The business community is facing its worst session yet.
Albany is moving a litany of legislation with little or no debate, and it is a dangerous approach to economic recovery. The impact this will have on our small business community has not gone unnoticed.
We had the opportunity to discuss small business issues with Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Assemblyman Joe Angelino and a representative from Senator Fred Akshar’s office at a recent advocacy event. One of the most salient points of the discussion – if small business concerns don’t rise to the top of the agenda – there won’t be many left.
I appreciated the candor of our state officials and small business members, who echoed frustration with the lack of thoughtful debate and dialogue on many of the most pressing post-pandemic issues. One of our attendees, who runs a seasonal business, stated that he feels like he receives a gut-punch every time something moves in the Legislature.
Small businesses drive local economies, create vibrant neighborhoods and provide the majority of jobs in our community. The barrage of legislation that is being moved will threaten the health and economic vitality of all of New York. Here are a few examples.
The recently passed Occupational Exposure to Airborne Infectious Disease (NY HERO) act was just signed into law. This bill mandates several onerous protocols for businesses, with little consideration of employer size or status of a state of emergency regarding protections from airborne diseases. Since the onset of the pandemic, small businesses have taken incredible measures to keep their employees and customers safe. This will add costs, increase litigation, and make permanent an unnecessary mandate. Albany does not need to mandate what businesses are already doing.
The Climate and Community Investment Act, the Employer Producer Responsibility Bill, and the NY Health Act are on the horizon are of significant concern.
The CCIA would increase prices at the pump by approximately fifty-five cents per gallon and increase natural gas prices by twenty-six percent. Research has shown that taxes such as these negatively impact low-to-moderate income individuals and families more significantly.
The EPR bill would shift the end-of-life management for recyclable goods from the municipality onto the producers of these goods. Like tariffs at implemented at the federal level, the results of these cost-shifts are passed down to the customer through increasing costs of goods. It is estimated that the price of a “basket of goods” would increase by 4.01% to 6.35%. This means an additional $36 to $57 per month in grocery costs for the average family of four in New York State. This would equate to a total of $684 a year. In addition, there has been no public dialogue on this item.
The NYS Health Act would eliminate private insurance and replace it with a government run single payer system. Currently, approximately ninety-five percent of New Yorkers are covered by some form of health insurance. Taxes on health care make it inaccessible not the availability. The state already has a model in place to expand coverage through the health care exchange system. The state should seek to expand service through this platform and by lowering taxes that price individuals out of the market. This would address both accessibility and choice for individuals and families.
We are so thankful for our small businesses who voiced their concerns and grateful for our state delegation that understands what our community needs to thrive. We recognize the continued challenges with meeting in person to debate these items. However, pushing through a one-sided agenda via Zoom is the wrong direction for New York.
Stacey Duncan is the president & CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.