Unshackle Upstate touts new economic recovery plan

Unshackle Upstate touts new economic recovery plan

Unshackle Upstate, an advocacy group for upstate job creators and taxpayers, has released an economic recovery plan that would halt minimum wage increases and reduce taxes.

“Fast Forward – A Rapid Recovery Plan for the Upstate Economy” suggests delaying scheduled increases in upstate minimum wage; reducing the income tax rate, corporate tax rate and sales tax rate for localities with fewer than 1 million people; establishing and empowering a bicameral, bipartisan upstate legislative caucus to advance pro-growth proposals; investing in upstate infrastructure needs including cell and broadband access; and reducing the cost of construction through reform; among other things.

Brian Sampson
Brian Sampson

“Rather than waiting on Washington to save the day, there are things state officials can do right now that will help rebuild our economy and revive our communities,” said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate chairman and president of Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “Unshackle Upstate’s Fast Forward agenda will give a much-needed boost to small businesses, family farms and taxpayers across the upstate region. Our elected leaders need to get back to work and get our economy back on track.”

According to the report, New York has paid out more than $40 billion in temporary unemployment relief and more than 81,000 federal PPP loans have been issued to businesses statewide, totaling more than $20 billion. And, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, “nearly every upstate county has recorded population loss since 2010.”

“Unless Albany takes action, the upstate exodus will continue,” according to the report. “Fast-tracking the proposals contained in this plan will help ensure upstate’s ‘new normal’ is better than before.”

Unshackle Upstate notes that New York’s business tax climate is ranked as the second-worst nationwide by the Tax Foundation. New York has the third-highest cellular taxes and the seventh-highest gas tax in the nation, according to the report. Unshackle Upstate contends that New Yorkers with private health insurance pay $5.2 billion in taxes.

One facet of Unshackle Upstate’s plan is to make the state more affordable for all by:
• Reducing the property tax burden by addressing unfunded mandates on local governments;
• Enacting reforms to reduce energy costs for residents and employers;
• Eliminating unnecessary health care taxes, assessments and surcharges;
• Rejecting a single payer health care system; and
• Lowering excise taxes.

Unshackle Upstate is calling on leaders in Albany to address aging roads, bridges and transportation needs, stating that on average, a New York driver loses $2,768 annually due to deteriorating roads and bridges and related traffic congestion.

The group is calling for fulfilling broad energy needs “like expanded natural gas pipelines and access to Canadian hydropower” and supporting regional parity to address critical infrastructure needs.

Reducing the cost of construction has long been a part of Unshackle Upstate’s agenda. The coalition suggests reforming the way New York calculates Prevailing Wage and enacting a 5-year moratorium on the Scaffold Law. The law — enacted 135 years ago, it holds employers and property owners liable when a worker becomes injured due to a gravity-related fall — costs New York taxpayers $785 million each year, according to the report.

“We can and must do better,” the report states. “Now is the opportunity for Albany to fix the past mistakes that have made New York a challenging place to do business and an expensive place to live.”

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