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March 23, 2000

Momentum grows for Legislature to repeal GRT on energy; Business Council launches 'E-advocacy' effort to build support

Assembly legislation calling for repeal of the gross receipts tax on energy utility bills has drawn support from 39 members of the majority conference, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, chief sponsor of the measure, has announced.

Meanwhile, The Business Council and chambers of commerce around the state began inviting businesses to use a new “e-lobbying” system to contact members of the Legislature on the GRT issue.

The strong support for Assemblyman Schimminger’s legislation, expected to be introduced shortly, is the latest evidence that momentum is growing in Albany for action on the GRT this year. His proposal would phase out the 3.25 percent surcharge in two years, while giving manufacturers immediate relief from the tax.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno announced in December that his conference would propose eliminating the GRT. Governor Pataki included a similar proposal in his Executive Budget, and first proposed the manufacturers’ exemption starting this year. Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor have also proposed GRT repeal, with Faso’s proposal effective immediately. The Assembly Majority tax package unveiled by Speaker Sheldon Silver last week includes the manufacturers’ exemption and other business tax cuts.

Co-sponsors of Assemblyman Schimminger’s bill, as of March 20, included Assembly members:

The Business Council’s months-long campaign for GRT repeal entered an intensive new phase with announcement of an e-mail lobbying campaign supporters can use through the Internet.

Starting today, business leaders and other individuals can use The Council’s website to fax their own personalized letters in support of GRT repeal to Governor Pataki and legislative leaders. The program also targets letters to local legislators, based on the user’s address. If users choose, it generates letters that can be printed on the users’ own letterhead. The process takes the individual user just a few minutes.

“Our e-advocacy program gives us a powerful tool for our priority issue of repealing the GRT,” said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. “Working with chambers of commerce around the state, we expect this project to generate thousands of letters to our elected leaders.”

Meanwhile, Walsh sent a memo to members of the Legislature pointing out that, while Governor Pataki and the Legislature have enacted some $12 billion in tax cuts in recent years, actual revenues to the state continue to increase. Estimated tax revenues for the current fiscal year are nearly 35 percent higher than those in 1993-94, the year before the state started reducing taxes, the memo shows.

For a Business Council table comparing the tax-cut proposals before the Legislature, follow this link