Unshackle Upstate Releases 2014 Legislative Scorecards

Posted: Aug 19th, 2014

Unshackle Upstate, a pro-taxpayer, pro-business advocacy organization, today released its 2013-2014 legislative scorecards. The scorecards grade legislators based on their legislative and budget votes as well as sponsorships of targeted bills during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions.
“Recent polling has shown that taxes and job creation are key issues for people across the state. Our 2013-2014 legislative scorecards accurately reflect which legislators have advanced measures that help taxpayers and job creators,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “As we head into the election season, we encourage voters – especially in Upstate communities – to look at how their legislators performed over the past two years before they cast their vote.”
The scorecard grades are comprised of points accumulated or lost based on legislators’ sponsorships and floor votes on bills that Unshackle Upstate either supported or opposed. A complete list of bills is available here. Votes and sponsorships were divided into four categories and graded with a maximum score of 100:
- Legislative Votes (0 to 60 points of total score) - includes floor votes

- Budget Votes (0 to 25 points of total score) - includes votes on the budget

- Sponsorship of Bills Supported by Unshackle Upstate (0 to 15 points of total score) - includes sponsorship of pro-taxpayer/pro-business legislation

- Sponsorship of Bills Opposed by Unshackle Upstate (0 to -15 points of total score) - includes sponsorship of anti-taxpayer/anti-business legislation

Several Upstate business leaders touted Unshackle Upstate’s 2014 legislative scorecards as a valuable resource for taxpayers and businesses.

“The Unshackle Upstate Legislative Scorecards are an excellent tool, with specific statewide criteria, that hold legislators accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of their constituents,” said Sandy Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance and a co-founder of Unshackle Upstate. “Unshackle acts as a watchdog to ensure that lawmakers recognize and support issues that make a positive impact on New York’s economy. Rochester Business Alliance was pleased this year to see another on-time budget with items like business tax relief, estate tax reform, and the accelerated phase-out of the 18-a energy surcharge. These items bring the potential of job growth, however there is more work to do. Unshackle Upstate remains on watch.”
“Unshackle Upstate’s legislative scorecard presents a well-defined representation of which Senators and Assembly members are pro-business and helping to stimulate economic growth and job creation in Upstate New York,” said Lou Santoni, president and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.  “While New York State has made considerable improvement, the Unshackle Upstate scorecards are a strong representation on how we work with our elected officials to continue this development.”
“These scorecards tell us something important,” states Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “They tell us who is performing strongly on behalf of upstate jobs and taxpayers and who isn’t. We’re once again pleased that our area legislators have continued to score highly, with Assemblywoman Janet Duprey one of the very top performers in the Assembly at 95 percent. These scores are another useful reference for those who want to see further reform in Albany in support of job creation and economic growth.”
Additional business leaders highlighted the enactment of pro-taxpayer/pro-business measures and called for action on outstanding items that will improve the state’s business climate.
“Unshackle Upstate’s Legislative scorecard demonstrates that Upstate’s voice is being heard in Albany,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, one of the co-founders of Unshackle Upstate. “We are thrilled important pieces of legislation like the Brownfield Cleanup Program extension and the tax relief in this year’s budget passed in Albany, and they reflect the recognition that Upstate needs Albany’s attention and cooperation. We especially applaud Senator Patrick Gallivan and Assemblymember Jane Corwin, who both earned a 100 per cent score and have done a fine job representing Buffalo Niagara.”
“This legislative session produced some welcome reforms such as the elimination of the superfluous annual notification requirement of the Wage Theft Prevention Act,” said Jeff Albert, interim president of Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “However work remains to strengthen our economy, so we continue to call upon the Legislature to enact reasonable changes to the state’s draconian Scaffold Law, extend the state’s design-build program and promote fair and open completion on public work with the adoption of the Public Construction Savings Pilot Act.”
Following the release of the scorecards, Unshackle Upstate will begin its endorsement process. Candidates seeking an endorsement from the organization must have a minimum scorecard grade of 85 and complete a candidate questionnaire. The organization plans to announce its primary endorsements in early September and its general election endorsements toward the end of September.
“There’s no doubt that this year’s elections will have a significant impact on the state’s ability to continue its economic progress,” said Sampson. “In order to keep our economy moving in the right direction, it’s critical to gauge a candidate’s commitment to reducing taxes and improving the business climate. Any candidate that receives our endorsement will be held to a very high standard. Taxpayers and employers deserve nothing less.”
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View Senate rankings from Unshackle Upstate’s 2014 scorecards.
View Assembly rankings from Unshackle Upstate’s 2014 scorecards.