Speaker Silver Lacks Clear Understanding of New York Small Business Needs

A day after Speaker Sheldon Silver again called on an ill-advised raise in labor costs by 20 percent and doubled down on a call to kill off the enormous economic potential for natural gas development, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) questioned his understanding on New York’s significant economic problems.

“Frankly, the Speaker needs to spend some time in upstate New York” said NFIB New York Director Mike Durant.  “The policy positions he is insistent in championing are detrimental to small business, cut off new economic growth opportunities and continue the escalation of costs on business.”

The Speaker was in the news yesterday reiterating his push to increase the minimum wage aligned with the poison pill indexing the wage hike to inflation and called for further delay in the issuance of permits for the safe development of natural gas, an industry that has been a boon in Pennsylvania and in numerous other states across the country.

“He apparently wants to further put barriers in place for low and entry level workers and shut upstate New York off from the needed and lucrative potential that natural gas development presents .  That pretty much says all small business needs to know about the Speaker’s economic agenda,” said Durant.

The Governor and lawmakers are closing in on a carefully negotiated budget deal that could move New York forward.  Small business, the state’s leading aggregate employer, has been part of the conversation.  Silver’s outbursts yesterday, however, were alarming to small business owners whom the state needs to prosper, grow and hire.

“I hope for New York’s sake that the Governor and the other legislative leaders continue to focus on ways to move New York forward, rather than backward,” said Durant.  “Making it more expensive to create new jobs is a perfect way to guarantee fewer of them.”

“And the gas industry is the best opportunity that we’ve seen in a generation to improve the Upstate economy,” he continued.  “It would be senseless to smother that industry in its cradle even as thousands of Upstate families are desperate for that kind of opportunity.”

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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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