North Country Assemblyman Butler proposes reforms to economic development approach at budget conference
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 6:02 am

North Country Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, was appointed to speak at the Budget Conference Committee on Economic Development, which is part of the budget negotiations process.

He proposed reforms to the way economic development is approached in the state, including measures for more oversight, transparency and equity in the distribution of funds.

“When using public dollars to invest in economic development, the state must take every measure to prevent the abuse of these funds. That can be achieved by requiring more oversight, transparency and equity in the distribution of these funds,” said Butler, who also sits on the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry.

Butler’s 118th Assembly District includes St. Lawrence County towns from Norfolk and Madrid south to Colton, Clifton and Fine.

Butler pointed to several pieces of legislation that could easily be incorporated to improve state policies toward both economic development investment and the improvement of the state’s business climate, which is ranked 45th by MSNBC.

Legislation such as A.5657, a bill Butler sponsors, would create an oversight committee to review economic development programs and various lump sum appropriations. Instead, the governor proposed $430 million in economic development funds over which he has complete control. Last year, a total of $2.6 billion of governor-controlled funds was identified in numerous areas of the 2016-17 Enacted Budget.

“We must work together to provide small businesses and job creators some regulation and tax relief. We must make this state more business friendly, so when we do invest in economic development, we can see results.”

Additionally, Butler urged the inclusion of the Small Business Full Employment Act, A.5423, and the DRREG Bill, A.5720, into the state budget.

These bills would address the many barriers faced by job creators, such as excessive taxes and fees and the many over-burdensome regulations that hinder growth.

Butler points to lack of any significant efforts made to help small businesses in the proposals put forth. “More must be done, especially in light of the minimum wage burden placed on job creators in last year’s state budget,” he said.