Republicans and Democrats this week in the New York state Legislature are offering competing plans for helping businesses as the pandemic has led to continued uncertainty for employers in New York. 

On one end, Republicans are pushing measures to tackle inflation as well as to improve the state's tax climate, which has long been blamed as a factor in people leaving the state for other parts of the country. Democrats in the state Senate, meanwhile, are planning measures meant to ease pandemic-related burdens on businesses. 

The proposals come as the state's unemployment rate has slowly recovered in the 21 months since measures were first put place to close public gathering places and many businesses in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the initial weeks of the pandemic. New York shed 2 million jobs during that time and, so far, has recovered about two-thirds of them. 

New York's hospitality and tourism sectors have been hit especially hard and are yet to fully recover. 

Democrats in the state Senate this week are expected to advance provisions to free increases in unemployment insurance taxes for businesses in 2022 and 2023. The bill would also increase the employee unemployment benefit by 2%. The proposal has been a key issue for business groups that have raised the issue in the weeks leading up to the return of lawmakers to Albany. 

Republicans, meanwhile, called for efforts to cut taxes and regulations while also addressing inflation that has been a factor in the economy across the country in recent months as pandemic-related demand has skyrocketed for goods.

Republican state Sen. Tom O'Mara blamed the flow of people out of the state on the business climate. New York's population has stagnated over the decade and the state is due to lose a congressional seat this year.

“It’s no coincidence that our state led the nation last year in overall tax burden and population loss," O'Mara said. "Hundreds of thousands of our fellow New Yorkers are heading for the exits, and they’re going to Florida, South Carolina, and other low-tax states. It’s not the weather – it’s the tax-and-spend policies levied by Democrat One-Party Rule in our state. New York is at a crossroads for our economic future, and we must enact our affordability agenda to meet the moment. Together, we can finally End the Exodus."

In the state Assembly, Republicans there called for a two-year sales tax holiday on a variety of consumer goods. Average savings for a family of four could hit $513 under the proposal, GOP lawmakers said. 

“We’re seeing the worst inflation in four decades and people have grown tired of it. Food, clothing, utilities, transportation – prices are rising on almost everything. How much more are New Yorkers supposed to take?” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. “Our proposal will give all New Yorkers a measure of financial relief during an extremely difficult time. New York is in a strong financial position where revenues have exceeded expectations. Let’s pass on some needed savings to people who have fought through a pandemic and are now dealing with a crushing cost-of-living crisis that’s being felt in every community.”