Buffalo Niagara Partnership Speaks Out About Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Proposed Budget
Statement from Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
Buffalo, N.Y. – Today, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership released a statement which highlights key issues from Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget that are of key interest to the Partnership and its membership.
“The Buffalo Niagara Partnership takes great pride in the fact that the economic success underway in Buffalo Niagara was so prominently highlighted in the Governor’s 2015 proposed budget. As the Governor said, business is the engine that drives the state’s economic train, and the Partnership applauds the Governor’s initiatives to spur economic opportunity in other Upstate regions by aggressively supporting the business community,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
The Partnership is keeping an eye on several of the Governor’s proposals:
$1.5B for Upstate Investment – The Partnership knows first-hand the direct impact the ‘Buffalo Billion’ is having on our local economy. We support the Governor’s proposal to concentrate state resources on other struggling areas to our east with the goal of improving the overall economic vitality of Upstate New York. The work in Buffalo Niagara, however, is far from finished. We hope the Governor will continue to keep a focus on Western New York. New York State must remain a committed partner in the rebuilding of our region.
Property Tax Relief– We applaud the Governor’s commitment to making the 2 percent Property Tax Cap permanent. The cap has been critical to keeping local property taxes from climbing and controlling local spending. The Partnership has strong concerns that the Governor’s ‘circuit breaker’ program will shift the burden of high property taxes from residential taxpayers to commercial property owners. True property tax relief should be across the board and will be achieved when the Property Tax Cap is tied to meaningful mandate reform to address the true drivers of high property taxes.
Brownfield Cleanup Program – The Partnership is a leading voice in the fight for a long-term Brownfield Cleanup Program and we applaud the Governor for including one in his budget plan. This program has been a tremendous success locally – from local manufacturers expanding their plants, to rebuilding downtown Buffalo one building at a time. We are working to make sure the new restrictions in the Governor’s proposal, aimed at curbing abuse downstate, do not blunt the incredible impact the current program has had in Buffalo Niagara.
Infrastructure Investment – The Governor is smartly dedicating a large portion of the state’s recent settlement funds to address critical infrastructure needs across the state. The Partnership is disappointed that– at first pass – it appears most of that funding is earmarked for downstate. Like most of the state, Western New York’s roads, bridges, water treatment facilities and other vital infrastructure are in dire need of repair. The Partnership will be pushing for budget amendment to fund local priority projects. The Governor’s plan to use some of this funding to freeze Thruway tolls for one year is welcome news for drivers, but more needs to be done to address the systemic issues with the finances of the Thruway Authority.
Small Business Tax Reduction – Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we must do everything we can to encourage small business owners to invest in their business and hire additional employees. As designed, the Governor’s proposal for small business tax reduction will actually impact far too few small businesses to be effective, as most small business owners file personal income tax and are not corporate franchises. The Governor and Legislature need to work together the lower taxes for all small businesses, regardless of size.
Minimum Wage Hike – Small business tax relief is essential, especially in light of the Governor’s call to increase the state’s minimum wage again by the end of 2016. Buffalo Niagara employers are still realizing the effects of the most recent minimum wage increase.
Roswell Park Funding – The Governor’s proposed budget calls for a $15M reduction in funding for RPCI. The Partnership fully supports Roswell as a major regional employer and driver of growth at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. We continue to push the Governor and the State Legislature to maintain funding for Roswell or give it the flexibility it needs to control employee costs.
Education Reform – The Partnership endorses the Governor’s education reform proposals to ensure all New York students receive the education they need to succeed. There is no doubt the education of our children is directly tied to the economic development of our communities. We remain hopeful the Governor will apply this same aggressive and comprehensive approach to the long needed tax and regulatory reforms so critical to truly helping New York businesses grow and thrive.
The Partnership will continue to monitor the budget process closely and advocate for the needs of our members and the Western New York employer community.
ABOUT THE BUFFALO NIAGARA PARTNERSHIP
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is the region’s private sector economic development organization and regional chamber of commerce, representing nearly a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region. The Partnership’s work has three main focuses: advocacy, business development and convening. By mobilizing members and strategic partners around common goals, the Partnership grows private investment and jobs in Buffalo Niagara.