A closer look at state budget hot topics

It’s a fascinating exercise to watch the state budget process as it unfolds this year.

We spent a little time in the past week on the NFIB’s New York Small Business Day online, learning about a variety of issues that could impact businesses across the state.

At the same time, The Business Council has pumped out an updated chart demonstrating broad disparities in proposals from the Governor’s office, the state Senate, and the Assembly.

But here’s a quick review of some items that stand to have a big impact on business overall.

Minimum wage reform is included in all the budget proposals currently on the table in Albany.

Governor Hochul has called for a downstate increase by the lesser of 3% or the consumer price increase, with an increase to 15 dollars for the rest of the state, and subsequent changes based on the consumer price increase.

The Business Council points out that while the Governor’s proposal is manageable, the Senate and Assembly have not said what their proposed wage would be but have indicated a desire to raise it with increases indexed to inflation.

The minimum wage impacts all business owners, and this is a key issue to watch as the budget negotiations play out.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses in New York favors plans to use federal pandemic aid and/or state revenues to help pay off the state’s Unemployment Insurance debt and replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

The fund has been completely depleted in the past few years due to COVID-19 pandemic unemployment claims. NFIB points out that even though steps were taken to freeze unemployment ratings, UI tax increases for employers remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, creating a burden for small businesses.

The Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly are all calling for variations of proposals to require newly constructed buildings in the state to be fully electric – using no fossil fuels.

There would be exemptions for emergency back-up power, and buildings that are specifically used for manufacturing, commercial foods, hospitals, and others.

Agricultural buildings would be exempt. The deadlines for these changes vary by proposal from the end of 2024 to the end of 2028. Only the Governor’s draft budget calls for the New York Power Authority to focus on renewable energy to expand the state’s power grid.

Business organizations generally agree that the state’s infrastructure must be enhanced to meet new power demands before additional burdens are placed on the system.

In recent years New York’s budget process was largely a function of two-party negotiations, with compromises due to what was – for a long time – a Republican majority in the Senate with the Assembly and the Governor’s office held by Democrats.

Now, even though Democrats hold the majority in both houses and the Governor’s office, there are still differences in proposals and many topics remain open to negotiation.

The state budget deadline is April 1. Last year the budget process dragged on into April, and that may be the case again this year as the parties seem to be far apart in some instances.

What does all of this mean for citizens and for businesses? It means we still have an opportunity to make our voices heard.

We urge all local businesspeople to contact not only our local elected representatives, but also the Governor’s office and key committee chairs and members in Albany.

It’s quick and easy to send an email through their web pages, which can all be found at www.nysenate.gov, www.nyassembly.gov, or www.governor.ny.gov.


Join us for the next Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at Pearl City Hops in Jamestown, April 13. This event will be held in the beautiful first floor lounge space called Pearl City Hops at the DoubleTree on Fourth Street.

Business After Hours is designed as a relaxing way for local businesspeople to network with others while they enjoy complimentary appetizers and a cash bar from 5-6:30pm.

We encourage all Chamber member businesses to attend – no matter what type of business you have – and also encourage non-members to sample the event to see what we have to offer.

Business After Hours at Pearl City Hops is sponsored by Pearl City Hops, Media One Radio Group, The Post-Journal, and OBSERVER. Each Chamber member business can send two people at no cost to each Business After Hours.

Any employees above the two-person limit, or non-members, are welcome at $10 each.

Advanced registration is not required but is requested for our planning purposes. You can sign up now through the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.



The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce State Legislative Breakfast will be held Friday, April 28 at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. State Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell will be our guests for a discussion session with moderator John D’Agostino from the OBSERVER. We urge you to come prepared with questions for our state elected representatives. Advanced registration is required and is open now on the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.

This event is sponsored by Brooks-TLC Hospital System/Kaleida Health, Chautauqua Suites Meeting & Expo Center, DFT Communications, Jamestown Mattress, LaBella Associates, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and the Small Business Development Center. Check-in will begin at 8:00am with a buffet breakfast prepared, and the program will begin promptly at 8:30am.

We ask that all attendees visit the buffet line before the program begins. The price is $22 for Chamber members or $26 for non-members. Sign up now or save the date and watch our calendar as we confirm venues and dates for many other events in the year ahead!


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