Getting down to business

Small businesses are among New York’s top employers and to keep them on top it is crucial that state government partner with these job creators. I am committed to advancing legislation that helps create an atmosphere conducive to job creation – cutting business taxes, lowering energy costs, and eliminating unnecessary government regulations. With that in mind, I was particularly pleased to recently receive top marks from two leading business groups for my voting record on key business issues.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) based their scoring on eleven priority bills that were voted on by the state senate. The list includes bills that would reduce costly mandates on small businesses, improve broadband access in rural communities, and cut property taxes for famers. My grade from the NFIB, a 91, was tied for top honors in the state senate.

Unshackle Upstate, a pro-taxpayer, pro-jobs advocacy organization, focused their scorecard on legislation that would help grow jobs in New York and enhance economic growth. My grade from the Unshackle Upstate was a perfect 100, the top mark issued.

Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate said, “Recent polling has shown that taxes and job creation are key issues for people across the state. Our 2013-2014 legislative scorecards accurately reflect which legislators have advanced measures that help taxpayers and job creators. As we head into the election season, we encourage voters – especially in Upstate communities – to look at how their legislators performed over the past two years before they cast their vote.”

Mike Durant, NFIB New York State director said, “We applaud the legislators that scored well this cycle and appreciate their effort on behalf of small business.”

Fostering private sector job growth, especially through the expansion of our small businesses, has been and will remain one of my top priorities. I have worked hard to bring savings to our businesses by cutting government red tape, delivering meaningful tax cuts, and providing tax credits. These initiatives, in turn, help businesses expand and mean more people are earning a paycheck.

While I am pleased with the recognition from both the NFIB and Unshackle Upstate, I know more can be done to further enhance our state’s growth potential.

One bill (S.5481) that both business groups support would help tremendously with one of the issues I hear about on a daily basis – broadband access in rural areas. This measure known as “The Rural Broadband Deployment Act” would allow residents and small businesses in unserved areas to come together, pool their economic power and select a broadband provider to deploy services to their area. Any eligible out of pocket expenses a resident or small business incurs for the construction of the network, will be eligible for a 100 percent refundable tax credit, over 5 years. No broadband provider is eligible for the credit and the provider must make a significant contribution to the construction costs.

In support of this bill the NFIB said, “The current lack of access stunts the growth and survival of many upstate, rural small businesses and further impedes their ability to compete across New York.” To go further, not only does the lack of broadband access hurt the upstate business climate, it is also a major detriment for education, and the overall quality of life in many communities.

While the senate approved “The Rural Broadband Deployment Act “unanimously, the bill never made it to the assembly floor for a vote. Perhaps a few of the assembly members that received failing marks from Unshackle Upstate and the NFIB will think about advancing the bill next year to improve their grades.

Additional measures, approved by the senate, that would stop unfair tax audits of retailers, force a study on health insurance mandates, and end useless paperwork mandates would all have a positive impact on New York’s employment picture. The state assembly needs to answer the bell on these bills as well.

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