ICYMI – State needs to boost its anemic workforce
BY: ED COX
December 31, 2012
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deliver his third State of the State address next week, and New Yorkers need to hear that our state is still losing jobs and people, fast.
New York is the only state that saw a significant increase in unemployment over the last year. Our current rate of 8.7 percent is a full point above the national rate of 7.7 percent.
Our anemic population growth of only 2.1 percent last decade, compared with the national average of 9.7 percent, cost us two congressional seats.
Our state’s counterproductive tax code and ineffectual workforce development scheme are to blame. Both must be addressed this legislative session if New York is to remain economically competitive.
New York is consistently ranked as the least economically free state, a byproduct of our worst-in-the-nation tax regime, and Cuomo has acknowledged that New York “has no future as the tax capital of the nation.”
Tax reform must begin with changing the way we treat capital gains. Most states, as well as the federal government, tax capital gains at a low rate to incentivize investment.
Not New York. We are one of a minority of states that treat capital gains as ordinary income. Money earned on investments is subject to a punishing tax regime intended for high incomes, one that eliminates deductions and applies the highest rate to the entire income, not just marginal income.
The world’s financial capital is chasing away some of our most productive citizens who are eager to invest, build and leave an economic legacy. A phased reduction of the tax rate on capital gains will let entrepreneurs know that New York is once again open for business.
While tax reform will entice businesses back to New York, an overhaul of New York’s workforce development scheme will close the skills gap between the number of emerging jobs with high-skill requirements and the comparably small number of workers with those skills.
New York’s workforce development program, thus far untouched by Cuomo, is a jumbled mess: 28 different funding schemes are accountable to 11 different agencies and plagued by a pervasive lack of coordination and collaboration.
There is a more cost-effective solution: community colleges provide a better training environment and more meaningful career counseling thanks to their relationships with local industries that can communicate their specific needs for new workers.
New York’s job training funds should go directly to community colleges for the purpose of consolidating and streamlining our ability to train new workers.
This model has worked for other states. North Dakota’s TrainND program works with the private sector to fund community colleges for the purpose of providing worker training to meet employer-defined needs.
Williston State College has used the program to grow the number of workers it trains from 3,000 to over 10,000 annually. Graduates of the program have a 98 percent job placement rate.
We’re already having some success with this model in New York.
Hudson Valley Community College‘s TEC-SMART facility is a joint initiative between the college and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The facility provides training classrooms in semiconductor manufacturing technology, as well as labs and classrooms for training in renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal power.
The program graduates workers with skill sets tailor-made for jobs in local industry.
We can build on this success. If Cuomo champions workforce development along with tax reform this year, he can transform New York’s jobs training programs from a costly drag on our finances to an investment that paves the way for the economic growth we need to regain our competitive edge.
Ed Cox is chairman of the New York Republican State Committee.
*Correction: The current NYS Unemployment rate is 8.3%