ALBANY – New York State Senator George Borrello, along with members of the Senate Republican Conference, unveiled a package of legislation Tuesday to help New York’s Restaurant and Hospitality Industry.
Borrello says the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for all New Yorkers and crippled the economy – in particular our restaurants and hospitality businesses in New York State.
The Senator says hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers work in this industry, including many hourly and tipped wage employees, and wait staff, bartenders, and hotel workers have counted heavily toward the state’s skyrocketing unemployment numbers since the onset of the pandemic last year. State coffers have also suffered, as the hospitality industry is the number one source of sales tax revenue in New York City, and number two in the state.
“Unfortunately, our Governor does not seem to understand how important these restaurants, hotels, and their employees are to making our economy function,” Borrello said. “Using his executive authority, the Governor has put extremely damaging and burdensome restrictions on the industry without outlining any plan for how government will help reverse the damage it created.”
“The Senate Democrats have been a voiceless non-entity in this situation, devoid of any plan of their own or proactive initiative to help. It’s high time state government – including the State Senate – roll up our sleeves and begin to restart, rethink, and renew our commitment to restaurants and hospitality businesses to make our State thrive again.”
WNY News Now asked Borrello, following the press conference, whether or not the Republican have received support on the legislation from the Democrats.
“Many members of both parties have recognized the need,” Borrello said via text message. “This collection of bills will give them an opportunity to support things that the industry support.”
The cornerstone of the package of legislation advanced by the Senate Republicans today includes a comprehensive bill, sponsored by Senator Borrello, to provide relief to business owners and employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would:
- Exempt small businesses from being penalized with higher unemployment insurance rates due to layoffs resulting from COVID-related, government-mandated closures. The exemption would extend for a period of one year from when they are permitted to return to full capacity;
- Prohibit internet-based food delivery services from charging higher fees than they charged on or before March 1, 2020;
- Provide small businesses additional time to pay monthly sales and payroll taxes, as well as, business and property taxes;
- Offer interest-free loans or lines of credit to small businesses;
- Provide a one year extension for renewal of liquor licenses; and
- Provide businesses a 90 day grace period to pay any fees or penalties due to state and local agencies.
Also included in the plan announced by the Senate Republican Conference were pieces of legislation that would:
- Direct SLA-inflicted fines into a business relief fund to help small businesses get back on their feet (Senator Mike Martucci);
- Provide for a credit on liquor license renewals for the amount of time bars and restaurants were forced to be shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Senator Joseph Griffo);
- Create a limited state sales tax exemption for the sale of food and drink at restaurants and taverns from state sales and compensating use taxes and granting municipalities the option to grant such limited exemption (Senator Daphne Jordan);
- Provide a tax check off box that will direct funds into a business relief fund (Senator Mario Mattera); and
- Create an employee retention tax credit, modeled after the Federal Employee Retention Credit, to help employers keep workers on payroll (Senator Peter Oberacker).