Legislative session produces positive outcomes
By TODD TRANUM
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
The close of the 2012 Legislative session in New York state has resulted in a few good outcomes for the state's business sector, while some issues remain unresolved.
Positive accomplishments include the passage of an on-time budget for the second year in a row. The budget also closed a $3.5 billion deficit without adding new taxes.
Pension reform was also approved with the creation of a Tier VI plan - a move that is expected to save more than $80 billion statewide. State lawmakers also approved a bill that reduces the growth in the local share of Medicaid payments, which is designed to save counties $1.2 billion over five years.
One issue that was not adequately addressed in the legislative session was mandate relief. There have been a number of opportunities to bring much-needed relief to employers, schools and local governments. There is a great deal of work yet to be done in these arenas. The 2 percent tax cap was intended to entice local taxing entities to reduce spending. It has helped. However, without true mandate relief from Albany, local governments and school districts will continue to be squeezed - trying to maintain essential services while still burdened by heavy requirements not of their own making.
The Business Council last fall released a six point plan for mandate relief called "Let New York Work." It included the following:
Make the pension system predictable and affordable
Redefine compulsory arbitration
Control the costs of construction on public/private projects
When contracts expire, freeze step increases
Establish minimum health insurance contributions level for employees and retirees
No new mandates
We continue to look to the state legislature for many of these substantive changes which will help to free businesses and encourage economic growth.
Chamber mixer at the county fairgrounds
The next chamber networking mixer will be a preview of the Chautauqua County Fair. Coming up on July 19, the event will features the sites and tastes of the fair - to be held at the Fairgrounds on Central Avenue, Dunkirk.
This networking event is sponsored by DFT Communications, Fredonia Place, Jamestown Jammers Baseball, Jamestown Mattress Company, Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, Lake Erie Regional Health System, Nestle Purina PetCare, OBSERVER, the Post-Journal, WDOE-KIX96, and WJTN/WWSE/WKSN/WHUG/WQFX.
To register visit our new website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call one of our offices at 366-6200 or 484-1101.
Summer-long photo contest underway
With a number of high quality photos already posted, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce online photo contest is off to a tremendous start. The contest is taking place on the Chamber's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChautauquaChamber. Photographs must have been taken in Chautauqua County to be eligible. Once a photo is uploaded to the site, the photographer can encourage friends to like the Chamber page and vote for their picture. The winners will be chosen by a guest panel from the top ten vote getters. The contest will continue through Labor Day, and winners will be announced in October. All prizes will be awarded in Shoptauqua Gift Checks as follows: $350 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.
Does your business need health insurance?
The Community Chamber Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, is providing outreach and assistance to small businesses on healthcare and health insurance. As part of the statewide Small Business Assistance Program network established through the Community Service Society of New York, CCDC is working to meet the needs of employers and employees.
CCDC, a subsidiary of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, can help small businesses navigate the complexities of healthcare coverage and health insurance enrollment. Staff is available to work with small groups or in individual meetings. For more information or to set up an appointment call 366-6200 or 484-1101.