Chamber continues fight for tax reform

On Jan. 3 of this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State address. 

As opposed to last year, he did it in the traditional manner by having it at one site and at one time, in the New York State Convention Center.

This event is where the Governor, without great detail, lays out the fiscal condition of New York, while also presenting an overview of his vision for the upcoming year, including some initiatives he will advocate for. Most of the post-speech reviews dubbed it a very political speech, with many stating it may have been his announcement of a presidential run in 2020.

Considering so much of the speech was devoted to criticism of federal policies, particularly the new federal tax bill, and the last slide in his presentation was a picture of the oval office, I can understand that assessment of the speech.

Then on Jan. 16, the Governor laid out the Executive Budget in his official budget presentation. With both the State of the State, and his budget address, one dire fact was made very clear, and that was that the state will be starting out the year with a $4.5 billion deficit.  Although the entire budget is $153 billion, that is still a huge shortfall.

On Jan. 22 and 23, I attended the Chamber Alliance of New York State’s (CANYS) winter conference in Albany.

At this event, CANYS partners with the Business Council of New York State and listens to several presentations regarding state issues, including one from the Governor’s Budget Office, and a different perspective from E. J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy, an independent think tank, regarding the details of the budget and its ramifications for New York businesses and residents, and as usual their opinions varied widely.


One thing the Governor has focused on for several months is the federal tax reform and the provision that New York residents will no longer be able to deduct any state tax or property taxes over $10,000. Although the immediate effect may be less upstate than it is downstate, the future consequences could be disastrous for everyone.

Higher income residents from downstate and Long Island, where property taxes on average are higher than they are here, could start to exit the state, leaving a budget gap that needs to be filled by those who remain. The Governor’s office is looking at fixes to this, including finding ways residents can “donate” their local taxes and/or a payroll tax that my make business owners shoulder the burden.

In its efforts to close its budget gap,

I’m sure there will be a move to increase fees and create more costly regulation. Being discussed now are initiatives such as predictive scheduling for employees and eliminating the minimum wage tip credit, both touted as social justice moves, yet steps that even employees to not want to see happen. I will write more about these issues, as well as about the Chamber’s legislative agenda items in future columns.

This will be a very challenging year, but the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, as the region’s leading advocate for our businesses, will continue to fight tax reform and the policies that so often cripple our businesses in their efforts to prosper.


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