There they were – the business community and members of the State Legislature from both parties coming together to back one of the governor’s proposals. This welcome display of bipartisanship on business tax relief bodes well for its future.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has managed to garner support from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and from five state lawmakers who represent both sides of the aisle. There were Democratic Assemblymen Sean Ryan, Robin Schimminger and Michael Kearns standing with State Sen. Mark Grisanti and, notably, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. The latter two are Republicans who, like the Partnership, are not easily persuaded to back a Cuomo policy change. This time is different.
Cuomo wants to eliminate the corporate income tax for upstate manufacturers, phase out a utility surcharge and reduce the estate tax. The proposals get at the root of a number of long-standing issues business owners have had. And while this is an election year and the cuts are based on a budget surplus that is anticipated two years from now, they are real enough. If implemented, the cuts will be a step in changing our reputation for taxes that always go up.
The business taxes are a drain on companies and practically force them to at least consider moving out of state. Dropping the corporate income tax rate for upstate manufacturers to zero, Ryan said, will encourage manufacturers to grow their operations.
The utility surcharge proposal would end the fee ahead of its scheduled phaseout in 2018. The Partnership has said the surcharge is a “detriment to doing business,” particularly for manufacturers, and contradicts the governor’s efforts to promote the state as business friendly.
Raising the estate tax exemption threshold and lowering the rate is music to Corwin’s ears. The Clarence Republican says she is tired of seeing residents flee to more welcoming tax climes later in life.
The bipartisan support for business tax relief should come as no surprise. The proposal would take a bit of the pressure off the state’s untenable tax situation. And yet it is also just a start at digging into the core issues of why New York is such an expensive place to do business.
As this page has said in the past, whoever becomes governor must focus on the staggering cost of Medicaid. Other focal points must be the Taylor Law, which increases the costs of public labor contracts; the Triborough Amendment, which discourages public unions from negotiating new contracts; and the Scaffold Law, which raises the cost of most construction in New York.
Those proposals face strong opposition. Cuomo’s tax relief, with its bipartisan support, is a good place to begin.