‘Less bad’ not working for state

Albany may think New York is “Open for Business,” but other major national organizations are seeing the closed sign when looking to the Empire State.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, Albany is still not doing enough to promote a friendly environment for the private sector, especially small business. National Federation of Independent Business state director Mike Durant said that despite the barrage of cheerleading and high-fiving taking place in the state capital for minimal accomplishments, there is “very little reason for optimism” for many.

“The 2013 legislative session has been a significant step back for New York’s small businesses,” Durant said this week. “While the unemployment insurance and workers compensation reform packages were necessary and appreciated, they have been drastically offset by a consistent and troubling message that less bad is good. From an increase in the minimum wage to the unconscionable rejection of scaffold law reform, Albany has not worked for small business.”

Durant also seems critical of the Start Up NY initiative, formerly Tax Free NY, which aims to bring in new business that is tied to an academic community. In our area, Fredonia State could help drive this economic idea. However, the plan does nothing to address the current tax burden faced by already existing business and property owners.

“We acknowledge the efforts to revitalize New York, particularly Upstate, through new economic investment but have failed to see the same focus on sustaining existing small business,” Durant said. “Albany needs to avoid political simplicity and focus both on our economic future and implement pro-growth policies that protect New York’s fragile economic reality.”

Earlier this spring, Durant noted New York’s porous rating by CEO Magazine – 49th out of 50 – in a study of the Best & Worst States to do business. One of the comments to the magazine on the state included this: “Given New York’s onerous tax regulations, we are seriously going to consider whether we allow employees to travel to or participate in events in that state. We can’t afford for New York to become a tax nexus for us just because our employees participate in a conference in New York or the like.”

Obviously, Albany still has lots of work to do.

Business Council responds

On Sunday, our Opinion pages will include a commentary from Ken Pokalsky of the Business Council of New York State in regard to its stance on the repowering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk. Pokalsky’s group came out against the company’s $500 million plans for the facility, saying it will adversely affect electric rates. The group also notes that even if the Dunkirk plant does close, rates will continue to go up.

National Grid, never known for low rates, also opposes the NRG plan.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.