ALBANY, N.Y.—Statement by Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State
The state maintained fiscal discipline in this year’s budget while addressing pressing upstate and downstate infrastructure needs. But after making steady progress over the past five years in improving the state’s business climate, the 2016 session took a hard turn to the left, resulting in dramatic new costs and mandates on private sector employers. In the wake of a $15 per hour minimum wage, and the nation’s most expansive Paid Family Leave mandate, we are further disappointed that the session ended without agreement on any major pro-growth or cost reduction measures, such as workers’ comp reform, statewide ridesharing standards, promoting wireless and solar investments, or others. Several helpful bills were adopted, including those related to liquor sales and the production of craft beverages, but their value is overwhelmed by the cost of recently adopted employer mandates.
Meanwhile – as shown in the chart below - New York remains an economically divided state, with New York City showing significant growth, its northern suburbs and Long Island keeping pace with national trends, and upstate treading water, barely restoring jobs lost in the Great Recession.
Despite these trends, the remedy offered this year for the state’s lagging upstate economy was to impose higher wage costs, new employment mandates, and no real relief from regulatory mandates.
Recent economic indicators, coupled with the continued lack of growth throughout wide areas of the state, should give lawmakers – and voters - a lot to think about as they head toward this fall’s elections. The people of New York State are clamoring for economic growth and signs that things are getting better. The only real response is the adoption of pro-growth, job-friendly legislation that would benefit all New Yorkers. Unfortunately, that important work will now have to wait until January 2017.