The wait is over. The Governor and the State Legislature finalized the 2017-18 State Budget over a week late, but the final package includes several wins for employers and regional economic development and crosses off a few items on our 2017 Advocacy Agenda.
This budget cycle, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership worked closely with several employer organizations to advocate aggressively for much needed reforms to the state’s Workers’ Compensation system. While we did not get everything we had hoped for, the reforms we achieved will create meaningful savings for all employers – private and public – in New York. The major reforms include:
- Ensuring classification of Maximum Medical Improvement within 2.5 years from date of injury. Currently, this classification process can take close to seven years to achieve, drawing out timelines for employees and driving up costs for employers.
- Mandating the development and release of new Medical Impairment Guidelines for adoption by January 2018. The current guidelines – used to determine certain awards within the Workers’ Compensation system – are severely outdated and fail to reflect current medical outcomes and modern treatment options.
I want to thank the leadership of the NYS Senate and our local members of the Senate Republican Conference for fighting very hard with us for commonsense Workers’ Comp reform. This fight is far from over though. New York currently has the third highest Workers’ Comp premiums in the country and more must be done to reduce program costs while providing the care and compensation injured workers deserve.
The State Budget also includes an agreement to bring ridesharing to all of New York after much talk and unnecessary delay. Upstate residents and tourists will now finally have the same access to reliable and convenient transportation options available in Downstate and most every part of the country. Bringing ridesharing to Buffalo Niagara has always been a matter of job creation, road safety and economic fairness for Upstate.
The Governor’s Buffalo Billion2 is fully funded as part of the 2017-18 State Budget. This funding will continue the undeniable momentum created under the original Buffalo Billion and provide strategic investment throughout our region for several key projects and initiatives. The budget also includes $2.5B for water and sewer infrastructure spending all across the state. While surface transportation receives a lot of understandable attention, our water infrastructure is critical to economic development and often in desperate need of investment.
While the Partnership achieved several of its priorities in this year’s State Budget, we should not lose focus on the true state of business in New York. We remain one of the most taxed and overly regulated states in the country and our economy continues to pay the price