BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The upstate business community is out with its priorities for this year’s state legislative session in Albany, and again it’s mostly playing defense.

The Greater Binghamton Chamber held its annual legislative agenda rollout last week.

The Chamber wants the state to cover its unemployment insurance fund debt through the budget, rather than passing the cost on to businesses.

It’s also concerned about indexing the minimum wage to inflation as well as the unknown costs of the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Justin Wilcox is the Executive Director of Upstate United, a business advocacy group made up of trade associations and upstate chambers.

Wilcox says his group is left fighting for the lesser of 2 evils when it comes to the minimum wage, by backing Governor Hochul’s proposal to raise it statewide to $15/hour and then index it to inflation with a cap at 3%.

An alternate proposal by lawmakers would raise it above $20, and index it without a cap.

As for the CLCPA, Wilcox says the state hasn’t estimated the cost of the environmental regulations, nor devoted any funding to its implementation, leaving the Public Service Commission to pay for electricity projects through statewide rate hikes.

Wilcox says upstate shouldn’t shoulder the burden because 90% of electricity upstate comes from carbon-free sources.

“Our electricity, for the most part, is from renewables, zero emission. We get it mostly from hydro or nuclear. We have those zero emissions energy resources. They don’t have those downstate. Downstate is the opposite. They are 9% zero emissions. So, really upstate New York is subsidizing downstate.”

Also during last Friday’s event, local business and non-profit leaders got to have roundtable discussions with local elected officials, including Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Assemblyman Joe Angelino, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar, Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham and a representative for State Senator Lea Webb.