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2013 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda

The following presents our advocacy agenda for 2013. It reflects both the diversity of The Business Council’s statewide membership, as well as the broad public policy agenda confronting the state’s business community. Importantly, it includes proactive initiatives intended to improve the state’s business climate and promote new private sector investment and job creation, in addition to identifying damaging proposals that we will work against.

We look forward to working with the Administration, Senate, Assembly and – most important – our members in adopting pro-investment, pro-growth legislation in the 2013 session.

Construction

The last decade was very difficult for construction industry employment in New York State. Losses throughout the decade peaked with the economic collapse in 2008, and construction investment and employment is experiencing a modest recovery. New York State lags far behind most states in its procurement practices for public works construction and a litany of mandates and restrictions result in excessive costs. While progress was made in the limited authorization of design-build in the 2012-13 state budget, legislation is still needed to:

Contract Procurement

The process of selling goods and services to state government is increasingly cumbersome, with more businesses, including M/WBEs, bypassing this significant business opportunity. New York needs to make the procurement process more efficient, while assuring fair and reasonable bids. New York should:

Corporate Governance

It is critical that the state promote public confidence in corporate governance while avoiding mandates that make New York uncompetitive with other states. New York should:

Economic Development

As New York works to improves it overall business climate, we support measures that open new investment opportunities and effective, targeted economic incentive programs to support investment in strategic industries. We need to:

Education/Workforce Development

The Business Council supports alternative educational models to better prepare students for entrance into college and/or career. New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch noted, in a recent op-ed, that the Board was considering such STEM and Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways.

We also need to address the “skills crisis.” There are currently three million unfilled jobs in the U.S.; however, many employers, Business Council members included, are unable to find the skilled workforce they need. Major changes on the state and national level must be implemented to better prepare students for postsecondary education or a career.

The Business Council supports the following education and workforce development initiatives/items:

New York also needs to establish a cohesive vision for job creation resources available across state agencies to assure that investments are aligned with state and regional development goals, and the particular needs of employers. New York needs to:

Energy

Reducing energy costs and promoting adequate and diverse energy supplies will help support economic growth. New York should:

Environment

New York has a stringent environmental regulatory program that imposes costs and operational restrictions on business and impedes capital investment and job growth. The state needs to:

Financial Services

The financial services industry is it’s the largest contributor to New York’s gross state product and total payroll, and includes traditional banking firms, investment banks and security firms, mutual funds, stock and commodity exchanges, insurance companies and trust and other financial instrument and asset managers. To promote continued growth and economic activity in this sector, we support:

The Business Council opposes:

Fiscal Reform

The state fiscal plan issued in April 2012 projected an initial budget gap of $950 million for Fiscal Year 2014, and a combined $8.5 billion gap for fiscal years 2014 through 2016. Since then, the FY 2014 projected deficit has grown due to ongoing economic sluggishness, and now is expected to at least double due to $2 billion due to the physical and economic damage caused Hurricane Sandy.

The Business Council firmly believes that the best solution to the state’s fiscal challenges is continuing its recent controls on state spending, and the adoption of reforms that promote renewed economic growth and the tax revenues it will produce. New York needs to build on its fiscal reform progress to date by:

Health and Health Insurance

With health care costs rising by double digits this year in many of New York’s markets, the cost of health care remains the number one concern among all Business Council members. The additional complications related to development of New York’s health exchange makes it a particularly important time to continue opposing any legislation that would add additional costs to the state’s health care system or employer provided coverage. Our health policy agenda includes the following priorities:

Labor

An important aspect of economic recovery is a stable employment regulatory environment and the ability of employers to design pay and benefit programs that fit their industry, size, location, profitability and competitive environment, especially across state and national boundaries.. To achieve this objective, New York should:

Mandate Relief

Local Government Mandate Relief – Reducing the cost of state-imposed mandates long been seen as the quid pro quo of a real property tax cap, and would give local governments increased ability to control the spending side of their budgets. A joint administration/legislative mandate relief commission was formed in early 2011 and issued a “final” report later that year. However, only a limited number of mandate reforms have been adopted to date, in the areas of contract procurement, road and bridge maintenance costs, education and social service programs, and others. Significant reform measures include amendments to the state’s civil service law, public construction mandates and other areas hotly contested by organized labor. The Business Council is a member of the “Let NY Work” coalition, and supports its local government mandate relief package, which aims to:

Taxation

The Business Council supports legislation that will provide broad-based tax reform, as well as enhanced credits focused on key business sectors. Our major tax reform proposals include the following:

Technology/Telecommunications

The emerging technology and telecommunications sectors will provide a new economic infrastructure for the 21st century. It is essential that New York adopt policies to promote continued reinvestment in its tech sector that will help make New York’s economy more competitive.

Tort Reform

New York’s legal environment consistently ranks as one of the worst in the nation. The state needs meaningful legal reform that respects the rights of all parties and helps reduce the state’s hidden “lawsuit tax.” We should:

Transportation

Roads, bridges, ports, airports, railroads and public facilities require significant investments from the state and federal government for continued maintenance, reconstruction and modernization to ensure the efficient flow of goods, services and people. The enormous task of rebuilding New York’s aging infrastructure is complicated by a sluggish economy, burdensome state laws and regulations, already high levels of state and local spending and debt. Rebuilding New York’s aging infrastructure requires alternatives to the standard approach of financing, constructing and operating our transportation system. The state should look to more private transportation infrastructure investment and arrangements. New York needs to:

Travel and Tourism

New York has a broad tourism industry, including culture, history, restaurants, entertainment, destinations, parks and others. In FY 2013, a substantial investment was made to put I Love NY back in the media market. This was a significant first step but there is more we can do to help this statewide industry:

Unemployment Insurance

As the economic recovery continues to lag, the insolvency of New York’s unemployment insurance trust fund continues to impose significant additional costs on New York’s employers. The state needs to address the solvency of the UI trust fund, and to adopt a more sustainable UI system in New York. In doing so, New York should:

Workers’ Compensation

As illustrated in our recent Public Policy Institute report, the state’s workers compensation system is arguably more expensive now than before the 2007 reform legislation, due to a near doubling of maximum weekly benefits (and their indexing to increases in statewide wages), and due to slow and ineffective implementation of reforms intended to improve the program and reduce costs. Based on these findings, the Council will be pushing a new round of workers’ comp reform measures, to assure that intended cost savings are achieved, and to offset the costs of already provided benefit increases.