What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

September 20, 2002

Governor urges new tax cuts, signs bill to help sole proprietors afford health care

Saying "we know that tax cuts empower you to create jobs," Gov. George Pataki today told Business Council members that he would seek new targeted tax cuts to enable New York to continue its recent gains in job growth.

In remarks Sept. 20 at The Business Council's Annual Meeting, the Governor noted that New York has gained more than 600,000 jobs since January of 1995. He attributed much of that growth to tax reductions and other improvements in the state's business climate.

"From cutting taxes, to reducing workers' compensation costs, to eliminating and reforming thousands of burdensome regulations, we've launched a comprehensive effort to keep New York's small businesses as strong as possible -- but we're committed to doing even more," Governor Pataki said.

The Governor also warned that state government must restrain spending to eliminate an expected budget gap next year. "We're going to have to make government smarter, smaller and more efficient," he said.

In his remarks, the Governor reviewed his record in improving New York's business climate and reversing declines in job growth in New York State.

He said his administration would continue to pursue other improvements to the business climate, including:

Citing Albany's recent success in attracting a major high-tech investment by the semiconductor consortium Sematech, he said New York is well positioned for further high-tech growth and a competitive future.

The Business Council has proposed additional tax reductions, such as the elimination of the alternative minimum tax and adoption of the single-sales method of apportioning corporate income.

Health insurance for sole proprietors: Also at The Council's Annual Meeting today, the Governor signed into law a bill that addresses a long-time Council priority by giving sole proprietors access to more affordable health insurance through chambers of commerce and other associations.

With more than a dozen representatives of local and regional chambers of commerce at his side, the Governor conducted a special bill-signing ceremony during The Business Council's Annual Meeting at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, Warren County. The bill's prime sponsors are Senator James Seward (R-Otsego County) and Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle (D-Monroe County). Senator Seward participated in the ceremony, as did an Assembly sponsor, Robin Schimminger (D-Erie County).

"This new law will help to ensure that thousands of small business owners across the state -- and their families -- will have access to the quality, affordable health care they need and deserve," the Governor said.

In recent years, significant increases in health insurance costs have been especially burdensome to sole proprietors, who have seen sudden premium increases of as much as 30 percent or more.

In many cases, these cost increases have put health insurance out of reach for these sole proprietors. Some insurers eliminated sole proprietors' long-standing access to group-rated insurance coverage that had been available through membership in chambers of commerce or other business associations.

Under the new law, sole proprietors can be included in the definition of small groups eligible for group-rate insurance available through chambers or other associations. That group rate had been available only to groups of between two and 50 employees.

The governor estimated that the law would help some 250,000 sole proprietors buy health insurance at more affordable rates.

The law also requires sole proprietors to be certified by general-purpose chambers or associations as legitimate businesses and thus eligible for group-rate insurance.

Beth Coleman, President of the Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Chamber Alliance of New York State said, "New York's chambers of commerce deeply appreciate the leadership of Governor Pataki and the commitment of the State Legislature in addressing this critical issue. Sole proprietors, New York's smallest businesses, have for many years struggled to find affordable health insurance. This law will significantly ease that burden by enabling sole proprietors to find more affordable insurance through chambers and other business groups."