2020 Advocacy Issues

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and other business community allies have been taking the fight for a pro-growth, pro-business agenda to Albany. The Chamber participated in the Unshackle Lobby day and the NFIB Small Business Lobby day that included meetings with the Senate Majority Leader, Assembly Minority Leader and the Governor’s staff on a range of issues deeply important to the economic wellbeing of Broome County and Upstate NY. At these meetings we discussed issues such as Expansion of Prevailing Wage Mandates, Small Business Tax Cuts, Employer Mandates, and Opposition to expanded HCRA taxes.

 

One of the most important issues facing the business community this session is the expansion of prevailing wage. The Executive Budget proposal would require prevailing wage be paid on construction projects of $5 million or more that are paid for with at least 30 percent public funds.  These qualifiers are paired with several carveouts and exemptions intended to protect certain development projects from the impact of these mandates. A public subsidy board would be empowered to examine and make any necessary adjustments to thresholds included in the bill, as well as determinations related to applicability of this section to projects undertaken with benefits stemming from certain programs. From our understanding of the Governor’s bill language PILOTS would contribute to the public funds which would cause many projects to meet the threshold. This proposal would cause nearly all private development in our area to come to a screeching halt.

 

A second key priority this session is the small business tax cuts. New York’s high taxes have hindered the state’s economic growth and contributed to population loss, particularly in communities throughout Upstate. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, New York currently has the 2nd worst business tax climate in the nation. The Executive Budget proposal included language to reduce the tax rate for qualified small businesses. Specifically, it would reduce the corporate franchise tax rate on business income from 6.5% to 4% for qualifying small businesses. We are also asking that legislators support S.5954 (Kaplan) / A.6309 (Schimminger) which would increase the number of qualifying small businesses for these tax cuts.

 

Business community allies are also concerned about new paid sick leave requirements. The Executive Budget proposal would require all employers to provide sick leave to their employees each calendar year.

  • employers with 0-4 employees to provide five unpaid sick days each calendar year
  • employers with 5-99 employees to provide five paid sick days each calendar year
  • employers with 100 or more employees to provide seven paid sick days each calendar year

 

Employers should have the opportunity to provide these benefits to their employees without a state mandate to do so. New paid time off programs like the state’s expansive paid family leave program and paid time off for voting have added costs and scheduling challenges for employers, particularly the state’s small businesses.

 

Policymakers entered the 2020 legislative session facing a $6 billion budget deficit. Much of this financial stress is driven by ballooning costs in the state’s Medicaid program which is facing an estimated $4 billion shortfall. One of the chief drivers of health care costs is the number of taxes, surcharges and assessments the state imposes on employers and individuals with private insurance. In 2019, the “covered lives” assessment, the premium tax on commercial health insurance, the New York State Department of Financial Services section 206 assessments and the HCRA surcharge combine to cost consumers $5.2 billion. Taxes on private health insurance are the state’s third-highest tax collection after income tax and sales tax. For the average family, this tax adds over $1,000 to their insurance costs. The business community opposes adding additional costs to overburdened families and businesses to pay for the state’s Medicaid budget deficit. The MRT should focus on savings and efficiencies and reject any effort to raise New York’s already onerous tax burden.

 

If you have any questions about how a policy coming out of Albany could affect your business, please reach out to Kyle Davis, the Government Relations and Public Policy Specialist at the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.

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