State of the State
The NYS 2022 Legislative Session opened with Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State Address on January 5, 2022 in the NYS Assembly Chamber, marking the first time in a decade that a sitting Governor held the State of the State in the Chamber. Hochul outlined her “New Era for New York” agenda, which includes 228 new initiatives to support New York’s comeback, including but not limited to:
• $10 Billion Healthcare Plan Will Rebuild and Grow Workforce, Deliver Direct Payments to Workers
• Major Ethics Reforms Will Limit Statewide Elected Officials to Two Terms, Ban Outside Income, and Replace JCOPE with New Independent Ethics Agency
• Billion Dollar Rescue Plan Will Help Small Businesses Come Back, Middle Class Tax Relief Will Lift Up Millions of New Yorkers
• Infrastructure Investments Will Expand Transit in New York City and Lead the Nation in Climate Action
Executive Budget Proposal
On January 18th, Governor Hochul released her $216 billion Executive Budget Proposal, focusing on a “post-pandemic future.” Hochul was in an enviable position, with $7 billion in surplus cash, due to stronger than expected sales and income tax collections, and generous federal aid packages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hochul outlined her plan for the surplus money including $2 billion for property tax relief; $2 billion for pandemic recovery initiatives, which could include emergency rental relief; $1 billion to broaden the state’s multi-year, $32.8 billion capital plan for bridges, roads, and new infrastructure projects; $1 billion toward the health care industry; $1.2 billion in bonuses for health care and frontline workers; and $350 million for pandemic relief for business, theater, and the musical arts. Small business organizations are already lobbying for a significant portion of the surplus money to provide relief to the Unemployment Insurance system to help lower UI taxes on businesses and also address the State’s significant UI debt problem.
In addition to participating in the Budget process, The Vandervort Group will continue to work on NRLA’s priority issues, including the following:
Thanks to the collective efforts of many statewide construction-related associations, under the strong leadership of Curtis Lumber and the Saratoga Builders Association, we have created the “Construction Trades Workforce Development” initiative to bring attention to the need for skilled workers in the construction field. We have developed a white paper that will be widely used in our legislative efforts to support a bill that has been introduced in the NYS Senate and NYS Assembly by the Education Committee Chairs. The bill, A.5190(Benedetto)/S.919(Mayer) relates to the salaries of certain teachers and aides employed by boards of cooperative educational services.
I am also happy to report that the Governor has included $350 million toward Workforce Development as a priority issue in the budget. We will work throughout the Budget process to advance our construction trade initiative. We will be coordinating grassroots outreach, so be on the look-out for Action Alerts from the Legislative Department.
We have a focused strategy this session on a law relating to payments in construction contracts. The law, which we supported along with the contractors and subcontractors, dealt with how to best define substantial completion. As stated in the Sponsor’s Memo of the bill, “The ambiguity in existing law relative to the definition of completion and release of retainage leads to unnecessary disputes, thereby delaying the release of final retainage payments.” Our goal this session will be to make an amendment to the law that allows retainage applied to materials supplied and accepted to be considered upon delivery as substantially complete for the purposes of release of retainage so long as the lumber is graded or the materials have a warranty. We will be working with the contractor groups and the Legislature to try to address this outstanding issue once and for all in 2022.
Pay When Paid Law
Lastly, we will be engaging in conversations with the Tax Department to re-visit the “now famous” ‘Pay-When-Paid’ law. It has been over 20 years since it was enacted into law, so we thought a conversation with the Tax Department would be in order to discuss increasing the overall threshold established in 1998.