New York Statism: Era of the Tax Man must give way to Era of the Axe Man

In 1966, George Harrison of The Beatles hit the nail right on the head:

(If you drive a car) – I’ll tax the street;
(If you try to sit) – I’ll tax your seat;
(If you get too cold) – I’ll tax the heat;
(If you take a walk) – I’ll tax your feet.

In an era of overspending and over-taxation, Harrison wrote the song to express his disappointment in just how much of his hard-earned cash was going to the government. Little did he know the song “Taxman” would ring throughout the decades as a battle cry of sorts for the private sector in New York State and throughout the country.

Dating back to the Pataki Administration, and running through the Spitzer and Paterson reigns, small businesses and entrepreneurs have been thrown through the ringer and hung out to dry – higher taxes, higher regulations. They’ve been left with little encouragement to pursue the American dream.

Enterprise Development Director Peter Gregory and I recently took a 2-day trip to Albany to attend the NYS Economic Development Corporation Annual Conference. We met with state leaders, engaged in a panel discussion on emerging technologies and innovation. Unfortunately, we still found getting our message through harder than pushing a snowball up a hill in the middle of July.

According the Business Council of New York State, if the state had maintained a budget in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) level over the past 16 years, it is projected that the current budget would be $28 billion less than it is today. There are more than 18 million New York State residents today. Including authorities, or off-budget subsidiaries, as they are called in the private sector, our 2011 budget is over $200 billion. We’re facing a $10 billion deficit in 2011. The math is staggering.

How can this be overcome? How could the state leaders be so reckless? What we need is an Axe Man.

In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s own words, “New York has no future as the tax capitol of the nation.”

During the Governor’s recent visit to the Hudson Valley, he preached a message of conservatism, noting that the state has operated for far too long on a tax-and-spend mentality. He seems to understand the private sector. He wants to cut spending, reduce the size of state government, and better allocate expenditures.

Even though mismanagement of state finances has contributed to the rise of incubators like Orange County Business Accelerator (We have brought state-of-the-art start-up assistance to 14 early-stage innovators and we are just entering our 63rd week in operation), are they going to pick up where we leave off?

With direction from the Orange County IDA, an agency that has helped to ignite capitalism and innovation, Accelerator clients are poised to create up to 500 real jobs, real close to home with the next five years. If New York State wants to stake proportional claims in the next five years, it’s safe to say that it needs to mature.

In order to rightfully retain its nickname as the Empire State, New York must truly embrace capitalism and entrepreneurism to survive and thrive. Andrew Cuomo (our Axe Man?) must do the same.

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