Government Affairs Albany Update
March 27, 2009

Business Council blasts budget

Despite our efforts to push for spending cuts instead of new taxes, the legislature is finishing work on a FY 2010 budget that seems likely to include increased spending and the state's largest ever tax increases. Kenneth Adams issued this statement today, saying,

“This is a reckless and dangerous approach that defies fiscal logic. To burden all New Yorkers with billions of dollars in new taxes will make the current economic crisis worse and set back chances for New York's recovery. . . We urge the Governor and leaders to make the right choices and reduce spending rather than raise billions of dollars in new taxes in the middle of this terrible recession.”

Council Continues Budget E-Advocacy

We appreciate the broad participation by Business Council members in our e-advocacy efforts on key budget issues, including the Executive Budget business tax package (including health care, insurance, energy, telecomm, cable and other tax proposals), proposed retroactive restrictions on Empire Zone employers, and the MTA “payroll tax.”  To date, more than 1,400 individuals produced more than 10,000 separate messages to state legislators, legislative leaders and Governor Paterson.

New Premium Tax Proposed

This week saw the introduction of a new proposal to impose a premium tax on HMOs. Estimated to generate $107 million for the state, the proposed HMO premium tax is distinct from the Executive Budget proposal to increase in the premium tax on commercial health, life and property/casualty insurers that would raise $62 million.  The HMO premium tax would disproportionately hurt small businesses as well as individuals in the direct pay market – two segments of the market for which this product is very popular. The Council's memo in opposition is available here. 

IDA “Reform” Proposals

The Administration and legislature are asking for input on proposed legislation (see S.1241/A.3659) to impose wage mandates for both construction activity and business tenants at projects supported with industrial development agency (IDA) financing and/or tax incentives.

This legislation would also require new job commitments from businesses receiving IDA assistance, and impose benefit “claw-backs” on companies that fail to achieve growth projections. It would also extend IDA authority to finance “civic facilities,” and impose additional reporting and disclosure requirements on IDAs.

The Business Council has opposed this legislation in prior sessions. We urge members interested in this issue to review this legislation at your earliest convenience and provide us with input on how this legislation would affect current or future projects under consideration in the state.

Trial Lawyers Pushing To Repeal Contingency Fee Cap

The state trial bar is pushing the Governor and legislative leaders to roll back a 23-year-old ceiling on legal fees gleaned from medical malpractice awards. We believe that undoing reasonable caps on legal fees from medical-malpractice awards would be a bonanza for trial lawyers at the expense of New York's employers and workers, contributing to higher malpractice and health care premiums.  The Business Council and allied organizations are working to defeat this proposal.