By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
For more than a decade now, the stateâ€™s Power for Jobs program and other similar programs have helped to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide by providing low-cost power to businesses and not-for-profit employers.
However, these programs have long been in need of improvements that would build on this success to not only protect these jobs, but give employers incentives to add employees and grow our economy. With the expiration of these programs looming, my colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the political aisle overwhelmingly supported legislation I introduced to make the changes employers say are needed to maximize the job creation potential for these programs.
The Economic Benefit Power Program legislation streamlines these multiple programs into a single program and doubles the power available to a total of 910 megawatts. This legislation makes the program permanent and provides businesses the long term certainty they need to make investments and grow through seven year contracts, while also promoting energy efficiency.
This legislation was not created in some backroom in Albany. This legislation was developed after many public roundtables and hearings coordinated through my office and the Assembly Energy Committee Chairâ€”including events in Oswego, Massena and throughout the stateâ€”where stakeholders were given the opportunity to offer suggestions to make these successful programs even better. The value of these forums is clear in the overwhelming similarity of bills proposed separately in the Assembly, the Senate, and by the Governor.
This process put people before politics, as it should. Each one of the jobs supported by these programs is the one that is most important to the person holding that job, be it at Birdseye Foods in Fulton, Great Lakes Cheese in Adams, Crowley Foods in LaFargeville, Corning in Canton, or any one of hundreds of employers statewide, including dozens in Central and Northern New York. Now, with the program set to expire May 15, I am working with the Assembly and the Governor to ensure any remaining differences are reconciled in time.
While weâ€™ve made real progress to renew these job programs in time, I certainly share the frustration of many New Yorkers watching as we are now more than five weeks past our stateâ€™s budget deadline and no deals have been reached. Work continues, but as Iâ€™ve said before, I believe we need to have open joint budget meetings and this sentiment is shared by the vast majority of Senators, but without the Assembly or the Governor, this process has remained grounded.
The Senate has proposed real and substantial cuts, without resorting to higher taxes or borrowing, as has been proposed by the Governor and the Assembly. For our region, I continue working to secure an increased share of school aid, which is one important reason I supported increasing the cap on the number of privately run charter schools allowed in New York. This legislation would make us eligible for up to $700 million in federal aid, more than 90 percent of which would go to public schools, reducing by almost half the proposed cuts to education.
Moving forward, I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to explore every option that will allow us to pass a balanced budget as soon as possible, without accepting taxes and fees that target the middle class and by making careful cuts that get at waste in government without closing Ogdensburg Correctional Facility or our parks. We need a budget as soon as possible, but most importantly, we need a budget that protects the interest of Central and Northern New York.