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New York ranks lowest in nation for construction policy environment, per ABC

In a revealing assessment by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), New York has been ranked as having the worst public policy environment for merit shop construction contractors.

According to the ninth annual Merit Shop Scorecard, New York placed 51st out of 51, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This scorecard evaluates the states based on various factors, including open competition, workforce development, and state laws and policies related to construction.

The 2023 scorecard gave New York failing grades in key areas such as project labor agreement policy, prevailing wage mandates, right-to-work laws, and public-private partnerships, while workforce development incentives received an ‘A’ and construction job growth a ‘C’.

Brian Sampson, President of the Associated Builders & Contractors, Empire State Chapter, expressed disappointment but not surprise at the ranking. He criticized the state legislature and Governor for enacting laws and regulations that increase construction costs and create difficulties for the industry.

Sampson highlighted the negative impact of these policies on major renewable energy and housing projects, which have been downscaled or abandoned due to the high cost of construction in New York. He called on Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie to take immediate corrective actions to lower construction costs, specifically targeting the frequent use of project labor agreements and prevailing wage mandates.

The Merit Shop Scorecard, part of the “Building America” initiative, is central to the merit shop philosophy, which promotes open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based on merit, regardless of labor affiliation. This philosophy underscores the importance of a fair and competitive environment for the construction industry, an area where New York is currently seen as lagging. The scorecard serves as a crucial tool for assessing state policies and their impact on the construction sector, highlighting areas where improvements are urgently needed to foster a more conducive environment for the industry’s growth and contribution to community development.