Unshackle Upstate Releases 2012 Legislative Scorecards
In-depth taxpayer tool grades legislators on actions taken over past two legislative sessions.
ALBANY, NY – Unshackle Upstate, a pro-taxpayer, pro-jobs advocacy organization, today released its 2011-12 legislative scorecards. The scorecards, available at www.unshackleupstate.com/legislative-activity/scorecards/, grade legislators on their legislative and budget votes as well as sponsorships of targeted bills during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.
“As Primary and Election Day draw near, it’s very important for taxpayers to have a comprehensive guide that shows which legislators have truly dedicated themselves to unlocking New York’s economic potential,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “We’re encouraged to see that many legislators have responded to their constituents by supporting two consecutive fiscally responsible state budgets and several pro-taxpayer initiatives such as the 2-percent property tax cap and pension reform. Accordingly, legislators’ grades have generally improved from our 2010 scorecards. But we still have so much more to do to strengthen New York’s economy.”
The scorecard grades consist of points accumulated or lost based on legislators’ sponsorships and floor votes on bills that Unshackle Upstate either supported or opposed. Votes and sponsorships were divided into four categories and graded with a maximum score of 100:
· Legislative Votes (0 to 60 points of total score) - includes floor votes
· Budget Votes (0 to 25 points of total score)- includes votes on the budget
· Sponsorship of Bills Supported by Unshackle Upstate (0 to 15 points of total score)- includes sponsorship of positive legislation (5 points for each bill sponsored with a maximum of 3 bills)
· Sponsorship of Bills Opposed by Unshackle Upstate (0 to -15 points of total score)includes sponsorship of bad legislation (5 points deducted for each bill sponsored with a maximum of 3 bills)
The organization, which is comprised of business and trade organizations from every Upstate region, is encouraging its supporters to share these scorecards in an effort to educate and empower voters prior to Election Day.
“These scorecards provide a clear picture of which Senators and Assembly members are working to promote job growth and strengthen our economy,” said Sampson. “Our hope is that hard-working taxpayers and employers will see their legislators’ grades and start a discussion with their network of friends, family and colleagues.”
Business leaders from several Upstate regions also encouraged people in their communities to examine the findings of Unshackle Upstate’s 2012 legislative scorecards.
“After two successful legislative sessions, Unshackle Upstate’s legislative scorecard scores indicate that our legislators are paying attention and voting according to the needs of Upstate New York. For that, our legislators should be commended,” said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “The Partnership is especially proud of the Western New York delegation, with very strong scores across the Senate delegation and perfect scores from both sides of the aisle in the Assembly, no small feat given its downstate control! That being said, there is much that still needs to be done regarding employer regulatory reform and mandate relief, and we look forward to working with the Legislature on addressing those issues in the near future.”
“The results of the Unshackle Upstate scorecards demonstrate to me that our pro-business, pro-taxpayer message is being received by our state legislators,” said Sandy Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance and a co-founder of Unshackle Upstate. “These scorecards show a greater understanding of the issues facing businesses in New York State and a growing willingness to get on board with the changes that must be made in state government so we can revitalize our economy. I would ask voters to give these scorecards serious consideration before heading to the polls, so that together we elect legislators who deserve our vote because they are willing to go to bat as our representatives.”
“2012 has been another solid year of progress for reform in New York,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “Items such as another on-time budget that once again closed the gap without any new taxes or gimmicks, as well as enactment of the new Tier VI pension reforms and other measures will bring greater sustainability to our state’s finances for years to come. This progress is reflected in this year’s scores, and the improved performance overall hopefully tells us that there is a real consensus now around the things that need to be done, setting us up for another round of meaningful reform in 2013, including real mandate relief.”
“The results of these scorecards are encouraging as it shows this legislature has been receptive to our call for long-term economic growth,” said Stephen Lefebvre, president of the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. “Through the efforts of Unshackle Upstate, we can say with confidence that New York is on the path to being an economic leader again, but we still have a long way to go before we see a robust recovery, and many legislative and regulatory reforms governing the construction sector still need to take place. The Associated Builders and Contractors look forward to its continued partnership with Unshackle Upstate and working with those legislators who share our common vision for a better New York.”
“The Unshackle Upstate Scorecard serves as an important benchmark for the progress made in Albany over the last two years,” said Lou Santoni, president and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. “Increasing scores signal that our legislators are starting to understand the challenges confronting businesses and taxpayers. We are pleased that progress has been made, but we will continue to work with our elected officials to move New York further towards prosperity.”
“MACNY has long maintained that the way Albany treats the State’s manufacturing community will impact the State’s ability to economically prosper. Therefore, the way legislators vote on key business legislative matters are of significant importance to the State’s manufacturing community, ” said Randy Wolken, president of MACNY - The Manufacturers Association and The Manufacturers Alliance of New York. “The UU scorecard indicates that many of our Central and Upstate regional representatives are supporting the business friendly legislation we need to grow, and opposing bills that would hinder our ability to thrive. I applaud those legislative representatives that continue to fight for our State's manufacturing needs, and look forward to working with Albany to enact legislation that will foster a strong business climate and lead our State into a future of economic vitality.”
Over the course of the fall election season, Unshackle Upstate will also use candidate questionnaires and face-to-face interviews to determine its legislative endorsements.
“While we’ve made great strides over the past two years, we must continue to keep the pressure on Albany to do more for New York’s taxpayers and employers,” said Sampson. “As we meet legislative incumbents and challengers, we’ll gauge their support for our key goals and assess which candidates deserve our support.”
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Unshackle Upstate is a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York. The coalition's website, www.unshackleupstate.com, allows citizens to join the Unshackle Army and send messages to elected officials in Albany. Connect with Unshackle Upstate on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unshacklenyand Facebook: www.facebook.com/unshackleupstate.