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					                   Brooklyn Agenda for Growth 2011




                              The Legislative Agenda
                                      of the
                          Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
                                      2011




Annual Albany Lobbying Trip
March 15, 2011



Presented by:

The Government Affairs Committee of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Peter M. Meyer, TD Bank, Chairman, Board of Directors
Carl Hum, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Antonia Yuille-Williams, Con Edison, Co-chair, Government Affairs Committee
Brad Korn, Continuum Health Partners, Co-chair, Government Affairs Committee
Gil Cygler, All Car Rent A Car, Vice-chair, Government Affairs Committee



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                            Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
                               2011 Agenda for Growth


The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is proud to present its 2011 Agenda for Growth. The positions
advanced herein reflect those issues and concerns most pressing to the Chamber membership.
Every year, through the Chamber’s Member Issues Survey, the Chamber polls its membership on a
variety of topics from their outlook on their respective businesses and the economy to the greatest
obstacles to growth. In 2010, 14% of our membership participated in the survey and found that the
top three obstacles to growth are health insurance costs, energy costs and general liability insurance
costs.

Despite these challenges, more than half of our respondents indicated that they are ready to hire
additional employees in 2011. Although this may demonstrate anecdotal evidence that the Great
Recession is behind us, even more hiring would be achieved—according to our membership—if
there were wage subsidies available to offset training and other employment costs.

While national and local indicators show that the economy has been slowly improving as evidenced
in local job growth, the Chamber maintains that the economy is still in a fragile state and the job
creation must be a top priority. The positions outlined below are aimed to maintain our job base,
stimulate business growth and improve our workforce – key elements to any economic recovery. We
look forward to working with our local legislators to help shape and influence those governmental
programs and activities that will achieve these results.




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 NYC PROJECTS AND ISSUES
Projects                                                                       Support Oppose Neutral
Wal-Mart – Proponents of Wal-Mart say opening a store in Brooklyn would
create needed jobs in Brooklyn and provide discounted merchandise to
consumers. Opponents of Wal-Mart say the store would hurt small
businesses and provides low wage jobs many of which have little or no room
for advancement. Would you support the opening of a Wal-Mart store in
Brooklyn?                                                                      36%       30%       27%
Street Closings/ Public Plazas – In the past few years, the Department of
Transportation has increased lanes for bicyclists and created open spaces
for public plazas. These measures have decreased the number of lanes for
vehicular use and in some cases, rerouted established truck routes.
Proponents say these modifications have enhanced the City's quality of life
and promote healthy lifestyles. Opponents charge it has hurt businesses
and increased local traffic. Do you support these infrastructure changes?      43%       29%       21%
Are there other projects you would like to see the Brooklyn Chamber consider?
     Getting M/WBE businesses into unions at a low-cost
     Greening initiatives: creating more community gardening and urban farms, and recycling food waste
     Increased City funding for job training/ workforce development
     Since small business borrowing is now based primarily on FICO scores, there needs to be better
        regulation to prevent just anybody from reporting negative events and easier mechanisms for people
        to remove (and keep off) unsupportive or erroneous negative reports


 QUALITY OF LIFE
To what degree are you               Percentage citing             Rank in    Rank in   Rank in   Rank in
concerned about the following        problem or severe   Current   2009       2008      2007      2006
quality of life issues?              problem             rank      (Top 3)    (Top 3)   (Top 3)   (Top 3)

Parking (availability/ violations)   76%                 1         (1) 69%    (2) 72%   (1) 79%   (2) 79%

Traffic (congestion)                 75%                 2         (2) 63%    (1) 73%   (2) 74%   (1) 80%
Potholes and poor street
conditions                           71%                 3         (3) 52%    (3) 64%   (3) 68%   (3) 70%

Rats, bed bugs and other vermin      66%                 4         –          –         –         –

Parking violations                   66%                 4         –          –         –         –

Litter                               57%                 5         –          –         –         –

Public safety and security           50%                 6         –          –         –         –

Graffiti                             50%                 6         –          –         –         –

Public transportation                47%                 7         –          –         –         –

Graffiti                             43%                 8         –          –         –         –
Pedestrian safety                    38%                 9
                                                                                                        3
                                                                             –           –         –          –

Bike and bus lanes                       37%                      10          –           –          –         –
Other (please specify): NYC DOB should be required to remove sidewalk encumbrances from construction sites;
maintain cleaner streets, particularly in business areas; tree line all Brooklyn streets for environment and property
value benefits


