Volker, Senate Majority Unveil New Job Creation Plan

William T. Stachowski

September 25, 2008

Plan Includes Major Tax Cuts for Small Businesses and Manufacturers

Senator Dale Volker and his colleagues in the Senate Majority recently unveiled a new economic development plan that will create new jobs, particularly Upstate, revitalize communities and encourage young people to stay in New York State.

Provisions of the plan include new, job creating tax cuts for small businesses and manufacturers that will make them more competitive.

In addition, the Senate plan would provide tax credits tied to the creation of new jobs; would reduce unnecessary, costly and burdensome government regulations, provide tax credits and interest-free loans to students who stay in New York State, reform the Empire Zone program to make it more effective and accountable and encourage new investments in community revitalization.

"The Senate’s plan will make the state more competitive for business growth now and job creation in advance of the scheduled expiration of the Empire Zone program in two years," Senator Skelos said. "We are looking to the future and proposing a plan to encourage the creation of permanent, high-salary jobs that works for businesses across the state and will put New York in a much better position to compete for new businesses and jobs.

"Our plan would dramatically reduce business taxes and take a more broad-based approach that is more effective, more accountable, and would encourage businesses to grow and create new jobs," Senator Dale Volker (R-C-I, Depew) said. "The Senate is putting forward a job creation plan that would provide real solutions for businesses today and new hope for New Yorkers for tomorrow." will put New York in a much better position to compete for new businesses and jobs."

"People want job security today, financial security tomorrow and opportunities for their children in the future," Senator Skelos said. "This is a strong, commonsense plan of action that will help create new job opportunities and keep current jobs from leaving New York. With this plan we are taking the next step towards a more effective and accountable way to help businesses grow and create jobs."

Senator Skelos said that Empire Zones have been the state’s primary economic development for many years and along with some successes, the program has been criticized for a lack of fairness and accountability. The Senate’s plan includes reforms to make the Empire Zone program more accountable and to ensure that all the state’s incentives to attract businesses return equal value in terms of job creation."

Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) said, "While there is no silver bullet to solving all of our economic problems, the Senate’s plan offers a comprehensive and common sense approach to getting our economy back on track. Our plan’s focus is in the right place—on reducing taxes, regulations, and red tape so businesses can thrive in our communities."

Highlights of the Senate’s job creation plan include:

> Cut taxes on small businesses in half and eliminate business taxes for small manufacturers;

> Create new tax credits tied to job creation and job training by manufacturers;

> Make reforms to the Empire Zone program to increase accountability to ensure that companies receiving benefits create high-paying jobs;

> Help small businesses obtain loans to grow;

> Reduce health insurance costs for small businesses;

> Expand tax credits for investments by emerging technology businesses;

> Provide low cost student loans and create a tax credit program for students who go to college in New York and stay in New York;

> Eliminate state regulations, red tape and paperwork; and

> Give local governments greater authority to provide tax breaks for community and neighborhood revitalization projects;

Creating Economic Opportunity

Small Business & Manufacturing Tax Cuts

The Senate plan includes broad based, statewide tax reductions and redirected state investments that will lower the cost of doing business, level the playing field for existing businesses and help small businesses and manufacturers grow and create new jobs

In the first year of the Senate plan, the corporate franchise tax would be cut in half for businesses with 20 employees or less or not more than $1 million in net income. In the following year, the business tax would be completely eliminated for small manufacturers. This would reduce corporate taxes for all small businesses by $25 million the first year and cut taxes by an additional $15 million for all small manufacturers in the following year.

This tax cut would particularly benefit main street businesses, existing small manufacturers, small start-ups and high technology companies. New York State has 18,500 technology companies with an average of 16 employees. There are a total of more than 427,000 small businesses in New York that employ more than 3.9 million people.

In his speech to the Business Council, Senator Skelos pointed out that Ohio has dramatically reduced its business taxes and Massachusetts voters will decide this fall whether to eliminate that state’s personal income tax.

