Expert Opinion: Infrastructure priorities in the upcoming legislative session
The Building Trades Employers Association represents 2,000 union contractors who build the physical and human infrastructure on New York City. This year will be an important year in the state Legislature if New York City is to continue to prosper.
The major legislative issues in the upcoming session include:
1. Full funding of the MTA capital plan. We must continue to invest in both keeping our transportation system in a state of good repair and expand the system’s capacity with new projects. Ever ride the 6 train at rush hour? You can’t. Now that the Hudson Yards developments are in full progress, the No. 7 line needs to be expanded. Investments in transportation systems are the foundation of strong economic development. Would there be a Hudson Yards without the investment to build a new No. 7 line? No. Full funding of the MTA capital plan isn’t a luxury – it is a necessity.?
2. 240 Scaffold Law reform. How much longer will the state Legislature allow the trial attorneys to become rich at the expense of the taxpayer? Everyone supports requirements to ensure contractors provide a safe construction work site for all its workers. This law requires the expenditure of much-needed public dollars for lawyers rather than where it should be spent, which is on more public infrastructure.
3. Design/build procurement for New York City and New York state. This method of procurement on large and complex projects has a track record of reducing public construction costs and finishing projects on time. Both New York City and New York state should have the ability to utilize this procurement method for projects it determines is warranted.
4. Reform of the state minority and women-owned business program. Confucius once said, “When goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals – adjust the action steps.” The state MWBE program needs reforms and an investment of financial support in order to do the kinds of programs that will reduce fraud and provide meaningful mentoring programs, access to financing and bonding and other such services that will provide MWBE companies the real tools they need to grow. As Bertha Lewis, president of The Black Institute, recently said, “Are we looking to make noise or build lasting change?”
Louis J. Coletti is president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association.