IDA Bill: New York Is Closed For Business

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) joined with state legislators from both houses, including Western New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer and Erie County Executive Chris Collins, to express their strong opposition to the proposed Industrial Development Authority (IDA) reform bill (A.3659), commonly dubbed the “IDA Death Bill,” at a press conference held this week in Albany.

“If this bill is enacted, Albany might as well hang a sign on the Thruway to tell everyone entering our state that New York is closed for business. This bill, if enacted, would drastically reduce Western New York’s ability to attract business and create jobs, especially in rural communities,” said the Assemblyman, referring to the provision of the legislation which requires all IDA projects to be “shovel-ready,” meaning the locality will have to have road, sewer and utility services already installed. As Hawley further explained, “This is a prospective cost that smaller cities, rural towns and suburban communities simply cannot afford. This bill would leave rural upstate, or 37 percent of the state’s population, out of the equation.”

Hawley and his colleagues, who also included Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R,C,I-Williamsville) and Assemblymen Thomas O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Marc Molinaro (R,C,I-Red Hook), outlined their opposition to the bill’s provisions to instate a prevailing wage for construction costs, as well as a living wage for all employees of the completed facilities; both measures which businesses would not agree to due to the excessively high costs, an increase estimated to be at 25 to 30 percent. The current IDA benefit given to companies is around 15 percent. Hawley explained, “The problem here is that this bill calls for employers to pay a higher wage to the employee, which doesn’t sound bad, except that coupled with the many other intrusive provisions in this bill and the fact that this makes it more expensive, employers simply will choose to do business with another state. So we must consider what is better: the current, livable wage or no wage at all?”

Another point of contention with the bill outlined by the officials was the fact that up until now, New York State’s opportunities for businesses, offered through IDAs and the Empire Zone Program, have been comparable to neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania. However, parts of the enacted 2009-10 State Budget have lessened incentives through the Empire Zone Program, while neighboring states have increased their business incentives and job creation benefits. Hawley stated, “on top of decreasing Empire Zone incentives, the state has increased the cost of health care, energy and insurance costs for businesses. This IDA bill will be the final nail in the coffin for businesses in New York State, and I strongly encourage members of the business community and concerned residents to contact the leadership in Albany to say ‘no’ to the IDA Death Bill.”