"Since the Empire Zone program was created to alleviate high taxes on businesses, it makes sense to allow the program to expire and use the funds to lower taxes on small businesses and manufacturers to ensure fairness and encourage job growth," Senator James Alesi said. "The Senate’s plan represents a vision for the future that will enable New York to help small businesses grow, encourage emerging technology companies to expand and strengthen manufacturing firms."

"The Senate Republican Majority's economic development plan is bold and innovative. Encouraging manufacturers and small businesses to create and retain jobs in this state is just what our economy needs and it is what this plan would do," said Kenneth Adams, president & CEO of The Business Council of New York. "This plan would provide tax relief and incentives to all manufacturers and small businesses seeking to provide jobs in New York rather than to a few in targeted zones."

"Small businesses in New York State--the backbone of our state's economy--struggle to survive as they contend with among the highest taxes, health care and energy costs in the nation. Senate Majority Leader Skelos is to be commended for unveiling this new job creation plan to address these critical issues and strengthen the small business sector. This package takes on many of the core issues challenging New York's entrepreneurs and job creators, and is a breakthrough proposal focused on lowering New York's second highest in the nation cost of doing business. NFIB looks forward to working with the Senator Skelos and the Senate Majority--long-time allies of small business--and all our supporters in the legislature to enact this proposal."

IMAJIN Manufacturing Tax Credit

The Integrated Manufacturing Jobs and Investment Credit (IMAJIN) initiative would provide a tax credit based upon a manufacturer’s creation of new jobs and the amount of personal income taxes generated from those jobs.

The Senate’s plan would reduce state taxes on manufacturers by $130 million a year by providing manufacturers incentives for creating new jobs and providing job training and for making new investments. If the investments accompany employment and/or training, the credits would be refundable. These benefits would help prevent "outsourcing" and keep jobs in New York.

"This credit provides an incentive for manufacturing businesses to create or relocate jobs in New York State and help discourage outsourcing of jobs," Senator Joe Robach said. "It would also send a message to large-scale manufacturers, such as major automakers, that New York is ready to compete and win to land these kinds of companies and jobs."

The IMAJIN initiative includes:

> A payroll tax credit to manufacturing employers based upon the creation of new jobs. The credit would be equal to 90 percent of the amount of personal income taxes generated from those new jobs;

> A 50 percent employee skills job training credit;

> A 15 percent Manufacturers Investment Tax Credit (MITC) that could be combined with either the new employee credit or the training credit to get a refundable credit; and

> A new MITC credit to be combined with prior year’s carry-over credits to generate a refundable investment tax credit.

The IMAJIN credit will not only help traditional manufacturers, but would also apply to farmers who would be eligible for the IMAJIN credits. Farmers would be offered assistance so they can make investments to ensure the future of our state’s largest industry.

In addition, Senator Skelos said that he supports providing manufacturing companies with long-term contracts for low cost power to help them reduce their operating costs for energy.

Helping Small Businesses Get Loans

Often companies hesitate before undertaking transformational projects because it is difficult to obtain working capital loans. As with a start-up companies, there is often a lag between when the investment is made and when the revenue begins to flow.

To assist small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing tightening of the credit market, the state would provide a loan guarantee for small businesses to access working capital loans, with a three-year repayment deferral.

Easing Small Business Health Insurance Costs

The high cost of providing health insurance to employees is a primary concern of small businesses. The Senate plan includes four reforms that would employ a market-based approach to expand access to affordable quality health care by reducing the cost of health insurance policies for small businesses.

> Expand Healthy NY from 208 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 250 percent of the FPL. This would make a family of four with annual net income of approximately $60,000 per year eligible for the program;

> Make Healthy NY available to all, but at an unsubsidized rate. Doing so would reduce health insurance costs for small businesses at no cost to the State because qualified businesses would be able to purchase streamlined health insurance policies, which could reduce premiums by up to 50 percent;

> Exempting high deductible health plans from State mandates would have the same effect as allowing insurers to offer Healthy NY at an unsubsidized rate; and

> Require the Department of Labor and the Department of State to study the costs and benefits of allowing businesses to create innovative and flexible heath coverage plans as authorized under Federal Statute.

