Legislature Must Jump-Start New York’s Economy

A legislative column by Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C-Meco)

As New York state begins the process of re-opening certain regions, there is also talk of re-convening the state Legislature. If and when the Legislature returns, either virtually or back in Albany, jump-starting our state’s economy should be one of our top priorities.

The COVID-19 health crisis has impacted the U.S. more severely than any other country around the globe. And with more than 300,000 confirmed cases, New York state has paid a high price in the number of people infected and the tragedy of lives lost.

To help contain the spread of the virus, thousands of businesses were required to close by the state. From farms to factories, and every business in between, employers and employees did their civic duty in the name of protecting public health and safety. The economic and individual costs have been staggering, and now those same businesses and employees deserve every bit of assistance the state government can provide to get them up and running again.

Decisive steps must be taken by our state to facilitate our region-by-region re-opening and recovery. To that end, the Assembly Minority Conference has put together an economic plan to assist New York’s working men and women whose small businesses are our best job creators.

Our “Jump-Start New York” initiative provides a blueprint for economic relief in the short term and much-needed stability in the long term. Through federal and state actions, the plan offers financial relief and protections to small businesses and their employees. It removes costly regulatory burdens that stifle growth and opens doors for employers to receive critical assistance that will allow them to survive and succeed.

The plan recommends a range of state actions that can help pave the road to recovery, including creating a state business and not-for-profit recovery loan program to help small businesses and utilizing the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) as vehicles for immediate economic recovery efforts instead of general economic development purposes.

In addition to cutting regulatory red tape, the plan recommends implementing the provisions of the “Small Business Emergency Recovery Act of 2020” that our Conference proposed as part of the state budget. This action uses any money from unallocated state settlements to support small businesses and REDC local recovery efforts, as well as repurposing and utilizing funding for state capital programs to jump-start the economy.

Coordinated federal actions recommended in the plan include: directing future federal stimulus money to local governments and school districts to offset increased costs and the loss of tax revenue associated with COVID-19; capping unemployment insurance premiums; expanding the zero-percent interest rate to all Small Business Administration loans similar to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with interest paid by the federal government; and providing stimulus relief to sole proprietorships and LLCs that are unable to seek relief under existing programs.

The scale and severity of our current fiscal condition is unprecedented, and our people are feeling tremendous pressure. A commitment from state government to remove roadblocks that stand in the way of restoring lost jobs and creating the new jobs our economy needs will send a strong and clear message to the business community.

When the Legislature returns, we should use the proposals outlined above and all the tools at our disposal to jump-start New York’s economic engine. Business owners and employees need to know that help is on the way. The economic health of New York state hinges on the success and prosperity of the small business community.