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February 13, 2003

Chambers lead participation in new ‘e-advocacy’ campaign

More than 3,500 New Yorkers affiliated with local and regional chambers of commerce have responded to a new electronic-advocacy campaign designed to convince lawmakers to restrain state spending and reject higher taxes.

The Business Council launched the campaign earlier this month. It enables visitors to the Web sites of The Council and participating chambers to automatically generate faxed letters on this issue to their state Assembly members and Senators, and to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

More than 900 others have logged on through The Council's own Web site, www.bcnys.org. All told, the initiative by Feb. 13 had produced 5,891 letters faxed to state lawmakers urging them to reject higher taxes.

"We salute these chambers for reminding lawmakers that high taxes kill jobs and lower taxes create jobs," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh.

Chambers that are leading participants in the e-advocacy include the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, the Greater Syracuse Chamber, the Orange County Chamber, the Chautauqua County Chamber, the Genesee County Chamber, the North Country Chamber, the Chemung County Chamber, the County Chamber (Westchester), the Rochester Business Alliance and the Southern Saratoga County Chamber.

To participate in the e-advocacy, visit www.bcnys.org and click on the icon that says "Vote NO on higher taxes." After visitors enter their name and address, the system automatically identifies their legislators and generate letters to them opposing higher taxes. (Copies of the letters are e-mailed to the users.)

The Council also launched a newspaper ad campaign in early February with the same message.

"More taxes or more jobs? That's the choice facing New York," says the ad, which has run in more than two dozen daily and weekly newspapers.

As The Business Council took these steps, the Fiscal Policy Institute, which is funded by unions and left-of-center foundations, intensified its pressure on lawmakers for higher tax brackets and surcharges on taxpayers earning more than $100,000. This would drive taxes sharply higher for most businesses and for hundreds of thousands of individuals, including many union members.

But New York's total state and local tax burden remains the nation's second-highest, even after major state tax cuts in recent years. Per capita corporate income taxes in particular are more than twice the national average.

The Governor has insisted that the state must avoid "job-killing taxes" and instead must solve its fiscal problems by restraining spending. Senate Majority Leader Bruno has also spoken strongly against tax increases.