Heastie wants to build on economic initiatives

By Bill Heltzel

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New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told Westchester business leaders that he wants to continue building on accomplishments from the last session that will make New York a good place to do business.

Heastie spoke to about 60 people at the Business Council of Westchester in Rye Brook on Sept. 21, in the organization’s political leadership series.

He conceded that some of the legislative accomplishments might not be popular with business leaders but nonetheless contribute to economic prosperity.

Boosting the minimum wage, for instance, puts money in the pockets of people who then buy things and stimulate the economy.

Paid family leave provides more stability for workers and businesses. Investments in higher education and job training give workers and businesses the tools to compete.

Heastie, 49, has represented a district in northeast Bronx since 2001. Last year, colleagues elected him to the Assembly’s top position following the arrest of the previous speaker, Sheldon Silver, on federal corruption charges.

Heastie then embarked on a statewide tour to listen and learn about local issues in districts he had never visited. The common concerns were education, infrastructure and onerous regulations.

Business leaders, particularly upstate, want to find ways to compete more effectively nationally and globally. New enterprises are frustrated with having to deal with a dozen different state agencies to get a business started.

He was asked about the seemingly opaque, last-minute way of passing a budget bill.

“I don’t understand what you can do at 3 in the morning or 4 in the morning that can’t be done at 11 in the morning,” commented John Ravitz, a former Assembly member who is executive vice president of the Business Council.

Heastie said the budget process is open at the beginning, when the governor proposes a budget and the Senate and Assembly pass resolutions on their positions, and there are seldom surprises during negotiations.

Then it takes time for everyone to get comfortable with compromises, and various factions hold out to the last minute for a better deal.

“I’d rather have a right budget,” he said, “than an on-time budget.”

In the next legislative session, he said, he wants to continue investing in education and do more about criminal justice reform.

“And we need to make sure this is a state where people want to come and do business.”

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About the author

Bill Heltzel
Bill Heltzel has covered criminal justice, courts, government and sports – as a beat reporter and investigative reporter – for daily newspapers in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He worked for Bloomberg LP in training and sales. He joined The Business Journal in 2016.

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