Faso touts his efforts in DC to cut costs in NY

In a farewell conference call with reporters on Thursday, departing Rep. John Faso spoke proudly about trying to combat from Washington during his two years in Congress two New York practices that he believes contributes to the state’s high costs and resulting exodus of businesses and people.

One is the state’s longstanding Scaffold Law, which critics blame for driving up construction costs in New York by making property owners and contractors fully responsible for any injuries that workers suffer in falls. The other is New York’s requirement that counties help shoulder the state’s massive Medicaid expenses, which are then borne by property-tax payers.

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican who lost New York’s 19th Congressional Distict race to Democrat Antonio Delgado last month, had sponsored a bill that would have forced New York to assume its counties’ Medicaid costs, and got it attached last year to a House bill that would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans’ repeal effort ultimately failed, but Faso said Thursday that he was pleased he got his amendment into the bill and raised awareness of the issue.

Faso also had a bill that would have preempted the 133-year-old Scaffold Law by prohibiting federal funding for projects that use New York’s “absolute liability” standard for falls at construction sites, instead of one of the more flexible negligence standards that every other state uses. He argues the Scaffold Law inflates taxpayer costs for public projects like the new Tappan Zee Bridge by hiking the expense of liability insurance for contractors.

“I was the first member from New York to raise the issue,” Faso said during Thursday’s call, noting that that he had hoped to attach his proposal to a long-anticipated infrastructure bill that has yet to materialize.

Faso recently tried another approach by asking Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to prohibit the use of an absolute liability standard in contracts for projects receiving federal funds, such as the proposed Gateway rail tunnels under the Hudson.  “On my way out the door here, I’m trying to lay down a marker,” he told reporters.

Faso said he doesn’t know yet what he will do after leaving Congress, and he dismissed as fictitious a recent report that he may seek to replace Ed Cox as chairman of the state Republican Party.

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