The safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people is at the core of our economy. Government at all levels must be willing to prioritize critical long-term investments, as well as support private projects producing real economic benefit. Included in this is upgrading New York’s aging power grid and developing the state’s natural gas transmission system. Both priorities are a part of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s 2018 Advocacy Agenda.
Buffalo Niagara’s economic growth is being challenged by our inability to place qualified employees in existing job openings and develop a strong pipeline of trained workers for the job opportunities we know are on the horizon. In fact, in the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Member Pulse Report, our members identified difficulty in finding and retaining qualified talent as a top concern.
The recent population growth in the Buffalo Niagara region has largely been the result of immigrants and refugees. Tapping into the skills this population brings with them will help address our region’s growing workforce development struggles. That is why the Buffalo Niagara Partnership prioritized creating a state professional licensing program for immigrants and refugees as part of our 2018 Advocacy Agenda.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership detailed our state budget priorities in front of 200 people at our annual Legislative Luncheon. Our members and 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 Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal – specifically what we support, what we oppose and what we think is missing.
In December, Washington passed the much-debated Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which brought sweeping changes to the tax structure for individuals and companies in the United States. For many, this bill represented a potential turning point for the American economy.
Buffalo Niagara employers are committed to providing their employees with affordable healthcare, but the cost of doing so continues to climb. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership supports comprehensive access to coverage without imposing new regulations and fines on employers. Last year, 75% of Buffalo Niagara Partnership members who participated in our annual survey indicated that they experienced healthcare cost increases. That is why advocating for lower healthcare costs is one of the Partnership’s 2018 Advocacy Agenda priorities.
Higher education remains one of New York State’s most significant economic sectors. A strong percentage of that activity happens right here in Buffalo Niagara as our region is home to a robust offering of first-class public and independent colleges and universities. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership outlined our support for fully funding the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) in our 2018 Advocacy Agenda as one way to best position our economy to benefit from the impact of local higher education.
Buffalo Niagara employers operate in one of the most highly taxed and overly regulated economic environments anywhere in the country. The Tax Foundation once again ranked New York State has having the second worst business tax climate in the country. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership outlined our priorities for tax relief in our recently released 2018 Advocacy Agenda.
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal looks to close the state’s $4.4 billion deficit with a series of revenue actions – government speak for new taxes and fees. The majority of these new taxes fall on the healthcare industry, continuing New York State’s long history of taxing healthcare to pay for healthcare. This reliance on healthcare taxes is one of the main reasons New Yorkers pay some of the highest healthcare premiums in the country and why Buffalo Niagara employers identify healthcare costs as a growing pain point.