors act as a drag on our economy and make owning and operating a business in the Empire State much tougher than it should be.
WHAT IS THE COST OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS?
Included in that economic drag are all the rules, regulations and red tape that Albany and Washington, D.C. enact. All these government regulations impose unseen - yet very real - costs on job creators, taxpayers and the economy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute researched how much federal rules, regulations and red tape costs our economy - and the finding may shock you. Before I give the answer, what is your guess as to the federal government's total regulatory costs on the economy? $100 million? Maybe $500 million? How about $1 billion? All decent guesses, but nonetheless wrong. In fact, those estimates are not even in the ballpark!
$1.75 trillion. That is the actual cost to our economy from the federal government's 81,405 pages of rules, regulations and red tape. This $1.75 trillion figure - an awfully big number with twelve zeroes behind it - amounts to a hidden tax saddling private sector business with an enormous financial burden that is passed directly onto consumers.
WHAT IS THE COST OF STATE REGULATIONS?
Moving from the federal level to state government, what is the estimated cost of Albany's rules, regulations and red tape?
Unknown. The answer is "unknown" because nobody in state government - 212 legislators, Governor Cuomo, 105 State Agencies - seems to have a handle on just how many regulations have been enacted, continue to be enacted, and what their cumulative price tag amounts to. State government has grown so big, costly and unwieldy that it is practically impossible to project its true fiscal impact in the area of rules, regulations and red tape. Here is what we do know:
According to its publisher, the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) publication consists of 82 volumes, meaning the NYCRR consists of approximately 49,200 pages;
If you were to lay all these pages out side by side, New York State's rules and regulations would stretch out roughly 4.4 miles (23,000 feet); and
This is the equivalent of taking 13 Freedom Towers and laying them on their side, or placing 140 olympic-sized swimming pools - or 76.6 football fields - side by side.
Think about that for a second: Albany's nearly 50,000 pages of rules, regulations and red tape literally stretch over four miles! Can anyone reading this column still believe that regulatory reform and streamlining the state bureaucracy are not top priorities?
REAL SOLUTIONS FOR REGULATORY RELIEF
It is not enough to simply diagnose the problems that are slowing down private sector job creation in the Empire State - we need a prescription that will cure the maladies and result in a healthy economy, one free from the pain caused by excessive rules, regulations and red tape. Here are some real solutions:
Roll back state regulations unrelated to health and safety and place a moratorium on the issuance of new regulations until we can determine their actual cost;
Require a true cost-benefit analysis of newly proposed regulations to determine their potential impact on New York's economy, businesses and taxpayers; and
Allow New York's post-Hurricane Irene economic redevelopment efforts to go forward without being stymied by state rules, regulations and red tape so storm-impacted communities can repair, rebuild and recover.
These simple steps effectively cut through miles of state and federal government red tape that tangles up job creation and stymies the private sector. Giving New York's job creators some much-needed regulatory relief is an important step in our continued economic recovery and creating more private sector jobs.
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.