Once again this year, Albany lawmakers are seeking to impose prevailing wage on private construction projects receiving most forms of state or local financial support. And once again this year the Buffalo Niagara Partnership is helping fight back against this job-killing proposal.
The expansion of prevailing wage is an issue that has been widely debated in Albany for years. With the recent flip of the Senate Majority, the threat of mandated prevailing wage expansion has never been as serious as it is in 2019. The Partnership, along with the state’s leading business and industry groups, has been firmly opposed to this legislation in the past. The call to oppose the expansion of prevailing wage is an important part of our 2019 Advocacy Agenda.
Why we oppose the prevailing wage mandate
Most private development in Buffalo Niagara requires some form of public support to be financially viable. Given our oppressive tax environment, higher-than-average construction costs, and lower-than-average residential and commercial rents, some form of public incentive is necessary for most projects to pencil out.
The private investment and development helping spur Buffalo Niagara’s economic turnaround would not be possible without the use of brownfield and historic tax credits, IDA PILOT programs, affordable housing tax credits, and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency’s Adaptive Reuse program, to name a few. Mandating prevailing wage on private projects will drive up construction costs by 20 percent in our region, easily overtaking the value of any public incentive and bringing most private development to a standstill.
Several local projects in the pipeline are counting on public support to move forward. For example, the project at 201 Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo promises to infill a barren parking lot and build a vibrant, mixed-use development. The plan calls for the use of the Brownfield Cleanup Program and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help create more than 200 affordable one-and two-bedroom residential units, retail, offices, as well as bring a much-needed fresh food market back to downtown. Elmwood Crossing, a transformational redevelopment plan for the former Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, would also be threatened, halting the reactivation of a neighborhood with new affordable housing, townhomes, condos, a daycare, and a grocery store.
Ensuring that the voices of Upstate and WNY are heard
The Partnership recently spent two days in Albany meeting with dozens of legislators to share our opposition to prevailing wage expansion.
Dottie Gallagher, the Partnership’s President & CEO, delivered a strong message to legislators outlining the devastating impact this expansion would have primarily on Upstate New York. Gallagher described the reality that public support is critical to attracting the private investment required for the revitalization of our Upstate economy.
The Partnership was joined by other Unshackle Upstate partners, including the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Associated Builders and Contractors to make sure that the voices of Upstate and Western New York are heard.
New York State should be committed to furthering the revitalization of the economy in Upstate, not imposing unaffordable mandates that will drive development and private investment to other states that are truly open for business. Arbitrarily slapping an additional 20 percent cost increase on transformative projects in our region will force developers to simply walk away.
Here’s how you can help
Join the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in our efforts to fight the expansion of the prevailing wage mandate. Click below to use our online advocacy tool to tell your state elected representatives that New York State cannot afford the expansion of prevailing wage.