More than 750 people including Legislators, business leaders, chamber executives and community leaders attended The Business Council’s Annual Legislators’ Reception in Albany. The Business Council rolled out its 2014 Legislative Agenda.
A new feature of the event, The Business Council’s first Small, Minority and Woman-owned Business reception attracted more than 100 MWBE owners from across the state and provided them with an opportunity to network with Business Council members representing a broad cross section of the state’s business community.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo paid a visit to The Business Council’s Board of Directors meeting. He reviewed his executive budget proposal, thanked The Business Council for its participation in the Pataki-McCall tax commission as well as for its support of Casino Gaming referendum approved by voters last November. During his 45-minute session, the Governor also fielded questions from Board Members on a range of issues from taxes and energy to education and economic development.
The Governor’s visit, and the visits by key members of his staff that have occurred at recent Board meetings, are further evidence of the strength of The Business Council’s voice as the leading advocate for business in the state.
Capital Tonight’s Nick Reisman caught up with the Governor after the meeting and you can read his post on the State of Politics blog here.
Chief executive officers across the state showed some optimism about the economy, but had little good to say about the business climate in the state or about government’s ability to improve it. The Siena Research Institute surveyed upstate business leaders in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo between October and December of last year.
The majority (46 percent) said current economic conditions are about the same as last year, while 24 percent said conditions are a little better and 22 percent said conditions are a little worse. Looking ahead to next year, 40 percent think conditions will be about the same as they are now, while 28 percent expect improvement and 24 percent think things will be a little worse.
Neither educators nor government officials will find much comfort in what the business leaders said. While 51 percent said they can find trained workers in their local area, 44 percent said finding qualified workers is a problem. And when it comes to the state’s ability to improve the business climate, 48 percent were not very confident, 15 percent were somewhat confident and 37 percent were not confident at all.
The entire survey and the region-by-region breakdown of the results can be found here, courtesy of the Albany Times Union’s Eric Anderson.
Newsday columnist Dan Janison is noticing a different approach and message in a radio “issue ad” supporting Scaffold Law reform. He describes the appeal to the Governor and Legislature for repeal of the law as “honey rather than vinegar.”
Janison writes, “The car radio is tuned to a news station and you hear a male voice launch into a commercial.
‘”Governor Cuomo is helping lead New York in the right direction,” the narrator exclaims, “working to create jobs and cut taxes, making New York more competitive.”
“Oh, but wait. The ad’s narrator is changing course.
‘”We need more reforms,” he says next. “Like changing the outdated scaffold law. Our unfair scaffold law drives up property taxes and rent for every New Yorker. Because of the scaffold law, the cost of public projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge and local schools is skyrocketing.”
“It is striking to hear explicit praise for a re-election-seeking incumbent as a preface to a so-called issue ad. It sounds starkly different from the 1199/SEIU attack ads against health care cuts in 2007 that helped drive down then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s approval ratings.”
You can read the entire column here.
Albany Business Review staff writer Krystle S. Morey takes a look at an issue that is on the legislative agendas of most business groups in the state, including The Business Council, but that is not part of the agenda laid out this month in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State or Executive Budget message—repeal of a notification provision in the Wage Theft Prevention Act that costs employers $50 million a year. Morey writes, “Employers are reallocating time, money and staff resources in order to comply with the act, which went into effect in April 2011.”
You can read the entire article here.
While most media attention on the education portion of Governor Cuomo’s executive budget has been on funding universal pre-k and state aid to local school districts, Albany Business Review reporter Megan Rogers has detailed a proposal to waive tuition at a SUNY or CUNY campus for the top ten percent of high school seniors who study science, math or technology and agree to work in-state for five years.
The executive budget sets aside $8 million for the plan.
You can read the entire story here.
In his executive budget released on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo said he expects commercial casinos to be open and operating as early as 2015. Writing in the Albany Times Union, reporter James Odato says a fast track such as the governor proposes would favor existing “racinos” such as Saratoga Gaming and Raceway and Tioga Downs.
Odato interviewed several analysts within the gaming industry and outside of it who said if the governor expects a casino to be open early next year, existing facilities seeking casino licenses would have the advantage in getting one of the four upstate licenses.
You can read the entire Times Union story here.
The Business Council of New York State participated in and supported a screening of a new independent film American Made Movie on Tuesday, January 21 at the GE Theater at Proctors in Schenectady. The film focuses on manufacturing, job creation, consumerism and economic recovery in the United States.
Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council, participated in a panel discussion following the screening of the film, attended by approximately 400 people. Other panelists included U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko; Brian Lombardozzi, vice president for state governmental affairs of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; Dr. Quintin Bullock president of Schenectady County Community College; senior advisor, marketing and government affairs Traute (Trudy) Lehner of SuperPower Inc.; and President Alessandro Gerbini of Gatherer’s Granola.
“The benefits of a strong manufacturing sector cannot be understated; the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly 9 percent of total employment in the United States and supports additional jobs and economic activity. When $1 is spent in manufacturing it also generates $1.35 in additional economic activity. Our nation should be doubling down on investments in manufacturing and workforce training,” Congressman Tonko said.
Pokalsky cited the loss of manufacturing jobs upstate as a significant factor holding back middle class wages. “These manufacturing jobs pay roughly $17,000 per year than other jobs requiring similar skills and over the past 30 years New York has lost thousands of those jobs.
Pokalsky cited tax cuts aimed at stimulating in-state manufacturing included in Governor Cuomo’s executive budget as an example of state policy that would support upstate manufacturers and create manufacturing jobs.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in April once again holds the growth in state spending below 2 percent. Under the plan, growth in state operating funds spending would be held to 1.7 percent. Growth in “all funds” spending, which includes federal dollars that flow to the state, would be held to just 1.3 percent — excluding “extraordinary” federal aid related to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and recovery from Superstorm Sandy.
The budget includes cuts in spending for a number of state agencies: 11.2 percent or $519 million for the Department of Health (excluding Medicaid); 9.5 percent or $6 million at the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General; 13.4 percent or $35 million at the Department of Labor.
The budget reflects the tax reforms and reductions originally proposed in the Pataki-McCall tax commission—of which Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council was a member—including a more rapid phase out of the 18-A energy assessment and the elimination of the assessment on industries.
Commenting on the executive budget, Ms. Briccetti said:
“The Business Council of New York State applauds the Governor’s continued commitment to improve the state’s business climate as demonstrated in his executive budget. There is much for business to be encouraged about with the emphasis on holding growth in overall state spending to under 2 percent while promoting private sector investments and job creation, and increasing in-state personal income, through broad-based business tax relief.
“Specific business tax reductions in the Governor’s tax package will have significant multiplier effects throughout the state’s economy, and will support more than 14,000 new jobs by 2019, and almost 18,000 new jobs by 2024, as noted in a recent Public Policy Institute report prepared by state tax experts at Ernst and Young.
“The Business Council looks forward to working with The Governor and Legislature to make tax relief and the removal of regulatory business barriers a reality for New York in this legislative session.”
Governor Cuomo will deliver the 2014 Budget Address in the Hart Theatre at the Egg Center for Performing Arts in Albany, N.Y. today at 2:00 p.m. Watch the live webcast online or tune into your local PBS station or New York Public Radio station.
The Business Council expects the budget to include the Governor’s recently announced tax relief plan that will cut taxes for business in New York state. Find Fix New York: The Business Council 2014 Legislative & Regulatory Agenda online.