The past few weeks have been dominated by the formation of a new “Senate Majority Conference”. This unprecedented formal “marriage” between the Senate Republican Conference and the Independent Democratic Conference, on the surface, has the opportunity to put partisan bickering aside and be responsive to the needs of New Yorkers.
As a small business advocate, my initial thoughts turn to two important points which are separate, yet distinctly related. The first is the functionality of this new majority and the second is the agenda. The State Senate functioned at a high level the last two years and worked to provide a sensible balance between the needs of small business, taxpayers and labor. There was a commitment to reduce the financial burdens that have plagued New York for decades and to work with Governor Cuomo, who set out and has had some success, to open State imposed barriers and propel New York towards a new economic future. This is in stark contrast to 2009-10, when the spending resembled a runaway freight train to the economic abyss and chaos ensued regularly outside the Senate chamber. This new coalition needs to function as the Senate has the last two years. It needs to be sensible in its agenda and responsive to the significant structural cost drivers in this State.
Now, the 2013 legislative session is a few weeks off and politics in New York is full of nuanced twists and turns, but the agenda of this Senate Majority Conference, and to some degree the Governor, does have small business concerned right out of the gate. The issue of increasing the minimum wage is front and center on the agenda. The Governor has put increasing the minimum wage on his published “litmus test”, which his support of the new majority conference is based. As NFIB has shown recently, increasing the minimum wage will force small business to shed tens of thousands of jobs and put enormous fiscal pressure on them. In a state where unemployment is well above 8% and continuously ranks notoriously poor as an economically viable location for entrepreneurs, now is not the time to increase the minimum wage.
The agenda of the Senate Majority Conference, and of Governor Cuomo, should and must remain solely on helping New York’s small business to survive and flourish. To create an organic environment for economic development. To lessen the significant tax burden on New Yorkers. NFIB/NY has many ideas and will work with the Governor and any lawmaker to help turn our State around. Let’s us not turn back to the ill-fated ideas of 2009-10, but work together to continue on the encouraging path our State is on.