Advocacy Agenda

Each year the Partnership produces an Advocacy Agenda which outlines our policy priorities at the federal, state and local level.  The initiative is launched at our annual Advocacy Agenda Rollout Event and is used to:

  • Drive our advocacy work for the year.
  • Guide our discussions with elected leaders and decision makers.
  • Focus our Government Affairs programming and events.

Taxes & Labor Costs

Buffalo Niagara employers operate in one of the most highly taxed and overly regulated economic environments anywhere in the country. Our members continue to identify high taxes and escalating labor costs as their largest barrier to success. In recent months, on balance, the score has only gotten worse as employers must now deal with minimum wage and paid leave policies. Without reform designed to provide significant relief, despite our successes, the Buffalo Niagara economy will continue to lag behind much of the country.

Tax Relief

key4 Lower Business Tax Rate
key3 Lower Personal Income & Create Small Business Exemption
key3 Protect Property Tax Cap

Reform Workers’ Compensationkey3

New York State continues to climb in the wrong direction when it comes to workers’ compensation costs. Meaningful, commonsense reforms are needed now to drive down costs and improve the system for both employers and employees.

Lower Healthcare Costs key4key3

Affordably providing healthcare to their employees is a
top concern for Buffalo Niagara employers. We support comprehensive access to affordable health insurance without imposing new mandates, taxes and punitive fines on employers. In addition, the medical tort system must be reformed to discourage defensive medicine, lower medical liability insurance rates and drive down costs for patients and employers.

Prevailing Wagekey3

  • Oppose expansion of prevailing wage mandate to any public or private project
Reform Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) Guidelines

When an employee is injured and suffers the loss of use of a specific body part, they are placed in the state’s SLU protocols. While injured workers should be compensated appropriately, the SLU protocols in NYS reflect outdated medicine.

  • Align SLU payments with updated evaluation guidelines to accurately reflect medical advancements and actual lost work time
Shorten Timelines for Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) imageone

MMI is the time it takes an injured worker to achieve optimal medical improvement from an injury, triggering the awarding of a final capped-benefit and providing resolution for all involved. For decades, this process routinely took about two years. Since 2007, MMI takes closer to six years to achieve, inflating costs and creating uncertainty for all stakeholders in the process.

  • NYS should return to the standard of determining MMI within two years of injury or start of treatment

18-a Utility Taxkey3

  • Total elimination of 18-a utility tax in 2017 as scheduled and guard against creation of a replacement tax negatively impacting manufacturers and other high demand users

Development & Construction

Our regional economy continues to benefit from new construction projects and the redevelopment of existing properties, but future success is not guaranteed. Development policies and incentive regulations must be aligned with Buffalo Niagara’s regional growth plan to encourage private sector investment and sustainable development. Reforms are also critical to lowering construction costs and encouraging the redevelopment of contaminated properties.

IDA Policy with One Region Forwardkey2

One Region Forward is Buffalo Niagara’s nationally recognized sustainable growth plan. It defines key policy strategies and implementation measures for how we can manage our infrastructure, invest in our economy and direct our growth.

  • Align policy at the Erie County Industrial Development
    Agency, Niagara County Industrial Development
    Agency and all local IDAs with One Region
    Forward, including:imagetwo
  • Maintain existing Adaptive Reuse Policy
  • Advance incentive programs to
    encourage developmentprojects that support sustainability and inclusivity

Scaffold Law Reformkey3

New York is the only state in the nation
operating under an outdated Scaffold
Law unfairly holding property owners,
employers and contractors absolutely
liable for injuries when a worker falls on ahazardicon
construction site. Under the current law, any contributing fault of the worker – even gross negligence, intoxication or refusal to use safety equipment – cannot be considered in court.

  • Reform the Scaffold Law by replacing absolute liability
    with a comparative negligence standard, allowing liability
    to be apportioned based on fault – the standard that
    exists in every state except New York

Asbestos Remediation Reformkey3

  • Remove barriers to redevelopment by incentivizing asbestos abatement and reforming remediation requirements

Workforce Development

Creating jobs is only half the battle. Buffalo Niagara’s economic growth is being challenged by our inability to place qualified employees in existing job openings and develop a strong pipeline of trained workers for the job opportunities we know are on the horizon. Government, education and training entities and employers must work together to build a qualified workforce with 21st century skills. Success depends on our collective ability to invest in and support education and workforce development initiatives that adequately prepare workers to be career ready, especially for occupations in targeted industry sectors with high and immediate demand in Buffalo Niagara.

