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MARCH 1998

Support for tax cuts grows; the Assembly backs ITC for securities firms, unveils economic development plan

The push for more tax cuts in 1998 - initiated by Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno in December - now has bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.

Budget proposals announced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would expand the investment tax credit to computer and telecommunications equipment used by the securities industry and accelerate the Power for Jobs program that provides low-cost electricity to employers. Each of those steps is among The Business Council's top tax priorities.

The Senate is also backing extension of the ITC to the securities industry, making that change a virtual certainty this year. The change would spur growth of back-office and other brokerage-related jobs in New York.

Meanwhile, the minority conferences in both houses have also asked for tax cuts. Senate Democratic Leader Martin Connor proposed a one-year tax reduction package including: rebates of $100 for individuals and $200 for married couples; expansion of the earned income tax credit; and a temporary repeal of the mortgage recording tax.

Assembly Minority Leader John Faso told The Council's Government Affairs Council that his conference supports Senator Bruno's wide-ranging plan to cut business taxes. Faso added that his conference wants to cut the utility gross receipts tax as well.

Business Council staff, chambers of commerce and companies across the state continue to lobby legislators on other tax priorities.

"Tax cuts are needed to help to keep my company in business and give us the opportunity to stay above water and to grow," Margery L. Keskin, President of J. Andrew Lange Inc. in Syracuse, wrote to Governor Pataki and Speaker Silver. She added: "Senator Bruno is 100 percent right on track with the idea that any state budget surplus should be returned to the taxpayers."

Chambers from Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester County, Rochester, Manhattan, the Buffalo-Niagara region and elsewhere have joined the effort to persuade lawmakers to cut business taxes.

Assembly Democrats have also introduced a new economic development plan that they say would create 25,000 new jobs by redirecting state resources to small businesses with the most job creation potential.

The plan would: create a tax credit for employer investments in training; aid a new effort to provide skilled workers to select industries; increase capital and low-interest loans to encourage small business growth; and streamline regulations.

The funds will be allocated to consortia and networks of business organizations, private industrial councils and job training service providers. The Council had recommended this approach.

March 19, 1998