Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 7, 2008
- PIT Hike Opposed
- Minimum Wage Legislation Advances
- Environment Issues Addressed
- FYI – Family Leave Legislation Approved in NJ
- Washington Update
The Assembly Majority is recommending a five year increase in the personal income tax rate, from 6.85 percent to 7.7 percent, on taxpayers with incomes over $1 million. This is projected to raise $1.5 billion a year, and is proposed as an alternative to revenue measures included in the Governor's Executive Budget proposal.
Yesterday, TBC President Kenneth Adams issued a statement in opposition to this proposal (available here), joining Governor Spitzer and Majority Leader Bruno in opposing this measure. Adams stressed the need for further controls on state spending growth, rather than new taxes, as the only sustainable fix for the state's budget gaps. He noted that even with an additional $1.5 billion in annual revenues, based on current spending trends New York would still face an aggregate $15 billion budget gap over the next three years.
This PIT proposal is expected to be included in the Assembly's budget proposal due out by this Monday.
The State Assembly is moving legislation to further increase the state's minimum wage, and index future increases to the consumer price index. This week, the Assembly Ways & Means Committee sent legislation to the Assembly floor - A.9168 (Silver) - which would increase the minimum wage to $8.25 by 2011 and, thereafter, index the minimum wage to a CPI calculated adjustment. At this time, there is no Senate companion to this proposal. The state adopted a three step increase in the state minimum wage during the 2005 session, bring it to its current level of $715 per hour.
Members of The Business Council's Environment Committee had its first of four quarterly meetings with Department of Environmental Conservation executive staff on February 26 at the DEC building in downtown Albany. The purpose of these meetings is to foster dialogue between the business community and DEC on the key environmental issues and initiatives in New York.
Last month's meeting focused on several important issues including: brownfield's reform proposals, solid waste management programs, Executive Budget fee increases, air permits and regulation of air emissions and others.
In this session, Business Council members stressed our concerns about the Administration's proposals to limit eligibility for brownfield redevelopment credits, and to impose significantly increased permit fees on manufacturing and utility facilities. We also agreed to work together on the Department's efforts to update its solid waste management plan in order to improve recycling and other program attributes.
Family leave legislation received consideration attention in the New York State Legislature in 2007, and undoubtedly will be a major post budget issue this year. Similar legislation is moving toward final approval in our neighboring state. The New Jersey Senate passed a family leave bill earlier this week and the bill has been returned to the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee where final disposition is expected soon. The bill passed the NJ Assembly last year. The New Jersey legislation would provide employees up to 6 weeks of paid leave to care for a child or sick family member. A copy of the bill is available on-line at: www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/A1000/873_U1.HTM.
- Chemical Facility Rules Tightened Under House Bill The House Homeland Security Committee approved draft legislation that would extend and toughen existing regulations requiring increased security against possible terrorism at the thousands of facilities that produce, store or distribute potentially hazardous chemicals. The language will now be formally introduced and referred to other committees with the House Energy & Commerce Committee as the likely first stop. The measure is necessary to retain the Homeland Security Department's ability to enforce the current regulations it adopted last year with authority granted in the FY07 department appropriations. Those regulations, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, will expire October 31, 2009, unless the authority is extended. The most contentious aspect of the drafting was around a proposed amendment that would restore the current requirement that use of “inherently safer technologies” (IST) applies only to the Tier One, or most hazardous, chemical facilities.