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For Release — Friday, June 14, 2002

BUSINESS COUNCIL TO GOVERNOR PATAKI: 'HELP!'
Council's letter asks Governor to help repel 'Albany's Attack on Jobs'

ALBANY—Several bills that would impose enormous new costs on New York's employers threaten the health of upstate's economy and could reverse much of New York's recent economic progress, The Business Council has warned Governor George Pataki.

In a June 13 letter to the Governor, Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh asked the Governor for help — by repelling what The Business Council is calling "Albany's Attack on Jobs."

Amid growing concern among business leaders around the state about the bills, The Council also kicked off an "electronic-advocacy" initiative to enable visitors to The Council's Web site (www.bcnys.org) to directly express their concerns to the Governor and legislative leaders.

Background on 'Albany's Attack on Jobs': The bills in question would: dramatically increase workers' compensation benefits with no cost-cutting reforms; increase and index the state's minimum wage; increase tort claims by trial lawyers and inflate their contingency fees in medical malpractice cases; and extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, adding more than $1 billion in unfunded costs to the UI system and increasing business taxes.

"We believe the billions of dollars in new costs on employers would almost certainly result in the loss of thousands of jobs," Walsh wrote. The threat is especially alarming upstate, he added.

"The upstate economy, in particular, lagged behind during much of the recovery of the late 1990s; the most recent Labor Department data show Binghamton, Rochester, and several other upstate regions losing jobs at a faster pace than the nation," the letter said. "Higher costs for workers' compensation, wages, and health insurance will only make it still more difficult for New York employers to compete."

Walsh noted that the proposals have in common the strenuous support of narrow political constituencies.

"In each case, certain individuals - relatively small in number, but clearly identifiable - will benefit. Unfortunately, a much greater number of working families and individuals all across New York - whose names would never appear in the newspapers or on television - will suffer the economic repercussions as employers struggle to handle increased costs."

The economic damage created by a higher cost of doing business would also intensify Albany's challenge addressing next year's already troubling fiscal prospects, the letter said.

"New York State's economy is dramatically stronger today because you and the Legislature have cut taxes and enacted other reforms to our business climate," the letter concluded "The question now is whether we will continue to move forward - or once again fall behind the rest of the nation.

"Governor, we urge you to continue the work you have done to create an economic renaissance in New York by stopping these costly proposals.

"Help!"

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