 OBSTACLES TO GROWTH
                                        Percentage
                                        citing problem                   Rank in     Rank in      Rank in     Rank in
                                        or severe            Current     2009        2008         2007        2006
Obstacles                               problem              rank        (Top 6)     (Top 6)      (Top 6)     (Top 6)
Increased cost of providing
health insurance for my
employees                               64%                  1           (1) 54%     (1) 55%      (2) 52%     (1) 62%
Fuel or energy costs (gas, diesel,
electric, oil, etc.)                    56%                  2           (2) 51%     (2) 51%      (1) 55%     (3) 54%

Cost of general liability insurance     52%                  3           (3) 49%     (3) 48%      (3) 50%     (2) 58%

Traffic/transportation problems         50%                  4           (5) 42%     (4) 46%      –           –

Workers’ Compensation costs             46%                  5           (6) 41%     (5) 44%      (4) 48%     –
Government regulations, fines
and violations                          45%                  6           (4) 44%     –            –           (5) 49%

Labor costs                             42%                  7           –           (6) 38%      –           –

Cost of real estate                     40%                  8           –           –            (5) 43%     (6) 48%
Finding/hiring reliable, qualified
workers                                 39%                  9           (4) 44%     –            (5) 43%     –
Access to credit/liquidity
problems                                38%                  10          (4) 44%     (6) 38%      (3) 50%     (4) 50%

Affordable housing for employees        37%                  11          –           –            (6) 41%     (4) 50%

Corporate taxes                         33%                  12          –           –            –           –

Real estate taxes                       32%                  13          –           –            –           –

Unemployment insurance                  31%                  14          –           –            –           –

Sales taxes (City, State)               28%                  15          –           –            –           –

Water and sewage charges                28%                  15          –           –            –           –
Finding available business
space/ real estate                      26%                  16          –           –            –           –


                                                                                                                        4
HEALTHCARE

Brooklyn’s healthcare industry and in particular, our hospital community is one of the
borough’s largest employers, providing one out of five private sector jobs. Many of our
hospitals treat individuals who are uninsured and/or have limited ability to pay, making
Medicaid the payer of last resort. For our healthcare community, cost containment remains a
top priority and that is why our agenda supports the efforts of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s
Medicaid Redesign Team.

Adopt Medicaid Redesign Team’s Recommendations—SUPPORT
In conjunction with the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Hospital Association of
New York State, the Chamber supports the recommendations of the Medicaid Redesign Ream
(MRT). The recommendations meet Governor Cuomo’s budget target of spending $52.8 billion
on Medicaid, a reduction of $982 million or 2% from the current year’s spending. Overall, the
recommendations aim to contain long-term care costs, promote efficiency and reduce
unnecessary costs? Two components of the MRT’s recommendations are particularly important
for Brooklyn’s hospital community.

Establish Medical Malpractice Caps—SUPPORT
New York State currently has no statutory caps on damages in medical malpractice claims. As
the Chamber has noted in previous years’ Agenda for Growth, rising medical malpractice
insurance costs have disproportionately burdened the hospital community’s budgets.
Throughout the State, hospitals spend $1.6 billion to cover medical malpractice expenses or
3% of their total revenue. A significant portion of these premiums goes towards obstetrical
cases where Medicaid is often the insurer for 50% of the deliveries and covers the medical costs
of a large portion of the children affected by neurological impairment both before and after
settlement or award. For Brooklyn hospitals, the ratio is larger as our borough has higher
birthrates in comparison to other counties across the State. The Chamber supports the
$250,000 medical malpractice cap on non-economic damage awards because it will reduce
hospital and physician premiums statewide by 24%.

Establish Neurologically Impaired Infant Indemnity Fund—SUPPORT
Capping medical malpractice non-economic awards will still need to be accompanied with a
mechanism to provide payments for medical expenses of affected children. Creating a
Neurologically Impaired Infant Indemnity Fund will fulfill this role where participation would be
mandatory and the fund could be capitalized by an assessment on all insurers’ gross premiums
or other sources including HCRA funds or some combination thereof. It is estimated that this
could reduce hospital costs by $320 million and produce additional savings to the State.




                                                                                                5
UTILITIES

Pass the Recharge New York Bill to Permanently Establish a Low-Cost Power Program to Create
and Retain Jobs—Support

The Recharge NY Bill (S3164/A5021) would double the amount of low-cost power available for
businesses and non-profits to 910 megawatts, enabling businesses across the State to access cheap
electricity and thereby, create jobs. Furthermore, this program could help revitalize the
manufacturing sector of New York’s economy that has lost 288,000 jobs over the past ten years.
Electric rates for businesses in New York are twice as high as rates in other states. New York's high-
energy costs are cited as a factor when New York-based companies decide whether to stay open or
expand, and when new companies decide where to invest.

