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Upstate Business And Trade Coalition Seeks Relief For Employers, Taxpayers In 2022 Agenda

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Business and trade organizations from across upstate are hoping Governor Kathy Hochul will address a number of items in the coming year that they say will bolster growth and reverse some troubling trends. Justin Wilcox is executive director of the non-partisan, pro-taxpayer coalition Upstate United, which is out with its 2022 agenda. He says the state needs to address a looming, massive unemployment insurance loan.

"It looks like right now, employers would be facing a $9 billion tax increase. Part of that is due to the borrowing the state had to do during the pandemic. But that's still a very real tax increase in the context of supply chain issues and labor force issues. We'd like to see some of those federal funds used to alleviate that burden, the same as other states have done."

In fact, more than half of states have used federal pandemic relief funds to pay off unemployment insurance debt. Wilcox says the coalition would also like to see an extension of the brownfield clean-up program, which he says has been very beneficial since its inception in 2005.

"That program has been responsible for a tremendous amount of development in Upstate New York, as well as environmental remediation. It's cleaned up a number of neighborhoods and created jobs."

Wilcox says there are indications that both the legislature and governor support the program extension, as well as alleviating the unemployment insurance burden. He says it helps that Hochul is an upstate native, and is keenly aware of the issues we face.

"She has signaled that there is no economic recovery until businesses recover. These two items are clearly going to be crucial to that recovery."

He says easing the burden on employers and taxpayers will help to stem New York’s job losses and outmigration, which continue to be some of the highest in the nation.

You can read more about the rest of Upstate United's agenda here.

Governor Hochul could address some of Upstate United’s concerns when she presents her State of the state speech Wednesday. Join WAER starting at 1:00 on 88.3 FM, streaming at WAER.org, or by telling your smart speaker to play WAER.