Chamber Prez Testifies Against "Prevailing Wage" Bill

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carl Hum testified on May 11, 2010, before the Committee on Finance of the New York City Council in opposition to Intro No. 18-A, proposed legislation requiring building owners and managers receiving public funds directly or indirectly (i.e., through rent payments) to pay prevailing wages to all building service employees.  Following is his testimony:

Good morning Chairman Recchia and members of the Finance Committee.  My name is Carl Hum and I am the president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.  We thank the Council for this opportunity to testify on Intro No. 18-A.

It was only a matter of days ago that the Chambers of Commerce stood together with the Council leadership and Bloomberg Administration to celebrate the recommendations of the Regulatory Reform Panel to ease costly burdens on small businesses.  Yet, here we are today, shaking our heads in collective disbelief over Intro No. 18-A, which will only pull the plug on economic activity and job creation.

The cost of doing business in New York City is already high enough.  In a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of New York State, our state ranks almost dead last – 49 out of 50 states – for business-friendly climate.  And according to a report by the Citizens’ Budget Commission, local taxes make New York City a particularly high-tax liability locality, more than twice as high as in Westchester County.  Intro No. 18-A is just another job-killing piece of legislation that will burnish the region as unfriendly if not hostile to business. 

In recognition of these high costs, the City and State created numerous incentive programs over the past several years including the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program, the Commercial Expansion Program and the Energy Cost Savings Program – to name but a few – to specifically ease the financial burdens of doing business in our region.  In fact, many of these incentive programs already incorporate public benefit requirements from program participants ranging from capital investment, job creation and location.  Intro No. 18-A would only add another onerous, non-negotiated quid-pro-quo that neither the State nor City legislatures demanded when the individual incentive programs were first created.  

Moreover, with its broad-based, low financial-assistance threshold of $10,000, Intro No. 18-A will affect many small business recipients who sorely need these incentives to survive during tough economic times.  For example, under Intro No. 18-A, many industrial and manufacturing businesses – a sector that the Council and Administration have taken great pains in assuring its future in New York City – would be adversely affected as financial-assistance programs, such as the Energy Cost Savings Program or the Industrial Business Zone Relocation Tax Credit exclusively serves this population.  Intro No. 18-A is indeed the legislative embodiment of giving with one hand while taking with the other.

In conclusion, we respectfully ask this Committee to reject the false promises this bill conveys of equality for building service workers because it will adversely impact struggling small businesses, its employees and clients.