A record crowd at this year’s Legislative Lunch heard what the Buffalo Niagara Partnership does and does not want to see as a part of 2017-18 State Budget. Two-hundred people, including many members of the Western New York legislative delegation came together for lunch and conversation at the Marriott in Amherst. The Partnership detailed where we stand on the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal – specifically what we support, what we oppose and what we think is missing.
What We Support
The Partnership supports the proposed investments in Buffalo Niagara’s economy, including the Buffalo Billion2 and ridesharing in Upstate. The Buffalo Billion2 is an historic opportunity to fund critical initiatives and projects, and continue the economic momentum established under the original Buffalo Billion. The Partnership has been pushing for ridesharing all across New York for well over a year. This is a tourism issue, a safety issue and, most importantly, an issue of economic fairness for Upstate. We also support the Governor’s proposals for Clean Water Infrastructure spending and another round of NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant.
The Governor’s proposed budget also takes steps to lower costs for New York State employers, including the scheduled sunset to the 18-a Utility Tax which hurts manufacturers, the expansion of Design-Build which savings taxpayer dollars by lowering the costs of public construction projects and the expansion of the Workforce Training Credit.
What We Oppose
For all the good the proposed budget includes, it is hard to overlook the $800 million in new or extended taxes, fees, assessments and surcharges. This is not the way to say New York State is open for business. We also have serious concerns about the ‘Buy American’ procurement policy which flies in the face of our bi-national economy. While the intent of a policy mandating the state purchase American made products is admirable, there will be unintended consequences if this proposal becomes law. New York State companies with international supply chains may be disqualified from doing business with the state and we should anticipate a reprisal policy from Canada that would hurt local companies who do business with the Canadian government.
What’s missing from this budget proposal is commonsense reforms to improve the state’s business climate – chief among them, Workers’ Compensation reform. New York has the third highest Workers’ Compensation premiums in the country, up from 19th highest back in 2008. Click here to see the Workers’ Compensation Premium Ranking. The Partnership, along with other regional chambers and employer organizations throughout New York, is pushing a package of reforms targeting the cost drivers of Workers’ Compensation without compromising care for injured workers. We are encouraging members of the WNY legislative delegation to support these reforms and advocate for their inclusion in the Senate and Assembly’s budget proposals.
The Partnership will continue to keep you posted on the stats of our budget priorities as the Governor and State Legislature negotiate a final budget in the coming weeks. For a recap of where we stand on all the issues click here.