NFIB/NY Unveils 2014 Legislative Agenda

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today released an ambitious legislative session for next year that features tax and regulatory reforms to improve New York’s notoriously bad business climate and legal changes to eliminate predatory lawsuits.

“An unprecedented level of uncertainty pervades the business climate in New York which discourages growth and job creation,” said NFIB New York State Director Mike Durant.  “Key policy decisions in Albany and Washington, DC, will affect the sustainability of many small businesses in our state.  Our goal is to create a road map for the Governor and legislators that will lead to a more competitive environment for small businesses and wider prosperity for New Yorkers.”

The plan, entitled Renewing New York’s Economic Engine, calls for a series of tax initiatives that would reform New York’s suffocating tax system for which the state ranks near the bottom of national surveys.  It would:

  • Cut the corporate tax for small businesses
  • Reduce the personal income tax for small businesses
  • Reform the sales tax assessment process to match the impact with local economic conditions

“If you ask small business owners here and across the country to identify New York’s biggest drawback, the nearly unanimous answer is its punishing tax system,” said Durant.  “We can’t compete in the global economy as the most expensive place in America to create jobs.”

He emphasized that the so-called circuit breaker proposal that some in Albany are discussing now, which would link property taxes to income, would move New York in the wrong direction.

“A circuit breaker would utilize surplus state funds that would better be used to reduce taxes for individuals and small business,” said Durant.  “The circuit breaker does not reduce the sizable property tax burden; it is merely a politically simplistic shift.”

On the regulatory side, the NFIB plan would clear away or modernize some of the most burdensome and needless rules that create hassles for small businesses without serving much of a public purpose.

It would repeal the Wage Theft Act and the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act.  It would exempt small scale farm processors from building, zoning and permitting requirements and repeal a mindless $50 penalty on small businesses that file their sales taxes late when they don’t actually owe any sales taxes.

“We’ve identified more than a dozen regulations that are unimportant to the public but which create big headaches for small businesses,” said Durant.  “If the Legislature can’t agree to repeal these then they’re not really serious about improving New York’s business climate.”

At the top of the NFIB Tort Reform agenda is repealing the so-called Scaffold Law, which is a boon to trial lawyers at the expense of builders, manufacturers and other small businesses.

“New York is the only state in the country with a strict liability standard for gravity-related accidents,” said Durant.  “If a worker is injured in a fall, regardless of his contributory negligence, the employer gets dragged into court and the lawyers have a field day.

“Defending against a scaffold lawsuit, no matter how frivolous, is very difficult and very expensive and the outcome could destroy many businesses,” he continued.  “Everyone in Albany knows it’s a problem and every year they promise to do something about it until the trial lawyers circle the wagons.  Small business owners can’t accept the status quo anymore.  We expect action this year.”

New York ranks at the very bottom of national surveys that measure business competitiveness and among small business owners its reputation is abysmally low.  It’s a negative image that took decades to create and it can’t be changed with rhetoric, half measures and fancy advertising campaigns, said Durant.

“Improving our economy takes real work,” he said.  “We’ve made some modest progress in recent years but we’ve dug for ourselves a very deep hole and it’s time that the Governor and the Legislature to serious.”

For more information about NFIB please visit www.nfib.com.

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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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