Expanded High Tech Investment

The existing Qualified Emerging Technology Credit is an innovative and successful way government can assist high technology businesses to create new jobs. The Senate proposal would remove the December 31, 2011 tax credit sunset date and increase the maximum credit that a company can claim for capital investment and research support from $250,000 to $400,000 per year. Emerging technology firms would receive an additional $20 million a year in reimbursed grants from the State.

Eliminate Wasteful Regulations, Reduce Paperwork & Cut Red Tape

The Senate is proposing the creation of a Regulatory Reform and Competitiveness Commission to review all state regulations for their impact on the state’s businesses. The Commission would include representatives from the large and small business community, as well as local government and labor, and, similar to the Berger Commission, make a recommendation to the State Legislature of regulatory revisions that would become law, unless the State Legislature passed superseding legislation.

In addition, all agencies would be required to identify the economic impact and cost to business of any and all proposed new regulations.

"While the Governor has proposed a regulatory review panel comprised of five people in the Executive Chamber, the Senate is calling for a broader group that would include representatives of the Legislature, Executive, as well as appointees from business and labor organizations," Senator Skelos said. "This would ensure a larger range of viewpoints and perspective to help reduce state regulations that increase costs, stunt business growth and discourage job creation with no clear or significant benefit. By mandating that the recommendations become law, absent legislative action, this panel would have the power and teeth needed to achieve its goals of reducing red tape."

Encourage Hometown Neighborhood Investment

To encourage private sector investment in community revitalization, the Senate’s plan would give municipalities wide authority to exempt improvements from real property taxes.

Under the Senate plan, localities and school districts would be able to determine which community revitalization projects would be exempt, what taxes the project would be exempt from and for how long. Municipalities currently need state authorization to provide tax abatements for development.

This program would be similar to Chapter 370 of the Laws of 2008 which empowered the City of Syracuse to offer real property tax exemptions as a catalyst for new residential construction and the rehabilitation of hazardous vacant residential structures, and would encourage "green" design and construction through enhanced exemptions.

"The new City of Syracuse property tax exemption is an essential tool in achieving success for our ongoing revitalization projects," said Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-I-C, Syracuse). "I applaud Senator Skelos for recognizing the value of property tax exemptions, such as the one in my hometown, and for creating a plan to help promote private sector and homeowner investment and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods across our State."

Encouraging Children to Build Their Future in New York

Helping Students Afford College – and Keeping Them In New York

This initiative would provide low interest student loans to New York State residents attending an institution of higher education in New York who apply for a loan. The low interest loan would cover the cost of tuition once federal or state financial aid and all additional institutional scholarships or grants are deducted.

In addition, the program would provide a tax credit equal to 10 percent of the loan balance plus interest for graduates that receive loans through this program and are employed in New York for ten years. After ten years, the tax credits would offset the loan balance for graduates who have met the residency and employment requirements. This program would provide an investment of $70 million annually, beginning in SFY 2013-14.

Because the loans would be financed with tax-exempt bonds, interest rates would be reduced by roughly 50%. This would benefit approximately 95,000 students in the first year.

"At present, New York is the only state in the northeast that does not offer students a low-cost student loan program." Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson), Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee said "With the costs of higher education rising, along with the overall cost of living, more and more families are looking for loans and financial assistance of any kind to afford the cost of a college education.

The Senate Majority plan would provide state subsidized, low-interest loans to help families and young people achieve their dreams of a college education, while also providing incentives for them to remain in New York State.

"NYFB welcomes Senator Skelos’ and the Senate Majority’s announcement of an exciting new package for business development. New York’s farm families are poised to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for growth over the next five years, based on the locally grown phenomenon, but to do so we have to grow and expand our farm businesses. This plan would help family farms invest for the future, ensuring that new jobs are created, working agricultural landscapes are maintained, and all New Yorkers continue to enjoy our wonderful home grown farm products," said John Lincoln, president of New York Farm Bureau.