Business Council testimony decries tax and fee increases, calls for spending restraint


Director of Communications

Testimony to: Senate Finance Committee, Catharine Young, Chair and Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Helene E. Weinstein, Chair
FY 2019 Executive Budget: Taxation Issues

Presented by Kenneth J. Pokalsky, Vice President
February 8, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y.—The Business Council of New York State, Inc., today presented testimony to the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Taxation. In testimony offered by The Business Council’s vice president, Kenneth J. Pokalsky, the Council reiterated its call for no new taxes or fees in the 2018-19 NYS Budget, and urged the Legislature to adopt measures to avoid imposing increased tax liability on business or individuals due to changes in federal tax law.

“Rather than pursuing new or increased tax measures, New York needs to focus more on its spending,” said, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., in describing the Council’s response to Executive Budget tax proposals. “In his State of the State message, the Governor argued that increasing the cost of state and local taxes makes New York less competitive - and helps other states at our expense. We couldn’t agree more, and would emphasize that this is true whether the tax increases come from federal or state legislative actions.”

“While the Governor and the Legislature deserve credit for keeping recent budget increases at two percent, the fact remains that our spending is completely out of line with our fellow states. Our spending imbalance is most noticeable in the areas of education, where our per-pupil spending is more than any other state, and Medicaid, where our total expenditures are greater than every state other than California, and exceed those of Texas and Florida combined,” Briccetti added.

As laid out in the accompanying testimony, The Business Council raised concerns regarding a number of tax increases and tax policy changes proposed in the Executive Budget, including:

  • The deferral of most economic development tax credits;
  • A new tax on manufactures of opioid and related pharmaceuticals;
  • A targeted tax on health insurance companies;
  • The elimination of sales tax deductions for energy transmission services;
  • Significant new fees on the use of highway right-of-ways for fiber optic cables; and others.

“The Business Council, through our 2018 Blueprint for a Better New York, has laid out a series of commonsense reforms that would lower the cost of doing business in New York and help spur economic growth and job creation,” added Briccetti.

Those reforms include:

  • Improving the state’s workforce development efforts to more directly address current employer workforce needs.
  • Expanding and updating New York State’s energy infrastructure, expediting state review and approval of new transmission capacity, and providing for the extension of natural gas service. Reducing state-imposed energy assessments on industrial/commercial customers.
  • Adopting broad-based labor law reforms, including standards for pay periods and methods of pay, workable standards for defining employees and contractors, workable statewide standards for employee scheduling (with local preemption), limits on Department of Labor wage order authority, restoration of full “experience rating” in Unemployment Insurance tax tables, and others.
  • Adopting additional state tax reforms, including small business income tax reductions for pass through entities, Article 9A technical amendments, repeal of the False Claims Act’s extension to tax cases, a refundable Research & Development investment credit, updating corporate and personal income tax codes in response to federal reforms, and others.
  • Adopting long-necessary liability reforms, including adoption of a comparative liability standard under Labor Law Section 240 (which can be addressed as part of Executive Law 15-A/MWBE extension).
  • Continuing support for education policies and initiatives that promote college and workforce readiness.
  • Updating and reforming the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and other project review programs and requirements in order to promote new private sector investments.
  • Eliminating sector-specific barriers to growth, such as limits on CPA firm ownership, among others

“Increasingly, pro-spending advocates and politicians are calling enhanced corporate profits from changes in the federal tax code a “windfall” and arguing for higher state taxes in response. We strongly disagree. These monies, which employers are already sharing with their employees in the form of wage increases, additional 401k distributions, bonuses and other investments, were earned by these businesses and are a result of the United States finally fixing a deeply uncompetitive business tax structure which kept money and investment overseas and stifled U.S.-based growth,” added Briccetti.