Like Sacramento on the west coast, Albany offers a difficult political environment for most sorts of government reforms that involve fiscal responsibility or limiting government intervention in the economy. That doesn't appear to have stopped New York Governor David Paterson from trying.
In his latest attempt to get New York's fiscal house in order, Paterson has issued an executive order creating a new Regulatory Review and Reform Program to "eliminate or revise antiquated and burdensome regulations on businesses, local governments, health care providers and other regulated entities, and focus the Stateâ€™s regulations on those necessary to retain and strengthen critical protections for public health, safety and welfare," according to the press release. Here's more:
"There are clear examples of times when government regulations are imperative. The economic crisis that our country is currently facing was created, in part, by lax or non-existent regulation on some of our largest financial institutions," said Governor Paterson. "However, a responsive and balanced regulatory system is also vital to the promotion of New York Stateâ€™s economy and the welfare of its citizens. This Executive Order brings New York one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal of widespread fiscal reform, government efficiency and reduced property tax burdens."
Executive Order No. 25 is a significant part of the Governorâ€™s broad agenda to reduce unnecessary burdens and mandates on local governments and businesses, eliminate waste and fraud in government, provide property tax relief to New Yorkers and stimulate the economy. The Executive Order establishes the Review Program as follows:
- The Review Program will be overseen and coordinated by a Review Committee consisting of the Secretary to the Governor, the Counsel to the Governor, the Director of State Operations, the Director of the Budget and the Director of the Governorâ€™s Office of Regulatory Reform.
- This Review Committee will periodically designate a group of State agencies as â€śParticipating Agencies,â€ť which will invite comment from interested parties, affected constituencies and the public on whether existing regulations are unnecessary, unbalanced, or unwise. There will be a 60-day period within which such comments may be submitted.
- The Participating Agencies, in conjunction with the Review Committee, will assess the received responses and comments, as well as any criticism or comment available from public sources and identify for review those regulations that have generated the most widespread or substantive criticism and opposition.
- Within 45 days of the selection of the regulations, the Participating Agencies will complete their analysis of such regulations, using recognized cost benefit principles established by the Governorâ€™s Office of Regulatory Reform and the State Administrative Procedures Act and submit a report and recommendation to the Review Committee.
- Upon its receipt of the report and recommendation, the Review Committee will take appropriate action on the subject regulations. The Review Committee will report the Review Programâ€™s progress to the Governor on a periodic basis. [...]
Kenneth Adams, President and CEO of the Business Council of New York State, Inc. said: "We applaud Governor Paterson's effort to eliminate regulations that make it hard for businesses in New York to create jobs. Private sector job growth is the key to economic recovery. Governor Paterson's proposal on State regulatory reform rightly recognizes that State government needs to remove obstacles to private sector job growth in order for New York's economy to recover. We look forward to working with the Governor as he implements the Regulatory Review and Reform Program."
New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said: "This executive order demonstrates an understanding by Governor David Paterson of the challenges facing New York's local governments and business community. If we are to be a competitive State, attracting and maintaining jobs, we need to eliminate unnecessary and outdated regulations to conform to a 21st century economy."
While all agencies will eventually be reviewed under the new program, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, the Department of Taxation & Finance and the State Liquor Authority are designated as the first agencies to undergo review. For more details, see the Governor's press release and the full executive order.
Critics may point out that the order only requires agencies to sort through between two and 10 regulations each at the end of the day, so there may only be dozens of initial reform recommendations rather than the hundreds that are likely needed. And that's a fair critique, although I would counter that the political realities of Albany demand that you take opportunities like this when you can get them, even if you'd prefer to see more on the table.
Gov. Paterson deserves kudos for advancing the important issue of regulatory reform in New York, and it follows on the heels of his strong push over the last year to advance public-private infrastructure partnerships, laying the groundwork for theÂ cash-strappedÂ state to tap private investors to help finance and build public infrastructure. These efforts are covered in detail in Reason Foundation's new Annual Privatization Report 2009.