The 2017 New York State Legislative session ended with little legislating, and that is not a bad thing for Buffalo Niagara employers. Compared to the busy and extended budget negotiations earlier this year, the end of session seemed sedate (As I write this, Governor Cuomo has called the Legislature back to Albany to address a few outstanding issues, chief among them mayoral control of New York City schools). Here are the highlights:
Ridesharing Comes Early
Ridesharing officially begins in all of New York State on June 29th, 10 days earlier than originally outlined in the State Budget. An early supporter of ridesharing, the Partnership was pleased to support the effort to launch the service prior to the July 4th holiday weekend. The legislation to move up the start date was sponsored by Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, a member of the Western New York delegation.
Blocking Prevailing Wage Expansion
Once again this year, several attempts were made to expand the state’s prevailing wage law. One bill (S.2975/A.5498) would mandate prevailing wage on private projects that receive any amount of public support from state or local economic development entities including IDAs. If passed, this legislation would absolutely stop private sector development and investment in its tracks throughout Upstate. Another bill (S. 6576/A.8071) would impose prevailing wage on the off-site custom fabrication of components of a public works project including woodwork, cabinets/counters, and duct systems. This legislation would only add to the already hefty price tag of public works projects in New York.
A recent study by the Empire Center outlines how the prevailing wage law increases construction costs by 13 to 25 percent depending on the region of New York. In the Buffalo area, the study estimates prevailing wage increases construction costs by 20 percent. These inflated project costs mean two things – fewer projects and higher taxes, and in the process help cement New York’s deserved reputation as one of the highest taxed and uncompetitive places to live and own a business.
Protecting Cross-Border Supply Chains
In the final hours of session, lawmakers did enact a ‘Buy American Act’ (S.6639-A/A.8427-A) requiring that all structural steel and iron used on state road and bridge projects valued at $1 million or more be produced in the United States. This legislation should not significantly impact Buffalo Niagara companies sourcing steel and iron from Canada because it closely resembles existing law. The Partnership advocated strongly against the ‘Buy American Act’ outlined in the Governor’s proposed budget earlier this year. That plan jeopardized existing bi-national supply chains and undermined our cross-border economy by establishing a preference for US manufactured products in all state and public authority contracts/procurements over $100,000.