advagenda-01_12_17-chart

Pell Grant Programkey4

  • Support scheduled reauthorization and expand eligibility to cover certificate programs and other job readiness training

Perkins Career and Technical Education Actkey4

  • Support overdue reauthorization with a focus on aligning programs and funding with the needs of regional, state, and local labor markets

Local Workforce Investment Board (WIB)key2

  • Encourage city and county leaders to appoint private sector employer representatives
  • Target WIB resources for training programs matching WNY
    Regional Economic Development Council priorities and
    targeted industry sectors

Transportation & Infrastructure

Economic development does not happen without well-designed, well-maintained and well-funded infrastructure. The safe and efficient
movement of goods, services and people is at the core of our economy. Government at all levels must make infrastructure funding and transportation initiatives a priority, and commit to working with employers to identify areas of concern and opportunity.

Border Efficiencykey4

  • Implement border efficiency measures to better move goods and people across Buffalo Niagara’s international border crossings, including:
  • Implementation of the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and
    National Security Act – a critical piece of legislation inimagethree
    fully executing the Beyond the Border agreement
  • Support call for the Canada Border Services Agency to employ adequate, appropriate staffing at its primary
    inspection booths entering Canada
  • Sufficient staffing of customs agents in both Canada and
    the United States during the Peace Bridge Rehabilitation
    Project

key3Power Grid

  • Support upgrades to New York’s
    aging power grid to improve
    reliability and ensure Buffaloimagefour
    Niagara’s economy benefits from
    moving locally produced electricity
    downstate

Natural Gas Transmission Systemkey3

  • Develop New York’s natural gas transmission system to
    effectively move gas from Pennsylvania through New York
    and to other markets to improve reliability, keep consumer prices low and spur investment

Transportation Funding

  • Push for an adequate and dedicated source of fundingkey4 to support transportation infrastructure projects aimed at fixing and maintaining our nation’s crumbling highways, roads, bridges and transit systems
    key3
  • Push for continued capital budget parity between the New York Department of Transportation (Upstate) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Downstate) to help ensure Buffalo Niagara receives its fair share of transportation infrastructure funding
Value of Dependable Transportation Systems

Ridesharing Serviceskey3

  • Support regulatory framework necessary to allow ridesharing services to operate in Buffalo Niagara and all across New York State

Investing in Buffalo Niagara

Buffalo Niagara is poised to reap the long-term benefits of strategically investing tax dollars into two key sectors driving our economy – higher education and tourism. By wisely reinvesting these public dollars, state and local leaders have the opportunity to leverage the largest return for our community in the form of new jobs, additional tax revenue and sustainable economic development.

University at Buffalo (UB)key3

  • Support SUNY 2020 and ability for UB and other SUNY
    schools to implement a rational tuition policy
  • Support increased capital investment in UB

Tourism Fundingkey2

  • Significantly increase Hotel Occupancy Tax (Bed Tax) allocation to Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN) to fully realize the tourism potential of the Buffalo Niagara region
If VBN received the same % of Bed Tax as it did in 2000, its budget would be over $5.5M today

Other Visiting Bureaus operating at over $5M:

Bloomington, MN | Grand Rapids, MI | Omaha, NE

Citations

1 – “2017 State Business Tax Climate Index;” Walczak, Drenkard & Henchman; Tax Foundation; September 28, 2016

2 – “2016 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary;” Day, Manley & Dotter; The Department of Consumer & Business Services, State of Oregon, October 2016

3 – One Region Forward: A New Way to Plan for Buffalo Niagara; University at Buffalo Regional Institute Analysis; 2014

4, 5 – “The Costs of Labor Law 240 on New York’s Economy and Public Infrastructure;” Hattery, Geddes & Kay; Rockefeller Institute; 2013

6 – “Memo: Labor Law 240 and Loss Costs;” Richard Geddes, Cornell University, 2014

7 – New York State Department of Labor, Labor Staffing Patterns & Long-term Occupation Projections through 2022

8, 9 – National Center for Educational Statistics, IPEDS, 2014; O*NET 20.2 Database “Career Changers Matrix” 2015

10 – “New York’s Top Transportation Issues: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility;” TRIP; January 2016

11 – “Cheap easy rides vs safety drive Uber debate;” The Buffalo News; January 15, 2016

12 – University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

13 – Visit Buffalo Niagara