Weekly Feature

2017-08-17 / Editorial

Western New York needs tax, regulation relief from Albany

Erie County Legislator

Recently, I began my annual August business tour. Each year, I visit a number of businesses throughout my district to celebrate their milestones, highlight what they’re doing, and discuss any challenges they might be facing.

I am always grateful for the opportunity to meet with small business owners and employees, while learning their successes and struggles.

One of the common themes from each business owner this year has been how difficult it is to begin and continue operating in New York State.

Consistently ranked 49th or 50th in “Business Friendliness,” New York State saddles small businesses with far too many regulations, requirements and hurdles. Unfortunately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo refuses to do anything to really help.

While increasing the minimum wage was a hot button topic at the national level, the governor did his best to ram it through without discussion, debate or input from all sides.

Although increasing the minimum wage sounds good, nearly every business owner I spoke with claimed it was making it more difficult for them to operate their businesses. The problem isn’t that owners are unwilling to pay the higher wage. The problem lies in managing the sudden increase in starting pay for new employees who now make nearly as much as employees who have been working for decades.

With razor-thin margins, onerous regulations and intense competition, small business owners are struggling with the change. Every business owner I have spoken with wants to help lift up the economy and provide living wages for their employees. They want to see Western New York prosper and are doing what they can to be productive members of the local economy and community. They also wish they were at least part of the conversation before New York State dictates more mandates.

Along with 89 other county legislators across upstate New York and spanning multiple political parties, I sent a letter to the governor asking him to address the problems that are actually facing New Yorkers.

We asked for a constructive, nonpartisan dialogue that would be in the best interest of all. In return, all we’ve gotten is silence. It truly is a disservice that neither the governor, nor any single representative from his office, could be bothered to respond to our letter.

In February, the governor stated that he had “done everything he could do to lower taxes.” His statement is absurd.

In his most recent budget he not only included new fees and taxes, he extended “temporary” taxes that were set to expire. This totaled billions of dollars.

Calling them “revenue actions” or “reforms,” the governor finds creative names and creative ways to tax everywhere. When our state is being led by a governor who thinks this way, we clearly have an uphill battle in Albany.

If you have any comments on this law or another county issue, please contact my office at 858-8922 or email joseph.lorigo@ erie.gov.

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