Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bank tax reform will benefit New York

Last week a flurry of special interests took to the airwaves spreading misinformation about the business tax reforms proposed in the Executive Budget. Among the misinformation: that business tax reform, including bank tax reform, would significantly limit spending in the new state budget and that repealing the bank tax would only serve to pad the pockets of Wall Street. The truth is, business tax reform along with the other energy and estate tax reforms proposed in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget will help create much needed, good paying jobs in New York state and creating a more attractive business climate will help expand the middle class.

By merging the bank tax with the broader corporate franchise tax, companies will benefit from a simpler tax compliance structure. Imposing separate bank and corporate taxes somewhat unique to New York state, as the majority of other states, and the federal government, do not impose separate taxes. Easier compliance, in addition to eliminating provisions that currently penalize banks for keeping jobs and resources in New York, something that already exists for the general business community means New York will see a greater investment in jobs and the economy.

Creating this opportunity in New York needs to be a priority for the state and legislators in Albany. The banking sector may be improving, or even “doing well,” but New York’s share of U.S. employment in the financial sector has fallen since 1990. Banking jobs nation-wide have increased by 200,000 but New York’s share of those jobs has declined by 100,000.

The majority of the business tax reforms proposed in the Executive Budget have little or no impact on the FY 2015 spending plan now under negotiation, in fact, the bank tax would contribute to the budget in FY 2015 and the corporate franchise tax is actually projected to generate about $70 million more in more revenues in FY 2015. Even with the Governor’s proposed tax reform package, state spending is projected to grow by $8 billion in just three years while state tax-funded spending will grow by $5 billion.

Sustainable spending growth and reducing taxes to create economic growth, good jobs and strong communities needs to be a priority for New York

The Business Council supports the Governor’s budget proposal, including its broad based tax reforms, because it is part of a workable, sustainable long term spending plan for New York State.

ReCharge NY Program at Harden Furniture

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Business Council members, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Harden Furniture, joined together with state and local officials to recognize the success of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ReCharge New York (RNY) power program in the Mohawk Valley Region.

The retention and creation of 262 jobs at the 170-year old Harden Furniture company in Oneida County garnered the support of key state and local officials who worked together under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ReCharge New York program to support the company’s expansion. Celebrating the announcement at Harden’s McConnellsville saw mill and manufacturing plant recently were NYS Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush; Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente; NYS Senator Joseph A. Griffo (pictured above, standing left to right); Ken Tompkins with Empire State Development; Onondaga County Executive and NYPA Trustee Joanie Mahoney; NYPA president and CEO Gil C. Quiniones; and Harden Furniture President Greg Harden (pictured above, seated left to right).  In addition to the jobs, under the terms of the ReCharge New York deal, Harden will invest up $4 million in its operations in exchange for 1.38 megawatts (MW) of ReCharge New York power, a NYPA-administered program.

The event showcased Harden Furniture as an example of how Mohawk Valley companies are saving money under RNY and reinvesting those funds in protecting jobs, and anchoring and growing their businesses. A total of 60 businesses in the Mohawk Valley region and 3 not-for profit enterprises are benefiting from RNY allocations in return for their retention and creation of nearly 14,000 jobs.

Greg Harden, president Harden Furniture, said, “Like many businesses in New York, Harden Furniture was hard hit by the national economic downturn in 2008. We recognized that we had to restructure our business model if we were to survive and continue to provide over 200 families with good paying jobs. But we couldn’t do it without state government partners that understood the challenges faced by the business community. The ReCharge New York program, and the Governor’s insistence upon innovative economic development solutions, has reinvigorated our optimism for the future of Harden Furniture, its employees and the families in the Mohawk Valley.”

Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO, NYPA said, “With its focus on quality and sustainability, Harden Furniture is representative of some of the best qualities that New York State has to offer. Governor Cuomo’s Recharge New York program is ensuring Harden, a venerable family-owned business, remains a vital part of the Mohawk Valley economy in the years ahead.”

Governor Cuomo launched the RNY power program to help businesses and other entities lower their operating costs and spur economic development. The program offers up to seven-year contracts for lower-cost power.

The Rome Sentinel featured the event in an article, Low-cost power key to Harden growth.

Small Business Day

The Business Council advocated for New York’s small businesses last week at Small Business Day in Albany. Approximately 100 participants representing small businesses, trade associations and chambers of commerce attended the event organized by Business Council member the National Federation of Independent Business. The agenda included a ten-point agenda including repealing the wage notification portion of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, mandate relief, reforming New York’s Scaffold Law, out-of-network coverage, the 18-a energy tax, the manufacturers’ credit and paid sick leave.

