Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Monday, April 19, 2004


ALBANY—New York State employers surveyed by The Business Council overwhelmingly say their workers' compensation costs have increased in the last five years, and these costs are limiting employers' opportunities to grow, hire new workers, and sustain other business investments.

In fact, more than a third of respondents to the survey said New York's workers' compensation costs are encouraging them to consider re-locating their business out of state. And about one in five respondents said these costs are forcing their businesses to either leave the state or expand elsewhere.

"New York's workers' comp costs have long been above average by every measure we have seen, and this survey confirms that this difference has very negative consequences for New York's prosperity," said Daniel B. Walsh. "Other states have enacted reforms to help contain costs, and we agree with Governor Pataki that it's time for New York to do the same."

The survey was sent to members of The Business Council and other employer associations in New York. There were 308 responses. A complete tally of responses and tallies of responses by region, company size, and industry.

In response to specific survey questions:

Momentum for workers' comp reform has been building statewide. For example, as of April 19, a Web-based "electronic advocacy" campaign has produced 7,972 letters from 1,679 individuals. These letters, which are faxed to lawmakers in Albany, express support for reform, thank the Governor for his reform proposal, and urge lawmakers to reject a bill that would increase benefits without enacting cost-cutting reforms. The Council is conducting this campaign with the Chamber Alliance of New York State, dozens of local and regional chambers, and other business associations around the state.

Governor Pataki announced his reform proposal at The Business Council's Small Business Day March 23 in Albany. He said his plan would cut employers' costs by 15 percent while raising maximum benefits by 25 percent. That reform package, which The Business Council is supporting, has been introduced in the Senate (S.6841-Rules). The bill would:

The Council is also strongly supporting a bill (S.5320-Libous, A.8862-Schimminger) that would:

And The Council is strongly opposing a bill (S.6135-Velella/A. 9736-John) that would raise benefits substantially without enacting any of the critical cost-cutting reforms. The Council's preliminary estimate is that this bill would worsen employers' cost burden by 25 percent or more.