Monthly Archives: January 2014

American Made Movie – Tonight

The local debut and screening of the American Made Movie, a new documentary, will take place at the Proctors GE Theatre in Schenectady tonight, Tuesday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m.  A panel discussion that features The Business Council’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky will take place after the movie.  Pokalsky will discuss manufacturing and jobs from a statewide perspective and discuss the Made in New York program.

Other panelists include U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko; Vice President for State Governmental Affairs Brian Lombardozzi with the Alliance for American Manufacturing; President Dr. Quintin Bullock of Schenectady County Community College; Senior Advisor, Marketing and Government Affairs Traute (Trudy) Lehner with SuperPower Inc.; and President Alessandro Gerbini of Gatherer’s Granola.

Tickets to the American Made Movie event are $5.00, available online at and at the Proctors box office. Proceeds from the event will benefit a one-time scholarship for a YouthBuild participant who will be pursuing a Manufacturing Technology program at Schenectady County Community College.

Arrive early for a Networking hour from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm where a dozen local manufacturers, sponsors and/or stakeholders will have table displays and information in the atrium of the GE Theatre.

For more information visit

Business action in Albany

Crain’s New York spoke to The Business Council’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky on Albany’s focus on improving the state’s poor business climate.

Among the issues discussed that The Business Council is advocating for include Governor Cuomo’s tax relief package that would provide $2 billion in tax cuts reducing the corporate franchise tax rate from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent and a 20 percent property-tax credit to manufacturers and slash estate taxes.

Pokalsky also highlighted The Business Council’s advocacy in reforming the state’s antiquated Scaffold Law that holds contractors and property owners entirely liable for gravity-related construction injuries, even if a worker is to blame. The Business Council supports the state adopting a comparative negligence standard. Pokalsky told Crain’s, “I think there’s enough data now about the harm this does to the state’s economy that there could be some movement this year.”

Among other advocacy issues, reforming the wage notification provision of the Wage Theft Prevention Act is also a priority for The Business Council. Visit The Business Council’s website for more information on The Business Council’s 2014 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda.

Read the full Crain’s article, “Business angles for Albany action” on Crain’s website.

Hidden health insurance taxes

The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans (NYSCOP) released an infographic highlighting the taxes and fees driving up the cost of health insurance titled, “A Taxing Look at Hidden Health Insurance Taxes.”

According to recent NYSCOP estimates, New Yorkers with private health coverage paid approximately $4.8 billion in state health insurance taxes in 2013. With employers paying most of the private health insurance premiums, the state tax on private coverage is nothing more than a “hidden” business tax. Among all business taxes levied by the state, when totaled, the taxes imposed on the privately insured would rank as New York’s single highest business tax.

Adding to the state tax burden are a number of new federal health insurance taxes. Beginning this year, as a result of three new taxes included in the federal Affordable Care Act, New York’s businesses and families will be required to pay an additional $1.7 billion, bringing the total health insurance tax bill to more than $6.5 billion. In 2015, the federal tax burden will increase by another $100 million.

The three federal taxes and their estimated costs are:


In addition, beginning in 2014 a risk adjustment user fee based on the number of enrollees will be levied. The annual cost of this fee is yet to be determined.  A federal excise tax (Cadillac tax) for high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage begins in 2018.

New York State’s small business owners already have 100 million reasons to be worried about next year’s increase in health insurance taxes. Now is not the time to add to their burden.

To view NYSCOP’s infographic, please click on the following link:

The Business Council’s Ken Pokalsky and Ernst and Young’s Robert Cline on impact of Cuomo tax cuts

Yesterday, the Time Warner Cable News show Capital Tonight interviewed Ken Pokalsky, The Business Council’s vice president of government affairs, and Robert Cline, of Ernst and Young, about the recently release Public Policy Study analyzing the impact of Governor Cuomo’s proposed tax changes.

The report looks at the business tax cuts proposed by the Governor and provides economic modeling that shows dropping the corporate franchise tax rate, reducing property tax credits by 20 percent, and merging articles 9 and 32 would produce 14,000 more jobs for New York by 2019 than it would see if there is no change in the law.

Pokalsky told host Nick Reisman that broad-based reforms coupled with reducing operating costs in highly productive sectors would lead to more jobs and better economy. Cline reiterated that it would make New York a more attractive place to do business.

