Unshackle Upstate Unveils New ERA for Upstate Plan

Posted: Sep 3rd, 2013

ALBANY, NY – Unshackle Upstate, the state’s leading pro-taxpayer advocacy organization, today released its New ERA (Economic Revitalization Agenda) for Upstate plan at the Capitol in Albany. The proposal consists of five points designed to deliver broad-based tax relief and stimulate job growth across Upstate New York.

Citing Upstate New York’s history of high taxes, economic decline and population loss, the organization emphasized the importance of enacting this plan in the 2014 legislative session.

“Our Upstate communities have been victimized by a three-headed monster for decades. Our New ERA for Upstate plan will help combat the burdensome taxes, high unemployment rates and population losses that have plagued Upstate for far too long,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “This five-point plan will reduce taxes for people and businesses that need it the most. It will also create thousands of good-paying jobs and boost the Upstate economy.”

The organization touted the plan’s five key points:

·       Reduce state income taxes by 25 percent for Upstate residents making less than $50,000 annually

o   Approximate annual cost of $225 million

·       Reduce the Corporate Franchise Tax (9-A) for Upstate businesses

o   Phase out over 4 years and eliminate by 2018

§  25-percent reduction in 2014-15

§  50-percent reduction in 2015-16

§  75-percent reduction in 2016-17

§  Full repeal in 2017-18

o   Approximate cost of $273 million in 2014-15

·       Reduce state sales tax by 50 percent in targeted Upstate counties

o   Reduce state sales tax share by 50 percent (from 4 percent to 2 percent) for the Upstate counties with the significant decline in population and high unemployment rates

o   Approximate annual cost of $250 million

·       Eliminate the 18a energy assessment for Upstate manufacturers 

o   Approximate cost of $190 million in 2014-15

§  Cost will be reduced in succeeding years as the tax is phased out

·       Develop the Marcellus Shale

o   Generate approximately $78 million in state revenue in 2014-15

§  Revenues will grow in future years as natural gas development activity increases

In total, this plan will cost $860 million. This cost is equivalent to .6 percent of the projected 2014 state budget. Sampson encouraged legislative leaders to include the proposal in next year’s budget.

“If our leaders in Albany are committed to improving the Upstate economy, they should support the New ERA for Upstate plan. Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have enacted other pro-Upstate economic initiatives like Start-Up NY, the Regional Economic Development Councils and the two-percent property tax cap – all of which we supported. It’s time for our elected officials to take the next bold step and support the New ERA for Upstate plan.”

The organization’s proposal has received support from several prominent Upstate business leaders.

“Unshackle Upstate’s New ERA plan provides a road map for Albany’s leaders  to continue to build on their much appreciated investments and attention to Upstate New York,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “By addressing Upstate’s troublesome tax burden, overarching regulations, and tapping into its regional assets, the New ERA plan will allow Upstate to prosper.”

“The New ERA for Upstate plan will deliver much needed tax relief to people in both the Greater Rochester area and the entire Upstate region,” said Sandy Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance and a co-founder of Unshackle Upstate. “We must ensure that our manufacturers and small businesses can compete in a global economy and this plan will help us meet the important goal. We thank the governor and the Legislature for their previous economic efforts and ask them to support the New ERA for Upstate plan.”

“This plan addresses what Unshackle has been calling for since day one, real and impactful tax relief for Upstate,” said Lou Santoni, president and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. “Equally important is the recognition that natural gas development will positively reshape the Southern Tier and Upstate economy. These are things that need to be done if New York is serious about improving Upstate.”

“A lot has been accomplished over the last few years in terms of reforms and new tools for Upstate, such as the Regional Economic Development Council process,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “But unemployment and other numbers remain too high across much of upstate New York and further targeted relief is needed. This plan can provide real results for job creators and residents alike, and hopefully can become a reality in the next legislative session.”

“Unshackle Upstate’s New ERA Plan is a bold proposal that can have immediate effects to improve the Upstate New York economy,” said Dave Rakvica, project executive for Tetra Tech Construction. “Albany needs to strongly consider a broad-based tax relief plan such as the New ERA Plan because this plan will enable the growth of private sector jobs and strengthen upstate communities that are desperately in need. With smart initiatives like the New ERA plan, the people of New York will benefit greatly.”

“The Associated Builders & Contractors supports Unshackle Upstate’s call for development of the Marcellus Shale,” said Joshua Reap, director of government affairs for the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. “Safe, responsible hydraulic fracturing will bring opportunity for countless construction workers and their families across the Southern Tier of New York.  Study after study has proven modern technology can be used to do the work safely and efficiently in a way that protects drinking water and the well-being of the environment.  It is now time for New York State to approve safe natural gas exploration to help create jobs and increase the availability of domestically produced energy.”

In the coming weeks and months, Unshackle Upstate will promote the New ERA plan with a series of public events and an aggressive online advocacy campaign.

“As we’ve done for the past seven years, Unshackle Upstate will work hard to advance ideas that will strengthen Upstate New York. Whether it’s over a cup of coffee or over the web, we’re looking forward to talking with families, business owners and elected officials about the benefits of the New ERA plan.”

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View a standalone version (PDF format) of the New ERA for Upstate plan here: http://unshackleupstate.com/assets/news/2013neweraplan.pdf

View a fact sheet containing data on unemployment rates and population loss for Upstate counties here: http://unshackleupstate.com/assets/news/2013neweracountycharts.pdf

Unshackle Upstate is a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York. The coalition's website, www.unshackleupstate.com, allows citizens to join the Unshackle Army and send messages to elected officials in Albany. Connect with Unshackle Upstate on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unshacklenyand Facebook: www.facebook.com/unshackleupstate.