May 18, 2007 - Government Affairs Council Update
- "Upstate Now" Proposal
- Paid Family Medical Leave Bills Introduced
- Shareholder Participation Bill Advancing
- Analysis Finds New York's Per-Capita Tax Burden Highest in the Nation
This week, Majority Leader Joseph Bruno released the Senate's "Upstate Now" revitalization plan, which included an array of upstate specific and state wide tax credits, incentives and program reforms.
The program proposes nearly $950 million in tax reductions for the current tax year, rising to $2.5 billion per year once fully implemented. The package also includes nearly $1 billion in new and modified economic development funds.
The proposal addresses a number of Business Council priority issues, including health care, taxes, energy and innovation. Business Council President Kenneth Adams said, "Senator Bruno and his colleagues in the Senate majority have crafted a broad package of proposals that would benefit the Upstate economy and all of New York State. It's particularly encouraging to see the Senate emphasize the need to help Upstate with proposals that address both the core business-climate issues as well as the need for investment in technology and innovation."
Key provisions of this plan include:
- Business tax reform, including elimination of the corporate franchise tax on manufacturers, lowering the Article 9-A rate from 7.1 to 6.85 percent, providing a STAR property tax relief program and a electric energy tax credit for small business, and others.
- Increased business and infrastructure investments, including capital support for economic development and te water and sewer lines; support for state-wide broadband access; and creation of new economic development zones around regional airports.
- New support for innovation and technology through refundable tax credits; increased tax credits for qualified emerging technology companies; $100 million in regional partnerships; new commercialization assistance grants; and incentives for bioscience and nanoscience commercialization.
- extension of existing low-cost power programs, including Power for Jobs; new clean alternative energy incentives including solar and fuel cell manufacturer tax credits, and cellulosic ethanol production tax credits.
- Reduce health care costs on small business by allowing businesses to purchase Health New York at the unsubsidized cost; expand eligibility for Healthy-NY coverage; provide small business with tax credits for health insurance cost; and exempt Health Savings Accounts from state health insurance mandates.
This week Senator Morahan introduced two bills that would require state disability benefits to be paid to non-disabled employees in a variety of circumstances.
S.5820, the "families in the workplace act," is a bill that we have seen in prior sessions. It would require paid leave using state disability benefits and a firm's own sick pay when an employee is absent while on a federal family medical leave, for attendance at educational meetings with children's teachers, in cases of bereavement for family and household members and for family medical care not covered under the federal family medical leave act. It would include both private and public employers. It does not increase the current $170 per week maximum weekly benefit.
This bill would also end the seven day disability benefits payment waiting period which has been on the books for decades and require disability benefit payments to begin on the first day of disability.
The second bill, S.5821, is the Governor's family care bill. It expands the definition of disability to include child bonding and caring for a seriously ill family member. It requires statutory disability benefit payments to be made under these two new circumstances for a maximum of 12 weeks. It does not require that time off be granted or that a job be guaranteed. It does not increase the current $170 per week maximum weekly benefit. It also raises the weekly employee contribution from the current sixty cents to one dollar and five cents.
The Senate is considering legislation that has already passed the Assembly that would impose significant new obligations on New York State incorporated companies. This proposal, which has been reported from the Corporations Committee, and is on the Senate calendar, S.2152 (Libous) / A.1350 (Brodsky) amends the Business Corporation Law to require, that corporations with more than one hundred shareholders to:
- implement "reasonable measures" to allow remote participation and voting by shareholders, including an opportunity to read or hear the proceedings of the meeting "substantially concurrently with such proceedings.
- implement mechanisms to verify that remote participants are shareholders.
If you are a New York incorporated company, we urge you to have this proposal reviewed immediately reviewed by your general counsel.
We have communicated our concerns with the Senate sponsor, and we expect the bill to be held in the Senate pending addition additional input on the impact this would have on their current procedures for shareholder voting at shareholder meetings.
New York State's per capita state and local tax burden in 2005 was the highest in the nation, according to a new analysis by the Public Policy Institute.
The Institute analyzed state and local finance data provided by the Census Bureau. The numbers, which covered the 2004-2005 fiscal year, showed that New York's per-capita state and local tax burden was the highest in the nation at $5,770 – 56 percent above the national average of $3,699 and 7 percent above the next highest per capita burden in Connecticut.