Watch the full interview on the Time Warner Cable News website.  You will need a Time Warner Cable ID and password to access the video.

The full report is available on the Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. (PPI) website at or The Business Council of New York State, Inc. website at

PPI is a non-partisan, tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 organization. It does not accept public funds and depends on the support of corporations, foundations and the public.

Businesses fear job losses from paid-sick-day deal

An article in Crain’s New York today notes that business groups are concerned about job losses that will result from the expected announcement today from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito that would expand paid sick leave in New York City to include companies with as few as five employees.

Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a Business Council member told Crain’s, “We assume that the bill that he and the speaker have agreed on will extend the mandate to businesses with five or more employees. Our hope is that it is crafted to avoid unintended consequences, including undue hardship on small businesses that translate into reduction of jobs.”

The Business Council of New York state testified a hearing in New York City last year on this issue.  Read our full testimony on our website at

Public service commissioner on transmission line planning

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman sat down with The Poughkeepsie Journal’s editorial board earlier this week to discuss transmission line planning and highlighting the PSC will do “everything we can to avoid” eminent domain land seizures and to try to keep projects within existing rights-of-way.

The commission is currently accepting proposals to solve New York state’s grid problems. Final proposals are expected in 2015 and a decision would be expected a year or more after that.

She also said that Governor Cuomo’s State of the State comments urging an expedited review process for low-impact transmission projects were in line with the PSC’s vision and an amendment to the state’s transmission line siting law would be needed.

Watch the full video on the Poughkeepsie Journal’s website.


American Made Movie – January 21, 2014

The GE Theatre at Proctors in Schenectady will present the movie American Made Movie on Tuesday, January 21 and will feature a post-move panel discussion that includes The Business Council’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky as a panelist.  Pokalsky will provide a statewide perspective on this issue of American manufacturing and highlight our Made In New York program.

This compelling new documentary explores the impact of American manufacturing on both ordinary citizens and the national economy.  American manufacturing employment has been on the decline for decades, unleashing a devastating effect on our local and national economies. Fortunately, people are making a difference by doing their part in their local communities.  Be inspired by individual and corporate efforts highlighted in this new critically acclaimed documentary.

For more information on the event click here or purchase tickets online at

SEQR ranks high on Senate regulatory problem list

The State Environmental Quality Review process (SEQR) ranks high on the list of New York’s regulatory burdens in a recently released report from the Senate Majority.  A recent Empire Center blog post highlights how this supports the recent call to reform New York’s environmental planning review process.

The report, Streamlining SEQR, said SEQR “can be exploited to produce costly delays and uncertainty for the kind of job-creating projects New York desperately needs and identified needed reforms including the adoption of more concrete deadlines and a defined ‘scoping’ process to identify significant concerns with proposed developments.”

Read the full Empire Center blog post on their website or listen to Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council, and E.J. McMahon, president of The Empire Center, discuss the issue on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom.

In the interview, Pokalsky highlights The Business Council’s work on the issue over the years saying, “We are not asking to get rid of SEQR. We’re asking to make it work. We are not asking for changes in environmental standards but we are asking for a streamlining of the process.”

State funding for dairy farmers announced

Governor Cuomo recently announced nearly $21 million in funding to create new economic opportunities for New York’s dairy farmers by helping them to produce renewable energy and improve their business operations. The funding will help dairy farmers convert farm waste to energy and develop individualized business and environmental plans to reduce operating costs and increase profitability.

John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), said, “Farmers that utilize anaerobic digester technology are able to produce renewable energy and lower their costs while providing a number of environmental benefits to their local communities.”

Read more about the program here.

New York private sector employers recognized

The New York Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM) has announced the 60 winners of the 2014 Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards.

The 2014 Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards are presented by two major sponsors: Jackson Lewis, LLP and Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP), as well as five supporting sponsors: Acorda Therapeutics; Anchin, Block and Anchin LLP; DigitasLBi; MBMS, Inc. and WellnessRebates LLC. The program is a partnership of NYS-SHRM, The Business Council of New York State, Inc., Best Companies Group and Journal Multimedia Corporation.

Created in 2007, these celebrated annual awards are part of a distinctive program that evaluates and ranks the best places of employment in New York State. This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in New York, whose practices benefit the State’s businesses, economy, and workforce. The winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner on May 6 in Albany. A list of the 2014 winners may be found here.