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Greater Binghamton Chamber unveils 2018 Legislative Agenda

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Leaders and advocates of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) unveiled the 2018 legislative agenda to its members Monday afternoon, at a revealing Upstate reception inside the Taste of New York center, Binghamton.  

At the event, speaking on behalf of the bi-partisan organization Unshackle Upstate, Greg Biryla, the Chamber of Commerce was shown a troubling statistic by non-partisan group Tax Foundation's research; New York is the highest taxed state in the entire U.S. Country.

"It's incredibly difficult to attract new business...it's very difficult for taxpayers to afford to raise a family in New York State. Tax structure and tax climate in NY make this all very difficult," said Greg Biryla.

Working alongside the GBCC and Unshackle Upstate, who represent over 80 business and trade organizations, local leaders are trying to reform Albany in a way that will help drive the Southern Tier's economy to become a model for the rest of NY.

According to GBCC President, Jennifer Conway, there are three issues facing business leaders in the Southern Tier are; having the skilled workforce they need, suffering from high taxes, too many mandates and regulations when it comes to owning a business.

"If we could just fix those three main issues, we would have a booming economy," said Jennifer Conway.

Conway and her constituents said they are calling on the Legislation in Albany to practice a more disciplined spending approach. Seeing an additional $1 billion dollars in taxes, due to health premiums from employers, and the possibility of revoking the Brownfield Tax Credit (which encourages developers to cleanup and re-use contaminated or blighted sites and receive certain tax exemptions), the GBCC said it's only a matter of time before everyone is affected, if Albany doesn't tighten their spending habits.

And some business owners have already begun exploring opportunities outside the State, after feeling the squeeze in Albany. According to Joe Mirabito, Chief Executive Officer of Mirabito Energy Products, most of the profits from his business come from states other than New York, and it's causing many people to leave in order to find a sustainable lifestyle. Joe Mirabito said, if elected officials had an opportunity to "walk in our shoes" and witness the consequences of Albany's action, it's possible to reform many inconsistencies in the local economy.

But some local companies say they're capable of growing, it's just a problem with workforce development and not finding enough qualified candidates to fill positions. If New York State focused more on training people and providing a supportive environment through local business opportunities, instead of merely supporting them and causing people to rely on the State/Federal Government from their homes, President and CEO of Willow Run Foods, Terry Wood, thinks the Southern Tier's local economy would improve, thus getting people to build a life right here in Broome County.

"It's so difficult to inspire people to work today. It's easy for them to stay home and collect funds. But the people that want to work are working, unfortunately they aren't here anymore," said Terry Wood.

And due to the increasing rates for New York taxpayers the crisis of people fleeing the state will continue until leaders in Albany create a climate conducive to economic growth by lowering taxes and letting economies at a local level provide the means for statewide improvement.

"Let the economy do its work, instead of having to come up with announcements and programs that are the government funding our growth. That's not going to be sustainable," said Jennifer Conway.