Date ArticleType
1/8/2018 Chamber News
State of the State a Mixed Bag for Business

Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State message offers some encouraging moves for the business community, and a few concerns as well.

One of our key concerns is around the proposal to move from an income tax system to a statewide payroll tax system.  It’s designed, obviously to reduce federal income taxes in the wake of the repeal of the full State and Local Income Tax (SALT) deduction. But it presents some apprehension as well.  Heather Bricetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, points out that it appears at face value as a new tax on businesses.

Bricetti said, “We have major concerns with a new payroll tax, and with increasing business taxes to offset reductions in federal taxes – especially Since New York’s 2014 corporate tax reform legislation, pushed by The Business Council and championed by Governor Cuomo, has finally made our business tax climate more competitive among the states. We believe that the prudent path is a comprehensive response to address our budget deficit and federal tax changes. New York must examine all major categories of state spending, including the largest - Medicare and education - and address other long-recognized cost drivers including Scaffold Law. As the Governor and the Legislature begin to tackle what will surely be a difficult budget season, we ask that they remember these simple words, ‘first, do no harm.’”

The other major concern we find with the Governor’s message is that New York State is facing a short-term deficit of $4-billion. While no one relishes cuts in programs, it is clear that our state lawmakers have a major undertaking this year to help close that gap as they work on a budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

At the same time, the Governor is moving to address a number of important initiatives designed to help our business community, especially in the realm of workforce development. His focus on encouraging collaborative partnerships among business and training institutions to address workforce needs expands on initiatives that several communities statewide have already been promoting, including our own Dream It Do It program in Western New York. Efforts to develop a more highly skilled workforce, as well as to focus on STEM, P-TECH and early childhood education are also welcome news.

For Chautauqua County as a whole, a plan to expand and encourage additional governmental shared services through financial incentives is a step in the right direction. Chautauqua County played a lead role over the past few years in these moves, and a stronger statewide directive is important.

We are encouraged that additional tourism promotion made the Governor’s to-do list, especially in the wake of a growing tourist industry here in Chautauqua County.  We are also pleased to see Chautauqua Lake on the priority list for attention through a $65-million plan to aggressively combat harmful algae blooms that threaten both drinking water and the recreational use of lakes all across the state.

As always, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these items as they move toward budget legislation in Albany, and will be advocating for all measures that boost business in New York State, and make our county a better place to live and work.

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