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State budget increases the cost of government

Chamber Corner

The final passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan at the federal level, shored up many of the funding gaps projected in the proposed Executive Budget. New York State will be receiving an additional $12.6 billion in unrestricted federal aid, in addition to significant categorical aid that will support key state programs, including $9.4 billion for K to 12 education, $2.6 billion for higher education, $1.8 billion for childcare, and $358 million for broadband deployment, among others. In addition, projections suggest an additional $1.2 billion in tax receipts that were not in the Executive Budget. The American Rescue Plan will deliver $6.14 billion for cities, $3.9 billion for counties and $825 million for other municipalities. So, between the federal government supports, more promising tax receipts and direct aid to local governments we would have hoped that would be an adequate flow of revenue to the State and local governments to avoid a tax increase. However, New York residents and corporations will see a multi-billion dollar tax increase per the budget passed by the Assembly and Senate. We believe a budget could have been put together that avoided this huge tax increase, which has the potential to slow down any momentum that is gathering towards a recovery.

Despite our concerns pertaining to these hefty tax increases, there are targeted funding initiatives in the budget that are important to our economic recovery. Included in the package is a $1 billion relief package for small businesses, arts, entertainment, and restaurants to help those industries recover from the pandemic. That funding comes in the form of both grants and tax credits.

This state budget includes multi-year programs that will improve the state’s infrastructure to the tune of $311 billion — a plan that can create jobs as well as improve deteriorating roads, bridges, utilities, and mass transit systems.

There will be a $50 million investment in the COVID-19 Recovery Workforce Development & Training Initiative. This funding will provide training in high-growth industries, employer-driven training for low-income workers and funding for small businesses to re-train and hire furloughed, laid-off or new employees.

A $29 billion program made up of both public and private investments is designed to create green energy under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Proposals include a massive wind energy system as well as additional renewable energy projects and a transition to electric busses for mass transit programs.

The budget ensures that New York uses Buy American principles in manufacturing of components made in renewable energy products and the budget applies similar principles to the acquisition of personal protective equipment.

There is additional money for schools, higher education, and childcare in the state budget. This past year shined a light on how both education and childcare faced significant challenges and that had a ripple effect on our workforce. Increased investments tied to high quality childcare have long been needed. This is good for families, workers and employers.

The budget continues the phase-in of the middle-class tax cut, which is expected to save 4.8 million New Yorkers over $2.2 billion this year.

Overall spending in the new budget is $212 billion for the fiscal year that began April 1 — an increase in spending of over $18 billion from last year. That increase is partly coming from extra federal pandemic aid. As with every year, we find this new budget to be a mixed bag that provides some benefits to our business community and some new challenges as well. In any case, we know that building back from the losses of a pandemic year will be both difficult and expensive.

GET VACCINATED TO HELP OUR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMY

Both the availability and eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations have increased in our region now, and at the same time we continue to see cases of the virus increasing in Western New York. Now is not the time to let down your guard against this disease.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier has been working closely with a local network of healthcare providers and the United Way to improve communication around vaccine clinics. We will continue to promote vaccination as a crucial route towards restoring the health of our community and our economy. Businesses can only thrive when they have a healthy workforce and healthy consumers. This is especially important now as some of our larger entertainment venues are set to reopen and as the summer tourism season approaches.

Please continue to do your part. Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands. Get vaccinated.

JOIN US APRIL 13 FOR TUESDAY TALKS: SUMMER TOURISM SEASON

In our ongoing series of Tuesday Talks events the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will focus in April on the upcoming summer tourism season and what that means for local businesses. Our guests will be Andrew Nixon, Executive Director of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau; Emily Morris, Senior Vice President and Chief Brand Officer at Chautauqua Institution; and Henry Sirois, General Manager at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.

This event is set for 8:30am, Tuesday, April 13 and will be held via Zoom webinar. We encourage all attendees to support our small businesses by getting some takeout breakfast or coffee to enjoy during the event and come prepared with questions for our guests. This Tuesday Talks event is sponsored by OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and Univera Healthcare Southern Tier.

You can register online now through our Chamber calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.

STATE LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST IS APRIL 23

When the Chamber of Commerce scheduled its State Legislative Breakfast as our first ever virtual event last April, little did we know we would still be meeting online a year later. This year we continue to hold online events in place of large group gatherings, as health concerns still influence these decisions.

This year’s Virtual State Legislative Breakfast is set for 8am, Friday, April 23. Our guests will be State Senator George Borrello and State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell. We encourage all attendees to come prepared to submit questions for our representatives in Albany. You may also email questions prior to the meeting to swebster@chautauquachamber.org.

This is another great opportunity to support small local businesses, as you can easily pick up breakfast or coffee from a local restaurant to enjoy during the online event. Our sponsors are Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown Mattress Company, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, Serta Mattress Company, and UPMC Chautauqua. Please register in advance through our online Chamber calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.

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