For Release — Tuesday, May 23, 2006
NEW YORK'S LOSSES OF JOBS AND PEOPLE, THE COUNCIL AND 61 OTHER
BUSINESS GROUPS URGE LEGISLATURE TO ADDRESS 'ACTION FOR JOBS '06' AGENDA
ALBANY—Noting that New York State is losing jobs and people to other states at alarming rates, some five dozen business groups from around the state have written to state legislators pleading for post-budget action on an "Action for Jobs '06" policy agenda that addresses key issues in health insurance, workplace safety, and fiscal refoyrm.
"The New York State economy needs your help," the 62 business groups said in a letter that was sent today to all state legislators on "Action for Jobs '06" letterhead. "We haven't made up the jobs lost in the last recession - while the nation is some 2 million jobs ahead. We lose an average of 200,000 New Yorkers every year, in net out-migration to other states."
The group is the largest coalition of New York business organizations ever to coalesce around an agenda to make the state's economy more competitive and to bring jobs and people back to New York. Specifically, the letter asked state lawmakers to:
- Kill health-insurance mandate bills. Numerous health
insurance proposals circulating in Albany would increase employers’
costs and do nothing to reduce the number of uninsured or the overall
cost of health insurance. The bills would force employers of all sizes
to pay significant fees for worker health insurance coverage. Some of
the proposed legislation applies to businesses regardless of whether
or not the business already provides coverage to its employees.
Some of the proposals mandate a flat fee of hundreds of dollars per employee to go to a health insurance fund while other proposals mandate a dollars-per-hour fee that would multiply by the total number of employees. The fee would increase each year, based on the medical consumer-price index.
- Make workplace safety cost-effective. That means fixing workers' comp, and reforming Section 240/241, which is also known as the "Scaffold Law."
- Adopt serious debt reform. This year's budget proves
that even in good years, New York finds it all too tempting to pile
on spending by adding to the taxpayers' debt burden.
A recent study by Comptroller Alan Hevesi found that New York’s debt grew from $36.8 billion to $48.2 billion between 2000 and 2005, increasing per capita debt from $1,937 to $2,509 and debt as a percentage of income from 5 to 7 percent.
The study also found that New York’s debt is among the nation’s highest. When compared to the other largest 10 states, New York has the highest level of debt service as a percentage of revenue, and the second-highest level of per capita debt and debt as a percentage of income.
The coalition supports reforms recommended by the Comptroller, including a limit on outstanding state-funded debt to 5 percent of New Yorker's personal income -- it is now 7 percent -- and limit new borrowing to 95 percent of the previous year until debt as a percentage of personal income is below 5 percent.
Workers' comp: At $16,114, (up from $11,739 just three years ago) New York’s average workers’ comp claim is the second highest in the nation—86 percent above the national average, according to data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). NCCI data also show that average workers’ comp premiums in New York are 15 percent above the national average.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) claims account for only 15 percent of claims in New York, yet they account for 81 percent of the aggregate cost of workers’ comp. New York is one of only nine states that does not limit the duration of PPD awards. Key reform proposals have focused on reining in costs in this area while continuing to offer injured worker ample benefits.
The Scaffold Law: Insurance premiums for the construction industry continue to rise and contractors continue to shut their doors or move out of state, all because of the state's notorious Scaffold Law. The law has been interpreted by New York's court as an "absolute liability standard," which means property owners and their contractors have no way to defend their actions and their safety records in liability cases that fall under this statute. They are absolutely liable even if they bear no responsibility for the injury.
The Scaffold Law exposes New York's property owners and contractors to unfair liability, make business insurance prohibitively expensive if it's available at all, and drive up everyday costs for taxpayers and all New Yorkers.
The 62 organizations that signed the letter represent more than 104,000 employers who provide over 3.2 million jobs. They are:
- •The Business Council of New York State.
- New York Farm Bureau, Inc.
- National Federation of Independent Business
- New York State Economic Development Council
- Retail Council of New York State
- General Building Contractors
- Northeast Retail Lumber Association
- New York Association of Convenience Stores
- Empire State Forest Products Association
- New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association
- New York State Food Industry Alliance
- Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
- New York Workers Compensation Action Network
- Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Amherst Chamber of Commerce Greater
- Binghamton Chamber of Commerce
- Buffalo Niagara Partnership
- Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce
- Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce
- Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce
- Manufacturers Association of Central New York
- Chemung County Chamber of Commerce
- Chenango County Chamber of Commerce
- Columbia County Chamber of Commerce
- Corning Area Chamber of Commerce
- Cortland County Chamber of Commerce
- Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
- Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce
- Finger Lakes Chamber of Commerce
- Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Genesee County Chamber of Commerce
- Greece Chamber of Commerce
- Hornell Chamber of Commerce
- Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce
- Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
- Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
- New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Niagara USA Chamber
- Orange County Chamber of Commerce
- Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce
- The Otsego County Chamber
- Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce
- Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce
- Queens Chamber of Commerce
- Rochester Builders Exchange
- Rochester Business Alliance
- Rockland Business Association
- Rome Area Chamber of Commerce
- Saint Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce
- Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
- The Chamber of Schenectady County
- Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce
- Seneca County Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce
- The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County
- Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce
- Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
- Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas
- Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce
- Business Council of Westchester
- Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.