Business Council Releases Voters’ Guide

– The Business Council of New York State Inc. released its 2012 Voters’ Guide, which measures New York State legislators’ commitment to promoting fiscal reform and improving the state’s economic climate by scoring their votes on key legislation during the 2012 session. All 212 seats will be up for re-election in 2012, and our Voters’ Guide provides an opportunity for voters to review individual legislators’ records. The Business Council will be using its combined 2011-2012 rankings and other factors in making endorsements in advance of the November legislative elections.

Overall, our scorecard shows generally positive performance by both legislative houses, but clear leadership on pro-growth issues in the state Senate Majority and Assembly Minority.

“The pro-business momentum we saw in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions needs to continue in order for New York to regain its economic strength,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council. “In November, business leaders and all New Yorkers can use the Voters’ Guide to identify and support legislators who are committed to a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.”

The Business Council 2012 Voters’ Guide includes fifteen priority bills that were subject to a floor vote in one or both houses of the state legislature. The list includes nine pro-growth proposals and six bills that would have imposed new costs, new mandates and/or new hurdles on the state’s business community. Our Voters’ Guide scoring is based on floor votes in the Senate and Assembly, with one exception – the 66 Assembly sponsors of a Business Council proposal to reform the state’s “wage theft” law were given credit for their support, even though the bill was not brought to the floor by Assembly leadership.

The Senate Majority, led by Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senator Thomas Libous, Senator George Maziarz and others, were all at the 90 percent support level. The Senate approved nine of our priority, pro-growth bills, while approving only one priority bill opposed by The Business Council (dealing with consulting contracts).

The Assembly Minority had nine members at 92 percent (11 pro-growth votes out of 12 bills voted on in that house), including Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Assemblyman Robert Oaks and others. Fifteen others were at 83 percent (10 of 12 votes) and twelve more came in with 9 of 12 pro-business votes. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, chair of the Assembly Economic Development Committee, was the lone Assembly Majority member at 92 percent.

The Assembly Majority approved six of our priority pro-growth bills. However, they also passed six measures – five of which were one-house bills – that would impose new costs or new restrictions on businesses. Overall, forty-nine scored between 50 and 60 percent. In addition to Assemblyman Schimminger, other top scoring members included Assemblymen Gabryszak, Magee, and Morelle.

In 2012, The Business Council supported legislation that would reduce state and local pension costs; control state spending while avoiding new taxes; reform labor laws that impose unnecessary costs and restrictions on employers; and promote new jobs and investments in a range of strategically important business sectors. At the same time, we opposed legislation to extend public sector prevailing wage to private sector projects; expand lawsuits against publicly traded companies; drive up group health coverage costs; erode workers’ comp program reforms; and impose new environmental costs on power generation and industrial activity.

Importantly, successful advocacy by The Business Council and others kept a number of damaging bills from floor votes in either house. These include proposals to expand the Martin Act (the state’s harsh securities law), to impose public sector wage mandates on private sector projects, and bills that would have further increased the cost of employer-provided health care, and therefore they are not included in this year’s Voters’ Guide.

A complete list of our priority legislation and the 2012 Voters’ Guide are available here (www.bcnys.org/voter-guide/).

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