Government Affairs Committee Update
January 6, 2017

Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky

Legislative Update

  1. Legislative Priorities: Several legislative leaders laid out a list of 2017 priorities during their opening day remarks, including proposals that would impact Business Council members. They included:
    • Assembly Democrat Majority: Adopt new income tax brackets on income over $1 million a year (and expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit ); support tax incentives to help small businesses; eliminating criminal justice-related barriers to employment including “banning the box” and sealing certain criminal records; support community colleges’ efforts to support workforce development; and support tuition elimination for SUNY.
    • Senate Independent Democrat Caucus: Increase the current real property tax credit for manufacturers, provide grants for small businesses expanding in New York, adopt “Buy American” provisions for state contracts, and start a “Made By New Yorkers” label for in-state produced products; provide tax incentives to employers that provide child care services; create an independent Utility Consumer Advocate;  impose “comprehensive regulation” of reverse mortgages; create the New York Secure Choice Retirement Program (a state-sponsored IRA program, applicable to employers of 25 or more that do not offer a retirement plan); ban non-compete agreements for low-wage workers; increase NYSERDA funding for microgrid projects; provide funds for small communities to do water system testing; expand the Tuition Assistance Program, create a new $50 million zero-interest college loan fund, and provide loan forgiveness for engineers and teachers in STEM Education; extend the statewide two percent property tax cap to cover New York City and cut NYC income taxes for income under $50,000 annually.
  2. Senate Water Quality Report: The Senate Republicans have issued a report, “Water Quality and Contamination,” as a follow up to several public hearings held in late 2016. Motivated by recent contamination issues in upstate and Long Island, the report recaps the Senate hearings, provides overview of response action at several contamination sites, and includes several recommendations including the formation of a “Drinking Water Quality Institute” to help set and monitor water quality standards and improved public notification of water quality concerns. It also suggests several actions that will be of particular interest to Business Council members, including adopt of a “precautionary approach” in standard-setting, expanded medical monitoring at state superfund sites, and unspecified enhancement of water discharge permit oversight and enforcement. We expect the Senate to be introducing specific legislative proposals with Senator Kemp Hannon saying that a water quality institute bill will be introduced within 10 days, and will be providing our GAC and Environment Committee members with updates. Staff contact: Darren Suarez
  3. Income Tax Update: Governor Cuomo made pre-Christmas tax news when he suggested that he may consider extending the “millionaires’ tax” (currently a top personal income tax bracket of 8.82% on income above $2 million that expires at end of 2017, at which time the top PIT rate falls to 6.85% on income over $300,000.) This week, in his start-of-session remarks, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie reiterated his proposal from last year’s budget cycle to adopt three new PIT brackets of 8.82% ($1 to 5 million); 9.32% ($5 to 10 million); and 9.82% (over $10 million), giving New York the fourth highest top rate of any state. The current top bracket is valued at between $2 and $4 billion per year. The Division of Budget’s FY 2017 mid-year report showed PIT collections $1.2 billion or 5% below projected levels, leading to concerns about deficits the current and future fiscal years. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org
  4. Assembly Leadership and Committee Chairs: The Assembly has issued its leadership and committee chairs for the 2017 session. While most committees of interest to Business Council members remain the same, key changes include Banks (Ken Zebrowski replacing Annette Robinson), Consumer Affairs (Brian Kavanagh replacing Jeff Dinowitz, Corporations (Jeff Dinowitz replacing James Brennan) and Tourism (Dan O’Donnell replacing Margaret Markey)