Mixed Bag for New York’s Small Businesses in 2012

While the legislature is still passing some bills, the 2012 legislative session is nearing the end.  Compared to recent years, it has been a rather ho-hum affair.  Now, in some ways this is not all bad, but really, for New York’s small businesses the work is far from complete and we really needed to see more substantive work done on mandate relief and regulatory reform.

Below is the statement I issued below on the conclusion of the legislative session.

“The positive pro-business dialogue in Albany was, unfortunately, derailed in the latter half of the 2012 session,” said NFIB/NY State Director Mike Durant. “When you look at the whole picture, entering into 2012 we were hoping for an extension of the positive changes that were made in 2011. Frankly after pension reform and the state fiscal plan were enacted, the conversation was quickly dominated by topics like raising the minimum wage, increases in workers’ compensation costs and toll increases.”
According to Durant, the victories for small businesses and taxpayers were too few and far between and while most of the anti-business legislation was defeated, confidence has diminished. 
“While we are pleased that the Senate Majority held firm against the push to raise the minimum wage, I am not convinced that this debate is closed,” said Durant. “The longer business owners are seeing headlines that describe the pending massive toll hikes and hear that lawmakers are debating minimum wage, the further the dialogue goes from where we were last year when the legislature and Governor were collaboratively working to open New York for business.”
Perhaps more disappointing, Durant said, was that many of NFIB/NY’s 2012 legislative priorities saw little action. 
“In December NFIB stated that Albany needed to fortify the legislative achievements of 2011 with substantial work in mandate relief and regulatory reform and that did not occur,” said Durant.  “This is not to say that there was a lack of significant conversation on these issues, the disappointment is that there was just little action in addressing these concerns of small business owners and taxpayers.
“The positive takeaway is that these issues are continuing to be discussed and the Governor and members of the legislature are taking a serious look,” he continued. “It is imperative that moving forward, especially for the immediate future, that action starts happening to lower the tax burden on New Yorkers and remove the barriers to economic development in this state.”
According to Durant, when you look at the entire body of legislative work over the last two years, a definite improvement was seen. 
“Without a doubt, Governor Cuomo and Majority Leader Skelos were committed to addressing New York’s high property taxes, energy costs and pension burden,” said Durant. “We are not willing to say New York is officially open for business because there is too much work to be done and, frankly, it isn’t. Moving forward, it is important that the Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly return the primary focus on ways to reduce costs on businesses, create jobs and provide fiscal flexibility for our communities and taxpayers. Those accomplishments will take a great leap in opening those doors for our State’s economic future” 
Durant said that small businesses in New York remain cautious about the state’s direction, but embrace the positive action so far.
“When you add it all up – two consecutive responsible state fiscal plans, the property tax cap, pension reform and the Senate Majority’s resistance to raising costs on business – the last two years have been better,” said Durant. “Small business owners would feel more comfortable if more was done the latter half of 2012, but have reasons to be cautiously optimistic that 2013 will see more significant improvements.”
For more information about NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com/newyork.
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About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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