Although the original Power for Jobs program began in 1997, it has been extended on a year-to-year
basis and has no permanent features. The Recharge NY bill would correct that would provide twice
the amount of wattage and businesses participating in the program would receive seven-year
commitments for their allocations of low-cost power. There would be no cost to the State for this
program. On March 9, the NYS Senate passed the Recharge NY bill. The Chamber urges the
Assembly to do the same.


HEALTH INSURANCE

Since 2004, Chamber Members have consistently cited the lack of affordable health insurance
as a key obstacle to business growth. Rising premiums eat away at business margins, and
some companies have been forced to drop coverage altogether. Businesses unable to provide
health benefits find it more difficult to recruit and retain key employees; workers lacking access
to health care are often less productive, which ultimately makes employers less successful and
competitive. Statewide, there are 2.5 million uninsured non-elderly residents; most are working
adults at small businesses. Despite the passage of federal health care reform in 2010, many
challenges remain to keep health insurance affordable and accessible for small businesses.

Pass Enabling Legislation for New Health Insurance Exchanges—SUPPORT
Federal health care reform calls for the formation of new state-level health insurance exchanges
to make the process of shopping for health insurance easier for consumers—especially small
business owners. States have the option to develop and run exchanges that address their
unique needs and markets; alternatively, the Federal government will operate them on their
behalf. The Chamber supports State-control of New York’s health insurance exchanges with a
robust role for both commercial and public health plans and urges prompt passage of enabling
legislation during the current legislative session.

Maintain Role of Insurance Brokers in New Health Insurance Exchanges—SUPPORT
Because many small businesses do not have dedicated human resources/benefits specialists,
they rely upon objective advice provided by independent insurance brokers to help them
navigate complex health insurance markets. Despite the goals of federal health care reform to
simplify and standardize available health insurance options, the current marketplace has
become even more complicated as business owners attempt to navigate new federal small
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business tax credits, mandates, and reporting requirements. To ensure that small businesses
continue receiving valuable services provided by insurance brokers, the Chamber supports an
active and visible role for brokers within the new health insurance exchanges and a mechanism
to fairly compensate them.

Maintain Role of Chambers of Commerce in New Health Insurance Exchanges—SUPPORT
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and a majority of upstate chambers of commerce have a
long tradition of serving the local business community with a variety of high-quality health
insurance services. Many sole proprietors, small businesses, and working individuals rely upon
their local chamber of commerce to provide trusted health insurance counseling, sales and
support to members of the community. Thus, it is imperative that chambers across the State
have an active role within the new health insurance exchanges and that they are allowed to
continue receiving compensation for the vital services they provide.

Eliminate State Health Insurance Mandates that Exceed New Federal Requirements—
SUPPORT
New State-mandated health services and benefits have increased the cost of health insurance
premiums for individuals and small businesses—forcing some employers to shift the costs of
the new requirements to their workers or drop coverage altogether. Federal healthcare reform
will establish a minimum set of benefits that all new health plans must provide. These
mandates will apply to all federally subsidized plans intended to make coverage more
affordable and accessible for the State’s 2.5 million uninsured. Any State-mandated benefits
above this new Federal floor will not receive subsidies, causing the State to cover 100% of these
costs.

Thus, the State has a unique opportunity to assess its current set of health insurance mandates.
At minimum, State mandates should not exceed the new Federal requirements and newly
proposed mandates, such as autism coverage, should not be enacted—especially not during
this time of transition as health insurance exchanges are developed. Small businesses cannot
afford the burden of the State’s current set of health insurance mandates. Moreover, the State
of New York is not in a financial position to pay for subsidized coverage above the new federal
floor.

Increase Funding for Healthy NY/Brooklyn HealthWorks—SUPPORT
Under the stewardship of the New York State Insurance Department (NYSID), Healthy NY
currently insures approximately 160,000 State residents. Brooklyn HealthWorks, the
Chamber’s private-label Healthy NY product tailored to meet the needs of small businesses in
Brooklyn, requires adequate funding to meet future program demands. Since the State began
providing funding for Brooklyn HealthWorks in October 2007, the Chamber has more than
quadrupled the number of small businesses enrolled in the program—from 123 to more than
625 small businesses in every corner of Brooklyn.

Because of consistent demand for Brooklyn HealthWorks, available State premium support was
exhausted as of November 2009. While the Chamber continues to enroll businesses in the
program at the full Healthy NY rate, the number of new groups signing onto Brooklyn
HealthWorks has slowed dramatically since the loss of premium support. Senator Montgomery
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and Assembly member Lentol introduced legislation (S1855/A2093) to increase such funding
and thereby, coverage of the uninsured. The Chamber encourages the passage of this bill.

