What can't be lost in all of the debate regarding the state budget (we're still waiting) is the push in Albany for "reform" of the IDA systems - reform that would impose costly wage mandates on companies that receive IDA incentives. In the midst of lobbying for higher taxes on the state's "wealthy" (aka small businesses), labor is currently turning up the heat on State Senators for passage of the burdensome and job-killing IDA bill.
This bill has been out for a number of years now. We've obviously opposed it, and with the help of the former Republican State Senate majority, were able to defeat it every time. Unfortunately, being held hostage in the battle has been the right for IDAs to provide benefit to schools, hospitals and nursing homes - an un-renewed provision that is holding up over $2B in projects statewide (and countless more in stimulus money that NYS could be spending right now). Through it all, though, while we've used projections and think-tank studies to discuss the impact of the bill - we've been looking for that one piece of juicy fodder that would without question back it all up.
We've got it. In January, after two years of the Ulster County (New Paltz) IDA existing under a prevailing wage policy and receiving ZERO projects, the IDA board voted to suspend the policy for one year. Today is April 3 - since the suspension on January 28, Ulster County has already taken on three new projects, one of which is already completed. Pretty strong message that wage mandates are a deterrent to private sector investment.
Doing policy work, I spend a lot of time researching what the other side is saying, and I am consistently astounded. You need to look no further than the NYS AFL-CIO home page to understand what advocates of economic development are facing here. About half-way down the page, they talk about how they oppose the bill that authorizes IDAs to incentivize civic facilities (the aforementioned hospitals, schools, etc.) - remember, over $2B worth of projects that would put their members to work ($112MM in Erie and Niagara Counties) are at stake. Moreover, they call for a moratorium on ALL IDA projects until they get what they want.
So let's get this straight... In an economy where people are losing jobs, and we're (supposedly) doing everything we can as a nation to create more jobs, including pouring trillions of dollars from Washington into the economy in the form of "stimulus," the AFL-CIO of NYS wants to not only hinder, but completely halt, a program that is designed specifically to create jobs? Sometimes I think I'm oversimplifying that notion - but it's the reality. AFL-CIO members could be at work on over $2B worth of projects right now that are being held up in Albany with their leadership's support. It's very difficult to comprehend.
We're putting a lot of effort right now into urging Senator Stachowski to oppose this ridiculous state budget. But we have to give him credit for forwarding an IDA bill (S.2898) that would actually put people to work. Do you know how many jobs $2B in projects would create? Why oppose it?