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.

Buffalo Niagara employers operate in one of the most highly taxed and overly regulated economic environments in the country. The regulatory burden, high taxes and escalating labor costs are significant impediments to growth and investment. Without real reform, this reality will continue to significantly stifle the region’s competitiveness despite local economic development progress.

Tax Relief

  • Lower Business Tax Rate
  • Lower Property Taxes
    • Reduce unfunded mandates driving high property taxes
    • Allow commercial property owners to benefit from property tax relief efforts
  • Ease Tax Burden on Small Businesses
    • Increase percentage of exemption for small employers who file through personal income tax
    • Lower the rate for small employers who file through corporate tax

Employer Mandateskey3

New employer mandates emanating from Albany are a burden on Buffalo Niagara employers. However well intentioned, these mandates fail to recognize the negative impact they have on both employers and employees. Proposed On-Call Scheduling regulations released in late 2017 by the NYS Department of Labor are a prime example. Equally troubling is the trend of sweeping policy changes being advanced as executive action without the benefit of the legislative process.

Paid Family Leavekey3

New York is home to the most expansive Paid Family Leave mandate in the country, impacting employers’ administrative and productivity costs. State leaders must keep their pledge not to pass the direct cost of Paid Family Leave onto employers and taxpayers. There is growing concern the program’s costs will quickly exceed the employee payroll deductions imposed to fund it.

Workers’ Compensation Reformkey3

The Governor and Legislature agreed to significant reforms in 2017, the first such system reforms in a decade. State leaders must ensure the intent of the 2017 reforms is honored and the system lowers employer costs while maintaining fair protections for workers. Additional commonsense reforms should be routinely pursued to drive down costs and improve the system for all.

Lower Healthcare Costs 

Buffalo Niagara employers are committed to providing their employees with affordable healthcare, but the cost of doing so continues to climb. We support comprehensive access to coverage without imposing new regulations and fines on employers. The medical tort system must also be reformed to discourage defensive medicine, lower medical liability insurance rates and drive down costs for patients and employers.

Private sector development continues to reinvigorate downtown Buffalo and commercial corridors throughout the region. Most of these projects would not have been possible without public incentives necessary to counterbalance low rental rates locally and the high cost of construction in New York State. Critical to the economic success of the region are reforms to lower construction costs and strong, focused incentives aimed at encouraging sustainable development.

Prevailing Wage

  • Oppose expansion of prevailing wage mandate to private projects

Scaffold Law Reform

  • 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

The Cost of Scaffold Law:

  • Taxpayers – $785M/year
  • Private Business – $1.49B/year
  • NY’s general liability insurance costs are highest in the nation

Adaptive Reuse

  • Maintain and strengthen ECIDA’s existing Adaptive Reuse policy

Inclusionary Zoning

  • Oppose mandated Inclusionary Zoning on development projects in the City of Buffalo
Workforce Development

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. Success depends on our collective ability to invest in and support education and workforce development initiatives to build a qualified workforce with 21st century skills.

“Buffalo Niagara Labor Market Assessment 2017;” Report prepared for Invest Buffalo Niagara by UB Regional Institute; 2017

Pell Grant Programkey4

  • Support overdue 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

Community Colleges

  • Support the key role community colleges play in workforce development and best position them to be responsive to employers’ needs and the demands of regional labor markets

Local Workforce Investment Board (WIB)key2

  • Continue to target WIB resources for training programs
    matching regional priorities and targeted industry sectors,

    • Incumbent worker training
    • On the job training
  • Encourage city and county leaders to continue to appoint
    private sector employer representatives to local WIB

Professional Licensing for Immigrants

  • Create a professional licensing program for immigrants and refugees so their skills and training can positively contribute to the regional economy

The safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people is at the core of our economy. Government at all levels must be willing to prioritize critical long-term investments, as well as support private projects producing real economic benefit.

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 and job creation

Transportation Fundingkey4

  • 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

Telecommunications Network 

  • Support policies that encourage investment in network infrastructure to maintain and build upon the level of connectivity necessary to conduct business in today’s economy

Upgrade Power Grid

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

Buffalo Niagara is at the heart of a dynamic bi-national region. Our economy and many of its opportunities for growth are directly tied to Southern Ontario. Government policies should bind the United States and New York State closer to Canada, not create false barriers to trade, job creation and economic opportunity.


  • Strengthen our bi-national economy through the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement
    • Maximize border efficiency
    • Maintain visas necessary for cross-border business
    • Advance regulatory harmonization

Border Efficiency

  • Implement border efficiency measures to better move goods and people across Buffalo Niagara’s international border crossings, including:
    • Mandatory filing of e-manifests for empty trucks
    • Electronic or pre-payment of all fees
    • Sufficient staffing of customs agents in both Canada and the United States during the Peace Bridge Rehabilitation Project

Buffalo Niagara’s economy is well positioned to benefit from strategically investing tax dollars into two key sectors driving our economy – higher education (public and private) 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 good-paying jobs, additional tax revenue and sustainable economic development.

Higher Education Impactkey3

  • Increase operational support for the region’s SUNY institutions
  • Fully fund the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) without restrictions that would make it more difficult for students to qualify

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 2004, its budget would be over $5.7M today

Other Visiting Bureaus operating at over $5M:

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


1 – “2018 State Business Tax Climate Index;” Walczak, Drenkard & Bishop-Henchman; Tax Foundation; October 17, 2017

2 – Buffalo Niagara Partnership Advocacy & Member Survey; September 2017

3 – “Prevailing Waste: New York’s Costly Public Works Pay Mandate;” McMahon & Gardner; Empire Center for Public Policy; 2017

4 – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

5, 6 – “The Costs of Labor Law 240 on New York’s Economy and Public Infrastructure;” Hattery, Geddes & Kay; Rockefeller Institute; 2013

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

8 – “Erie County Industrial Development Agency: Adaptive Reuse Program 2008-2016;”
Redevelopment Resources; May 2017

9 – “Buffalo Niagara Labor Market Assessment 2017;” Report prepared for Invest Buffalo Niagara by UB Regional Institute; 2017

10 – “Power Trends: New York’s Evolving Electric Grid;” New York Independent System Operator; 2017

11, 12 – “State Imports for New York & State Exports from New York ;” Untied States Census Bureau

13 – “Opening Markets, Creating Jobs: Estimated U.S. Employment Effects of Trade with FTA Partners;” U.S. Chamber of Commerce; May 14, 2010; Date from 2008

14 – “Economic Impacts of State University of New York;” The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of
Government of the University at Albany & UB Regional Institute; June 2011

15 – The Commission on Independent Colleges & Universities in New York

16 – Visit Buffalo Niagara