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For Release — December 28, 2014

The Business Council offers state leaders some suggestions for New Year’s resolutions

ALBANY, N.Y.—The New Year is a popular time for resolutions and with that in mind, the state’s leading business organization—The Business Council of New York State—is urging state leaders to make a resolution to improve the state’s business climate.

“Resolutions are easy to make, but keeping them is harder because that requires a plan which usually involves diet, exercise and will power. It’s the same with the state, improving the business climate will require exercising discipline, watching our fiscal diet and mustering the willpower to make some hard choices,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council.”

With that in mind, The Business Council offers the following steps needed to improve the New York State’s business climate:

Step 1:  Exercise discipline by continuing to limit state budget growth to two percent or less by controlling spending.

“Thanks to four years of controlling spending, New York has a surplus and that means there will be tremendous pressure from interest groups to increase spending. Taxes in New York are still too high and the only way to consistently reduce them is by controlling spending,” said Briccetti.

Step 2: When spending, spend wisely. For several reasons including a series of major financial settlements, the state has amassed a windfall of about $5 billion.

“The Business Council believes most of that windfall should be spent on infrastructure improvements which are much needed throughout the state. We would also support using a portion of the surplus to eliminate the assessment on energy bills, the so-called 18A assessment, which was imposed during the recession and which contributes to New York businesses’ high energy costs,” said Briccetti.

Step 3: Make the property tax cap permanent. New Yorkers pay well over $50 billion annually in real property taxes, and New York businesses pay $17 billion–the largest tax by far paid by most in-state business.  Adopted in 2011, the cap is at risk in 2015 as its future is tied to an extension of the New York City rent control law.

“The tax cap has imposed fiscal discipline on municipalities and school districts across the state and has allowed businesses some assurance against wild spikes in their property tax bills. High property taxes are one of the major reasons why New York gets such low scores on nationwide business climate surveys, said Briccetti.

Step 4: Reduce the cost of doing business. Workers’ compensation costs would be a good start, as all employers in New York are affected by the cost of these mandated benefits.  A recent study by the American Legislative Exchange Council showed workers’ compensation costs in New York, at $2.82 per $100 of payroll—the fifth highest among the states.  In part, these costs were driven by higher maximum benefits, as they more than doubled since 2007, and became fully indexed to the average state wage.  In 2015, The Business Council is focusing on several reforms – including the revamping of guidelines for determining schedule loss of use awards, and allowing for longer use of preferred provider networks for medical care–that will reduce comp costs while assuring high quality care.  Moreover, the state needs to move forward on a broad regulatory reform agenda, looking at unnecessary or outdated rules, especially where state mandates are inconsistent with federal requirements.

Step five: Resist temptation. Interest groups will advance a wide array of bills that add to business costs or impair business operations, ranging from new and increased pay and benefit mandates, to prohibitions on products and materials, expanded opportunities for litigation and others.

“Working collaboratively through some hard fiscal times, the Legislature and the Governor have made real progress toward a better business climate in the state and at The Business Council, we urge them to keep moving forward,” said Briccetti.

About The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

The Business Council is the leading business organization in the state.  It represents the interests of public and private companies, colleges and universities, local and regional chambers of commerce and professional and trade associations across the state.
The primary function of the organization is to serve as an advocate for employers in the state political and policy-making arena, working for a healthier business climate, economic growth, and jobs.

The mission of The Business Council is to create economic growth, good jobs and strong communities across New York State.