In putting together our annual Advocacy Agenda, we survey our membership to gauge their pain points and areas of concern. Each year, our members continue to identify high taxes and escalating labor costs as their largest barriers to success. Those results are not surprising. Buffalo Niagara employers operate in one of the most highly taxes and overly regulated economic environments anywhere in the country.
To bend that curve, the Partnership advocates aggressively each year for common sense reforms to help lower taxes and control labor costs – allowing employers to invest back into their business to create jobs and economic opportunity. The Partnership’s 2017 Advocacy Agenda contains five policy priorities aimed at achieving that goal.
According to the Tax Foundation, New York State has the 49th worst business tax climate in the nation (State Business Tax Climate). Based on income, property, sales and unemployment insurance tax rates, this study is a black eye for New York and speaks to the central reason why we continue to struggle economically, especially in Upstate New York. The Partnership continues to advocate for New York State to more aggressively lower personal income tax rates and take steps to protect the existing Property Tax Cap which has been proven effective at controlling the growth of local property taxes. At the federal level, the Partnership calls on the President and Congress to lower business tax rates which are currently the highest in the industrial world.
- Lower Healthcare Costs
Being able to affordably provide healthcare to their employees remains a top concern for Buffalo Niagara employers. There remains a great deal of uncertainty in the healthcare arena over the future of the Affordable Care Act and what its possible replacement will mean for employers. Despite the uncertainty, the Partnership continues to push for comprehensive access to affordable health insurance without placing additional burden on employers.
- Prevailing Wage
The Partnership opposes expansion of the prevailing wage mandate to any public or private project. There have been efforts in Albany in recent years to dramatically expand the number of construction projects subject to the existing prevailing wage mandate. We will continue to work with our allies throughout the state to fight this proposal which will drastically increase construction costs and, as a result, stymie development in Upstate.
New York State has the third highest Workers’ Compensation premiums in the country (Workers’ Compensation Costs). The state continues to trend in the wrong direction and many employers are experiencing regular double digit increases. The Partnership supports reforming Schedule Loss of Use guidelines and shortening timelines for Maximum Medical Improvement. Both of these reforms are aimed at bringing down costs without compromising care.
- 18-a Utility Tax
This state imposed utility tax is scheduled to sunset in 2017 and the Partnership will be working to make sure it stays that way. The tax was added several years ago to help fill a budget gap and it hits high demand energy users like manufacturers right in the wallet at a time when we should be encouraging manufacturing in New York. The Partnership will also be on guard against attempts to replace 18-a with another tax that unfairly targets manufacturers.
For more information on where the Partnership stands on tax and labor costs issues visit our full 2017 Advocacy Agenda.