NY’s unfriendliness to business is about more than taxes

While there can be debate about how much New York is working to improve its friendliness to business, the fact remains that the state ranks poorly on most rankings of tax and business climates.

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think tank, ranks New York 49th out of 50 states in its 2017 tax climate rankings. The state ranks seventh in the country for its corporate tax rates, so its poor ranking is largely due to individual income tax, unemployment insurance tax and property tax ranks.

A 2017 ranking by CNBC of the top states for business ranks New York 38th overall. The CNBC ranking is especially useful because it includes rankings of workforce (New York ranks 39th out of 50 states), infrastructure (New York ranks 45th), cost of doing business (New York ranks 47th), business friendliness (New York ranks 45th) and cost of living (New York ranks 49th).

The CNBC ranking suggests costs aren’t New York’s only problem. New York needs to do a better job of having a workforce with a higher education level and an ability to retain college-educated or otherwise qualified workers, lessen the legal and regulatory burden on businesses, and do more to drive down the cost to live in New York state.

We see some of that here in the North Country. Politicians’ mantra used to be “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but lately, private employers are saying they have plenty of jobs to offer but have a hard time finding qualified workers.

That’s partly why state Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, held a roundtable this week with leaders of the four colleges in his district, discussing what they need to be the best they can be at turning out our future workforce.

Taxes are too high in New York state, but taxes shouldn’t be seen as the only reason businesses leave. As the CNBC ranking attests, the state has a lot of problems to work on before it can be considered friendly to business.