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For Release — Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BUSINESS COUNCIL URGES VETO OF UNION-SPONSORED BILLS
THAT WOULD WEAKEN STATE'S TAYLOR LAW

ALBANY, N.Y.—Proposed changes to the state Taylor Law would drive taxes higher and harm vital public services, the Business Council of New York State said in urging Governor Pataki to veto a number of bills the Legislature approved this session.

"Some of these bills would impose new costs directly," Business Council President/CEO Daniel B. Walsh wrote. "Others would shift the balance of negotiating power in collective bargaining further away from public employers, and thus lead to higher taxpayer costs in new employee contracts."

Walsh noted that Governor Pataki and other state leaders have recognized the economic damage caused by New York's taxes, the highest in the nation.

"Unfortunately, the Legislature voted this year to enact a number of bills that would drive our taxes still higher, by giving public-employee unions enormous new powers to demand and win preferential treatment," he said.

"Something is wrong when the Legislature's responsibility to balance the concerns of taxpayers and public employees skews overwhelmingly in the direction of giving unions more, and charging taxpayers more."

While Albany tends to deliver some new benefits for public-employee unions each year, Walsh wrote: "This year, the normal flow of union-sponsored bills became a flood."

The Council said the "most objectionable" bills include two that "would reward public-sector unions for refusal to agree to new contracts with the state, local school districts and other public employers," S.3177 and S.3178. Both are sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach and Assemblyman Peter Abbate. Both bills are also opposed by the New York State School Boards Association, New York State Association of Counties and New York State Conference of Mayors.

Walsh pointed to six other bills that would weaken public employers' ability to control costs, and manage important services, on behalf of the taxpayers.

"All of these bills could be considered more appropriately in the context of a broad review of the state's laws governing public-employee relations," he said. "The Taylor Law is nearly 40 years old. School boards and other public employers make a compelling case that elements of the law, such as the Triborough Amendment, should be amended or repealed as part of New York State’s ongoing efforts to reduce the tax burden. Enacting such bills piecemeal would make it all the more difficult to achieve real Taylor Law reform that considers the needs of both taxpayers and public employees."