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.
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.
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 While injured workers should be compensated appropriately, the SLU protocols in NYS reflect outdated medicine.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
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
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.
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
- Maintain existing Adaptive Reuse Policy
- Advance incentive programs to
encourage developmentprojects that support sustainability and inclusivity
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 a
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
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.
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.
- 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 in
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
- Push for an adequate and dedicated source of funding to support transportation infrastructure projects aimed at fixing and maintaining our nation’s crumbling highways, roads, bridges and transit systems
- 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
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.
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
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