“Small business day focuses on how small employers are challenged by New York’s tax and regulatory climate,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “Eighty percent of our 2,400 members have fewer than 100 employees, so we welcome this opportunity to share their concerns and help push for measures that make New York’s small business climate more conducive to growth.”

“Small Business Day not only recognizes the importance of main street businesses, but also serves as a critical reminder to lawmakers of the complex issues they face. From tax relief to sensible regulatory reform measures, our agenda is essential to the sustainability of New York’s small business owners.  This collective effort should serve as a reminder to lawmakers that small business is the backbone of New York’s economic present and future,” said Mike Durant, state director, NFIB/NY.

Other Business Council members also spoke out on the importance of Small Business Day, including the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors (AGC), the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Chamber of Schenectady County, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, Manufacturers Association of Central New York, New York Farm Bureau, New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association, North Country Chamber of Commerce, and the Rochester Business Alliance.

Visit NFIB’s website for more on Small Business Day.

Pay For Success finalists announced

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced finalists selected for the Pay for Success program — also known as “Social Impact Bonds” — designed to transform how government does business while serving vulnerable New Yorkers and providing additional resources for innovative social services programs.

Among the finalists selected was Business Council member Hillside Family of Agencies. Hillside Family of Agencies’ Intensive Community Asset Program (I-CAP) provides diversion alternatives to probation officers and family court judges for placement and detention of high-risk youth. The proposal plans to serve approximately 835 youth in Onondaga, Monroe and up to three additional counties.

Pay for Success projects are public-private partnerships where the state sets performance goals and private and philanthropic investors provide the funds for the program. The state repays investors based on the program’s performance, and only makes payments if the goals are achieved.

The 2013-14 New York state budget authorized the state to undertake Pay for Success initiatives in health care, child welfare, early childhood development and public safety. The I-CAP contract is among the first Pay for Success contracts in New York exclusively serving Upstate New York and focused on at-risk youth.

Time Warner Cable News interview with Business Council President on Common Core

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Business Council President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. appeared on the Time Warner Cable News show Capital Tonight last night to talk about workforce readiness and Common Core in light of the Governor’s Common Core Panel issuing its report, and Legislature’s vote to fill four seats on the Board of Regents.

President Briccetti highlighted that it is important to separate Common Core standards from issues with implementation.  She reiterated The Business Council’s support for higher standards and said that going back to standards that are insufficient is not the answer, as only 35 percent of high school graduates are college or career ready.

She also highlighted that there is a difference between slowing down implementation and the conversation surrounding how tests are used,  and that we should not back away from higher standards because the process is challenging.

“The reason for it is to ensure that when a student graduates, that we can all as parents, and employers, have confidence that that a diploma means something.  If we back away from raising those standards then we are going to go back to situation where we already know we are failing 65 percent of those graduates,” said Briccetti.

Watch the interview with Business Council President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. on the Time Warner Cable news website (TWCID required).

President Briccetti also appeared on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom last week discussing the issue of Common Core as well as P-TECH initiatives; listen to the interview on WCNY’s website (starts at 23:18).

Funding awarded for NY-BEST companies

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced funding awarded to companies working on new technologies in battery and energy storage. Business Council members Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Finch Paper and Con Edison were included in the announcement.

Funding is provided through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) Consortium Bench-to-Prototype solicitation.

NY-BEST is an industry-focused coalition working to establish New York as a global leader in energy storage technology for heavy-duty transportation, electric grid and other storage applications. NY-BEST was created in 2010 with a $25 million grant from state government to position New York state as a global leader in energy storage technology, including applications in grid storage and heavy-duty transportation.

Eligible technologies include energy storage technologies that utilize electrical or electrochemical processes and include batteries, ultracapacitors, fuel cells and related components that integrate these technologies into complete systems. This is the third of six rounds of NYSERDA funding to help members of NY-BEST move promising technologies toward commercialization.

Read more on this round of funding on Governor Cuomo’s website. For more information on the next funding round, with proposals due April 7, click here.

 

Business Council Supports Funding New York’s Tourism Industry

The Business Council of New York State joined more than 200 tourism industry professionals in Albany for the Tourism Industry Coalition’s Tourism Action Day on Tuesday, March 4, supporting sustained and increased funding for New York State’s travel and tourism industries.

“New York has made great gains the past few years in supporting and investing in the state’s tourism industry,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “Connecting tourists with the best New York has to offer is a wise investment, boosting our economy and creating jobs. The Council supports the state sustaining its investment in tourism related programs.”

The Business Council supports continued funding for the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils, funding for the state to host more tourism related summits and initiatives that create private sector investment and job creation. The Executive Budget includes funding for Market-NY at $5 million; Taste-NY at $1.1 million, I Love NY at $2.5 million; and the county matching funds program at approximately $3.8 million for FY2014-15.

