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Unshackle Upstate Calls for State Government Reforms

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Unshackle Upstate Officials Gather at the Dunn Tire Warehouse in Cheektowaga

By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-818821.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The state's budget problems are front-and-center as the group Unshackle Upstate released its 2009 legislative agenda Tuesday.

Unshackle Upstate was formed a couple of years ago. The coalition claims to represent 45,000 companies that employ more than a million workers in upstate New York.

Unshackle Upstate pushed for workers compensation reform a couple of years ago and got it. Now the coalition is setting its sights on true reform of state government. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership's Andrew Rudnick says there is no better time than now for state leaders to act.

Unshackle Upstate is calling on state leaders to hold the line on education and health care spending in the coming year. And they want a property tax cap.

Rudnick admits he's not naive. He realizes there are any number of groups out there with goals that are at odds with their's. One of them is SEIU Local 1199, the powerful healthcare union. Just this week, the union released a TV ad against spending cuts to health care that featured a blind man in a wheelchair asking the Governor "why are you doing this to me?" WBFO News asked Unshackle Upstate's Executive Director Brian Sampson how his coalition can compete with that?

"You fight that with facts," Sampson said. "You don't fight it with emotion. When we talk about a property tax cap, what we're talking about is true structural reform."

Sampson said the spending cuts included in Governor Paterson's proposed budget for 2009-2010 are a good start but adds more needs to be done to alleviate the burden on companies doing business in New York.

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