January 30, 2004
Business Council adopts 2004 legislative priorities package
The Business Council has adopted policy priorities for the 2004 legislative session that emphasize opposition to new taxes, support for energy policies that ensure an ample supply of affordable and reliable electricity, workers' compensation reform, steps to improve small businesses' access to affordable health care, and more user-friendly environmental policies.
The broad policy priorities were set by the board in November, 2003. The Council's Government Affairs Council (GAC) approved the detailed agenda on January 20.
“The biggest priority we have is to fight against business tax increases,” said Elliott Shaw, The Council’s director of government affairs. “The Council wants to make it clear to lawmakers that more tax hikes are unacceptable.”
The Council's taxation priorities include fighting the "New Jersey Plan" of tax increases, a possible stock transfer tax, and and a new "pay or play" proposal to tax businesses that do not provide health insurance benefits. Such proposals are already being touted by pressure groups that support higher spending. (For information on new pressure for the New Jersey Plan of business tax increases. Details on the "pay or play" proposal.)
“We were successful last year in our efforts to fight a proposal pushed by spending advocates that would enact a plan similar to disastrous 2002 legislation in New Jersey,” Shaw said. “The Council will continue to fight this, and any other proposals, that push massive tax hikes onto business in New York.”
The taxation priorities also include:
- A proposed tax reform/economic stimulus package that targets key economic sectors in New York State and includes a single sales factor, investment tax credit for the securities and insurance industry, an expansion of certified capital companies, clarification of tax treatment of charges for telecommunications services, and proposes parity for all telecommunications carriers regarding tax dividends.
- A “Fair Real Property Taxes” Act that would be similar to the role of the State Tax Tribunal to include business challenges of local real property tax assessments.
The Council's priority agenda also includes:
- Energy cost and reliability: The Council would like lawmakers to reform the manner in which power transmission and distribution facilities are treated under the state’s real property taxation laws. The Council is also urging lawmakers to push back on regulatory initiatives and promote siting of additional power plant capacity.
- Workers’ Compensation: The Council’s Workers’ Compensation proposals include: a reduction of state assessments that support the “second injury fund;” a reduction of permanent partial awards by establishing scheduled awards for a broader range of permanent partial injuries; and adoption of objective medical guidelines.
- Health Care: The Council is proposing new programs to help employers drive health care system change at the local level and reduction in Medicaid costs as well as advocating a small business foundation health insurance plan free of some state insurance mandates.
- Economic Development Initiatives: The Council is proposing several economic development initiatives including: investment-based RPT benefit that would promote and reward capital investment and job retention in the manufacturing sector; a “Power for Jobs” program that provides reduced cost electric power to business that have significant power loads and commit to specific job creation or retention targets; and reform of the state’s empire zone that assure benefits are awarded to locally significant development projects. The Council is also continuing its support of key high tech investments that will shape the state’s economic future.
- Environment: The Council is promoting effective and efficient implementation of the state’s brownfield redevelopment program and is working with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s office on implementation of federal “new source review” reforms. The Council is also supporting measures to expedite project review which would apply to the Department of Environmental Conservation's rules for reviewing permit actions.
In addition to these policy priorities, The Council’s government affairs staff has prepared a detailed seven-page document that outlines Council priorities on specific pieces of legislation and other specific priorities.