Government Affairs Albany Update
May 8, 2009

MTA Financing Package/Payroll Tax

The legislature has passed, and the Governor has signed, legislation to provide up to $2 billion in new revenues per year to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

This legislation imposes a new “mobility tax” on employers within the twelve county metropolitan commuter transportation district (MCTA). This is payroll tax on most private and public employees, and self-employed individuals, located within the MTCD. Key provision include:

This tax is intended to raise $1.5 billion on an annualized basis. School districts subject to this payroll tax will be reimbursed the cost by the state.

In addition, the bill imposes several other surcharges within the MCTA, including those on learners permits, drivers licenses and vehicle registrations; and on taxi rides and car rentals.

The bill text is available on our web site.  In addition, the Department of Taxation and Finance will also be posting compliance information on their site.

Business Council Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

Unemployment Insurance Update

Several bills are under active consideration in Albany to increase unemployment insurance benefits; increase the taxable wage base to pay for increased benefits; expand for benefits; and permanently index the UI to the state's average weekly wage. While The Business Council has been in discussions with the Legislature on how best to accomplish a benefit increase, the federal stimulus bill added new elements to the discussion by making available to states a one-time distribution of funds, if state laws broaden eligibility for coverage to include specific categories of “voluntary quit with good cause.”

A summary of these bills follows:

Economic Development Funding

The Governor has announced that applications are now being sought for funding under the $120 million “Upstate Regional Blueprint” fund and the $35 million “Downstate Revitalization” fund – both authorized under last year's budget.

On-line applications will be available on the ESDC web site on May 11. Applications are due June 15, 2009, and awards will be announced August 17.

The upstate fund will provide loans and grants for business attraction and expansion projects, and funding of land acquisition and site preparation. Eligible applicants include business, municipalities, local development corporations and others.

The downstate fund is for investments in distressed communities, business and technology development, and public/private cooperative efforts that promote new investments in the state. Funding categories and eligible applicants are similar to that for the Upstate Blueprint Fund, discussed above.

Business Council staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

“Modernizing the State's Procurement Laws”

The New York City Bar Association's Construction Law Committee has released a report titled "Modernizing the State's Procurement Laws". The report is in response to an April 22 joint hearing held by the Assembly and Senate Labor Committees on how to define the lowest responsible bidder on public work contracts.  The report is available here.

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