Increase HCRA Taxes—OPPOSE

The Medicaid Redesign Team approved a recommendation to increase the Health Care Reform
Act (HCRA) tax annually by $99.2 million on providers of surgery and radiology services
delivered in ambulatory surgical centers and physicians offices that function as urgent care
centers. Health insurance premium taxes have increased 351% since the program was
implemented in 1997 and now costs New York consumers $2.3 billion each year. This tax
burden currently represents approximately 4% of each health care premium dollar. These
proposed new taxes will simply be passed along to purchasers of health insurance in the form of
higher monthly premiums. The Chamber is opposed to any new taxes that increase the cost of
health insurance for small businesses and other consumers in New York State.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Tailor the Excelsior Program to meet Small Business Needs—SUPPORT
Governor Cuomo’s budget encompasses many improvements to the Excelsior Jobs Program
that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce suggested in last year’s Agenda for Growth. However,
small businesses are still excluded from many of the program benefits, as program eligibility
still requires creation of 50 or more jobs. The Chamber encourages the program to consider
job creation goals that will enable more small businesses to participate.

Create a New York City-Centric Regional Economic Development Council—SUPPORT
The Chamber applauds the creation of the Regional Economic Development Councils and
encourages the Councils to adopt a broad range of public- private participation including small
and mid-sized businesses, workforce, education, and industry associations to steer the State’s
investment in economic development projects. It is imperative that chambers of commerce be
included in the Council and moreover, for a New York City-centric Council to be created.

Transfer Workforce Development responsibilities from DOL to ESDC—SUPPORT
Currently, workforce development programming is housed within the Department of Labor, the
agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing relevant labor laws and regulation. The
Chamber encourages transferring workforce development duties to ESDC so that training efforts
could be aligned with relevant job creation initiatives. The City of New York underwent a similar
change in 2003 and is now reaping the benefits of such a re-alignment. Moreover, such a move
will allow more transparency in job training and job creating mechanisms that are funded
through State workforce dollars.


WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Encourage Expansion and Access to Training—SUPPORT

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In order to best prepare New York’s incumbent, dislocated and emerging workforce for the skills
needed to obtain and advance in jobs, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce strongly supports
programs to enhance and upgrade workers skills, in line with the emerging industries in New
York State. STEM, professional services, healthcare and finance firms are poised to lead the
State’s job growth, and overlooking the fact of employee skills would put both new firms and
expanding firms at a disadvantage to access the skills it will take to innovate and lead. The
Chamber recommends focusing efforts on training new and incumbent workers to meet the
skills demand of the emerging state economy. On-the-Job training, incumbent worker training
grants, career pathway programs, education and business partnerships and employer led
middle skills training will help keep the State’s workforce trained and ready for job growth.



Align Job Creation, Job Training and Job Placement Goals with Economic Development Goals
– SUPPPORT
New York State must further align its job placement, job training and economic development
goals. Both programmatic and fiscal alignment must be obtained to ensure that the State is on
the right track to investing in business sectors that create jobs and add to the State’s tax base,
and link workforce development to economic development investment. Each of the State’s
significant sectors should be evaluated for long-term job growth and impact, similar to the
Excelsior Jobs programs, before the State invests its funding in job placement and training.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce also supports business assistance programs and agents to
help companies navigate workforce assistance as part of economic development initiatives.

Ensure Availability of Discretionary Funds for Regional Economic Competitiveness—SUPPORT
Similar to other competitiveness proposals by the administration, we encourage the New York
State Department of Labor to use its 15% discretionary funding toward direct competitiveness
programs, encouraging innovation and public private partnership, and alignment with the
State’s proposed economic development outcomes. Programs funding training should work in
tandem with the proposed outcomes that will be set forth by the Regional Economic
Development Councils led by the Lieutenant Governor, which would give localities more
oversight over their own region’s investment. Discretionary funds should encourage
competition and build in incentives for meeting performance base metrics and milestones.

Restore Funding to the Summer Youth Employment Program—SUPPORT
The proposed budget would eliminate $8.5 million in funding to support Summer Youth
Employment Programs statewide, effectively eliminating 5,500 youth employment slots this
year. For many youth, summer employment is their first experience in understanding the basic
needs to function in the workforce, and often leads to better attachment to long- term education
and employment. The Chamber strongly supports the continuation of the State’s funding
toward summer youth employment.




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