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For Release — March 2, 2016

Business Council reminds lawmakers of its legislative priorities
As state budget experts paint a less than rosy picture for future state revenues, now is not the time to enact further unfunded mandates on business

ALBANY, N.Y.—The Business Council of New York State, Inc. today reminded lawmakers of its legislative agenda and its strident opposition to proposals to drastically increase the minimum wage and enact the country’s most expansive Paid Family Leave law.

“As we head into the final weeks of negotiations on the 2016-17 state budget, we are asking state lawmakers to remember who drives New York’s economy,” said Heather C. Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Any legislation passed here in New York must reflect our competitive standing against other states and the present turbulent economic reality. Business leader confidence, as measured by the Siena Research Institute, is waning across upstate, and national economists are increasingly predicting little to no growth. The last thing our state lawmakers should be doing is enacting laws that only add to the billions of dollars in hidden taxes paid by all New Yorkers.”

While The Business Council will work hard to ensure our entire Legislative Agenda is achieved, we will maintain a particular focus on the following goals:

Maintain Budget Discipline – Adopt a sixth-consecutive on-time state budget that keeps state operating spending growth under two percent. New York’s fiscal discipline has allowed the state to adopt important tax reforms and avoid the significant budget challenges – and pressures for new or increased taxes – faced by a number of other states.

Small Business Tax Reform – Following on state and New York City corporate tax reform adopted in 2014 and 2015, adopt business tax reductions for small businesses organized as pass-through entities, including Sub-S corporations, LLCs and partnerships, by increasing the business income tax exemption under the personal income tax and decreasing the corporate franchise tax rate for small businesses.

Workers’ Compensation Reform – Fully realize the cost savings of duration caps on permanent partial disability benefits, by generally commencing duration caps at two years after an injury. Finalize and implement administrative updates to medical guidelines on scheduled loss of use awards, and mandate the use of panel providers for the first ninety days of medical treatment. Reform indexing of maximum benefits to reflect regional average weekly wages.

Infrastructure Investments – Dedicate the nearly $2 billion in remaining financial settlement “windfall funds” to infrastructure programs, including roads, bridges, water and sewer projects. Assure a fully funded road and bridge program in conjunction with adopting a five-year MTA capital plan. Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Fund to support important programs including pollution prevention, agricultural business projects, green energy and others.

MTA Cost shift – Repeal the provision in section 12-a of the TED Article VII Budget Bill that would shift the cost of capital improvements made by the Metropolitan Transit Authority from the MTA to utilities and their customers.

Energy Assessment – Repeal Section 18-a energy gross receipts assessment, retroactive to 1/1/16, avoiding the collection of an additional $200 million from business and residential ratepayers. Adopt measures to provide price protection to large energy consumers from energy assessments. Adopt a self-directed energy program with a cap on percentage energy assessments as a percentage of energy assessments. Exclude large energy consumers from the cost associated with residential customer system upgrades associated with the Reforming Energy Vision.

Education and Workforce Development – Maintain the state’s commitment to enhanced education standards; continue to expand the New York State P-TECH program; provide funding for incumbent employment training; and continue to develop CTE and STEM education initiatives.

Non-CPA Ownership – Support legislation authorizing minority non-CPA ownership in public accountancy firms.

Energy Infrastructure Investment – Expand access to natural gas for manufacturing facilities, including: dedicate state energy assessment resources to pipeline extensions; expedite the state review of applications for expansion of natural gas infrastructure; authorize real property tax exemptions for the increased assessed value attributable to new natural gas distribution facilities; and repeal the outdated requirement that the Department of Transportation creates certified LNG transport routes.

Canal Authority Transfer - Oppose a proposed transfer of the Canal Authority to the Power Authority because the Canal Authority will be a drain on the finances of the Power Authority. This transfer will put in jeopardy the Power Authority’s ability to deliver low-cost electricity to New York businesses and not-for-profits.

Scaffold Law Reform – Reform the antiquated Scaffold Law by adopting a standard that assigns comparative negligence similar to that in place for other forms of liability.

SEQRA – Adopt legislative reforms to the State Environmental Quality Review Act to provide more certainty in project reviews, including: clarifying the standard for complete applications; heightening the standard for issues to be subject to administrative adjudication; making adherence to state review timetables mandatory; and assuring application of statutory and regulatory standards.

Transportation Alternatives – Support legislation authorizing transportation network companies to operate statewide; addressing key issues such as insurance coverage, while avoiding a patchwork of local regulatory regimes.

UI Experience Rating – With the state’s UI fund returning to long term solvency, we would like to see restoration of the five UI tax table rungs repealed in Chapter 57, Laws of 2013, to reflect the lower costs imposed by stable employers. These applied to employers with positive account percentages above 10.75 percent.

Contract Procurement – Update and extend the “Procurement Stewardship Act;” adopt reforms that provide post-award debriefings for unsuccessful bidders; streamline MWBE certification and recertification process and revisit the net worth threshold.

Reject Wage/Benefit Mandates – Oppose new pay mandates, including significant additional increases in the minimum wage; authorization for municipal-level minimum wages; extension of public works prevailing wage to private sector activities; new paid leave mandates.

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