It's been a tough year for small business in New York. As if starting off in the state with the nation's second-highest cost of doing business and the most challenging economy since the Great Depression weren't enough, we saw record spending and tax hikes come out of Albany that will increase costs for virtually every New Yorker. Already struggling small business owners will be paying higher taxes and fees and more expensive health insurance and energy bills as a result, and at the worst possible time.
The defeat of the job-killing proposal to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores was one key victory for small business. However, supporters of this flawed proposal are back at it again, and even though they have rebranded it, this idea is not like a fine wine; it doesn't get better with age.
Small business is the heart and soul of our economy. It accounts for most of the private sector employment in New York, and is responsible for most new job creation. Far beyond simple economic impact, small businesses define communities across our state. We need to be advancing policies that support them and foster their growth. Changing the rules midstream to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores would imperil the survival of many liquor stores, each of which in New York is a small, independent business.
If you can think of a business, chances are the National Federation of Independent Business has a member doing it. Our diverse membership includes liquor stores, farmers, grocers, convenience store owners, wineries and everything in between. The NFIB is unique in that our members directly determine our positions on key issues through our member ballot, with every member getting an equal voice. Earlier this year, we asked our members about wine in grocery stores, and 67 percent opposed it.
After wine in grocery stores was resoundingly rejected by the Legislature earlier this year, the latest incarnation of this proposal attempts to shore up support by making a number of changes to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control law to give liquor stores more flexibility in exchange for allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores. The NFIB shared the new language with our impacted members to get their reaction and determine if it would alter our position, and not one member who responded indicated it would soften their opposition.
Plain and simple, this proposal is still bad news for small business. It will not create new jobs, and will jeopardize the existence of small, independent liquor stores. Some point to the $120 million in revenue the state projects it might receive from new permit fees if this proposal were to go forward. What about the loss of jobs and revenue from liquor stores that might well be shuttered as a result? Albany should not be trying once again to balance its bloated budget on the backs of small businesses. Liquor stores already took a major budget hit this year with a new "floor tax" that has driven up their tax bills by hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars.
The Legislature got it right the first time. Wine in grocery stores is wrong. Small business in New York is already under fire. We are looking to the Legislature to once again do the right thing by standing up for entrepreneurs and job creators and saying no to wine in grocery stores.
Mike Elmendorf is the New York State director of the NFIB.