The Business Council also supports the continued funding of the Wine and Grape Foundation appropriated at $713,000, for FY2014-15 and the state’s continued investment in the Regional Economic Development Councils, Open for Business and NY Works, which was estimated at $60 million in 2013.

The Business Council members attending or being represented at Tourism Action Day included: Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, American Express, BBL Hospitality, Destiny USA, Inns of Aurora, LLC, The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, Empire Resorts, Inc., Fox Run Vineyards, Inc., Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, IN New York & Where magazines, The Lodge at Welch Allyn, New York Power Authority, Niagara Honeymoon Sweets, New York Wine & Culinary Center, New York Wine & Grape Foundation,  Palace Theatre, Plattsburgh Chamber of Commerce, The Sagamore, Saratoga Casino & Raceway, Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau, Tri-City Valley Cats, VisitRochester, and the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism.

The Business Council supports the level of funding appropriated to the tourism industry in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget and encourages the New York State Legislature to approve this level of funding.

For more information on The Business Council’s support of the Travel and Tourism industry, visit www.bcnys.org.

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Small Business Day on March 12

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, The Business Council will join with other business groups to advocate for policies that will impact the future of New York business. Join us to:

  • Meet with lawmakers to voice your concerns.
  • Learn about the business community’s legislative priorities.
  • Discuss issues affecting related industries from across the state including: Scaffold Law Reform, Wage Theft Prevention Act Reform, Heathcare, and Paid Sick Leave.
  • Network with other business owners.
  • Make your voice heard.

Find more information and a schedule of events on NFIB’s website.

Keynote Speakers include Alphonso David, deputy secretary for the Labor and Civil Rights, Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo and E.J. McMahon, director and founder of The Empire Center for Public Policy.

Registration is required. To register email Erin DeSantis at NFIB, erin.desantis@nfib.org.

Editorial support for Scaffold Law reform grows

The Schenectady, N.Y. Daily Gazette is urging reform of New York’s antiquated Scaffold Law during the current legislative session. The Gazette is the latest newspaper around the state to voice its support for reforming the statute that dates back to the 1880s. The editorial covers how the law holds property owners and contractors, “strictly liable even when a worker’s own negligence, or drinking, or criminal behavior, caused his injury in a fall from a scaffold or ladder.” Others include Crain’s New York Business and the Buffalo News.

The Gazette notes that “government has taken major steps to prevent accidents and deal with their aftermath, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and federal workers’ compensation insurance.”

The editorial also highlights how the law is costly. A new study by the University at Albany and Cornell University finds that it diverts at least $785 million of public money each year from schools and local government toward lawsuits, legal costs and insurance. The law also the private sector just under $1.5 billion a year — all while increasing workplace accidents by 677 annually.

The Business Council continues to advocate for Scaffold Law reform. Find more on this in The Council’s 2014 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda and www.bcnys.org. The Council support proposals that would apportion negligence among all parties in cases where the injured worker’s conduct contributed to the accident, as a bill introduced in both the Senate and Assembly calls for. That’s how it is done in other states, and how it should be done in New York.

Take action today and tell your legislator to reform New York’s Scaffold Law.

AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge

Business Council member AT&T recently announced the Rochester Civic App Challenge, collaborating with Business Council member the Rochester Institute of Technology and other Rochester technology companies, a two-month contest for creating smartphone apps that will serve the community.

The challenge runs until April 23 and encourages the local tech community to build and deliver apps and services that serve community needs, connect and engage citizens with their governments and demonstrate how mobile technologies can lead to the next generation of tech jobs and investment.

AT&T chose Rochester to kick-off a series of three high-profile Upstate New York mobile app challenges in recognition of the leading role the community has historically played as New York’s innovation leader and center for technology jobs and commerce.

AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge Logo

“AT&T’s commitment to Rochester’s tech sector grows out of our company’s multibillion dollar nationwide investment in the mobile communications network of the future,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “By encouraging Rochester students and career technologists to explore smart phone software development we are spotlighting the enormous demand for developers and engineers needed to create the software that will drive our mobile economy.”

“We are pleased to host this challenge, which will allow us to showcase the innovative spirit that infuses the MAGIC Center,” said RIT MAGIC Center Director Andrew Phelps. “We created MAGIC to support turning ideas into marketable products. The apps that will be created during this challenge reflect well on our mission.”

Participants can register or get more information on the AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge at http://attroc.hackupstate.com/. The challenge will award first, second and third prizes – as well as honorable mentions — in two categories with top winners will receiving prizes totaling $18,000. Winners will be announced in May and the public can follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag #ATTROC.

 

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