For Release — July 26, 2015
Business Council praises leaders for tax cap extension
End of session deal avoided new costs and mandates on business
Statement by Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State
The Business Council of New York State, Inc., applauds the four-year extension of the real property tax cap included as part of the end-of-session legislative package. The cap remains a tremendous success, having saved businesses and homeowners more than $7.5 billion. The cap’s extension was our top priority for the end of session. While we would like to have seen a permanent extension, we are pleased the leaders passed changes that will help incentivize business investments, while rejecting cap-busting exemptions.
The Business Council also endorsed late session passage of legislation improving the state’s workers’ compensation, contract procurement, and commercial insurance programs; and legislation that allows for more charter schools in New York City.
Equally important, the session ended with no significant adverse business legislation receiving two-house approval. We are particularly pleased with the Senate Majority for rejecting the so-called “Safe Child Product’s Act” which would have created a tremendous regulatory burden without making consumer products safer.
Overall, this was a good session for our members. It started with a fiscally responsible, controlled-growth budget that included New York City tax conformance and the extension of the state’s valuable brownfield cleanup program. It ended with a property tax cap extension and little damage done. We thank Governor Cuomo, Leader Flanagan and Speaker Heastie for continuing progress on controlling spending and adopting broad-based tax reform. We still have plenty of work left to do in lowering the cost of doing business, reducing regulatory burdens, and enacting other measures to improve the state’s business climate.
The following provides The Business Council’s overview of the 2015 Legislative Session:
Despite its drawn out conclusion, the 2015 legislative session mirrored 2014, with significant achievements made as part of the state budget, and an end of session dominated by non-business-centric issues. This session’s adjournment was delayed by negotiations over New York City rent control, mayoral control over New York City schools, and a new education investment tax credit.
Importantly, with the extension of rent control, the real property tax cap that applies statewide outside of New York City, was extended through 2020. When the cap was first adopted in 2011, its effectiveness past June 15, 2016 was contingent on extension of rent control past that date. The Business Council was a major supporter of the cap’s enactment and extension, although we strongly preferred a permanent extension, unlinked to other laws. The Business Council, along with the Empire Center and other pro-growth groups, brought focus to the cap’s impact – reducing total real property tax payments by an estimated $7.6 billion.
The FY 2016 budget was the session’s highlight. By maintaining a low rate of growth, it continued the state’s fiscal restraint. This achievement has become increasingly significant as we watch other states struggle with budget gaps and the need to impose major tax increases.
The budget also amended and extended the state’s brownfield program. The Business Council was a strong advocate for continuation of this cost-effective program that has resulted in more than $6.5 billion in private investment.
The budget also updated the New York City general corporation tax, to bring it into conformance with reforms made last year to the state corporation tax. This move will simplify compliance for business taxpayers, while improving the city’s ability to oversee and audit compliance. The agreement also included modest tax reductions for businesses operating in the city.
Other budget highlights include adoption of education reforms and funding a third round of P-TECH partnerships, extension of “design build” authority for two years, expanded video lottery gaming, and the dedication of “windfall” financial settlement funds to economic development projects.
Importantly, the final budget agreement rejected several proposals to impose new costs and mandates on business. Those proposals included increased taxes on health plans, additional increases in the state’s minimum wage, and a new mandate for paid family leave.
While the post-budget session was focused on downstate issues, several pro-business bills received two-house approval. These include:
- S.5713-B (DeFrancisco) / S.7513-C (Peoples-Stokes) initially proposed by Comptroller DiNapoli, adopted a number of improvements to the state’s contract procurement process, including: mandating detailed debriefs for unsuccessful bidders; standardizing use of the state’s “vendor responsibility system;” allowing agencies to use “competitive negotiations” with potential bidders; and others.
- S.3513-A (Seward) / A.6131-A (Steck) extends for 4 years the 2011 commercial insurance modernization reforms that expanded the types of insurance which may be written without prior approval of rates and forms when sold to large commercial policyholders.
- S.4446-A(Boyle) / A.5920-A (Steck) clarifies the State Liquor Authority’s legal authority to penalize licensees based on perceived violations of the laws of other states, to limit such enforcement to cases where the conduct in question amounts to an independent violation of New York State’s alcoholic beverage control law or has resulted in a criminal conviction in another state.
- S.5979 (Rules) / A.8259-A (Morelle) clarifies the Workers’ Compensation Board to make interim and final assessments against members of defaulted trusts, and in doing so, avoiding the imposition of increased assessments on self-insured employers and still-solvent trusts.
Likewise, our advocacy was successful in pushing back against proposals to put new costs, burdens and/or restrictions on business. The most significant include:
- S.4102-A (Boyle) and.5612 (Englebright), which would have created a new, state-level chemical safety review process, with bans on the sale of products containing priority chemicals.
- S.485 (LaValle) / A.617 (Rosenthal), which would have required the labeling of GMO-containing products.
- S.4846 (Bonacic) / A.6714 (Weinstein), which would have deemed businesses registering to conduct business in New York also subject to the general jurisdiction of New York State courts, a measure that would clog New York courts with out-of-state issues, and set a bad precedent for action by other states.
- S.3998-A(Boyle) / A.6068 (Morelle) amends the General Business Law to mandate that original equipment manufacturers of digital electronic equipment that is sold or leased in New York must make available for purchase that equipment’s diagnostic and repair information, embedded software, tools and other parts to owners of the equipment and to independent repair providers not associated with the manufacturer.
- S.2530 (Golden) / A.6194 (Joyner), which would limit pharmacy mail order options for health insurance purchasers and result in increased pharmaceutical costs, has passed the Assembly.