Press Release

Statement by Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan on the New York State Budget


April 2, 2020

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Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature yesterday announced the 2021 fiscal year State budget. Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) President James Whelan, issued the following statement on State budget agreement.

“As New York continues to confront the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, we thank Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders for working together to forge a timely budget agreement that keeps our State moving at such a challenging time.

REBNY supports the decision by State leaders to renew several effective economic incentive programs that will play a critical role in restarting economic growth throughout the five boroughs once the current crisis has passed. Among these key incentives are Relocation & Employment Assistance Program (REAP), which creates approximately 11,000 jobs per year according to the most recent available data, and the Energy Cost Savings Program, which reduces the cost of energy for commercial and industrial companies relocating outside of Manhattan’s central business district.

REBNY is also pleased with the decision by State leaders to help New York meet its climate goals by adding significantly more renewable energy resources and making immediate improvements to our renewable energy grid. These measures championed by the Governor and adopted by the Legislature will allow green energy projects to be built quickly, providing more sustainable options for building owners and their tenants.

However, we believe the expansion of construction prevailing wage was a mistake. REBNY represents those private sector entities that build with union contractors and workers. We are not against prevailing wage. However, math is math and the current manner in which construction prevailing wage is calculated in New York City bears no relationship to market reality. For example, a typical plumber in New York City costs around $100,000. If prevailing wage requirements apply, that position then costs over $210,000. At a time when we should focus on how to eventually restart economic activity, Albany has passed a provision that, when implemented, will lead to less work for both union and non-union construction.”

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association. Founded in 1896, REBNY represents commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, and salespeople; banks, financial service companies, utilities, attorneys, architects, and contractors; corporations, co-partnerships, and individuals professionally interested in New York City real estate. REBNY conducts research on various civic matters including tax policy, city planning and zoning, rental conditions, land use policy, building codes, and other city, state, and federal legislation. REBNY regularly publishes market data, policy reports, and broker surveys. In addition, REBNY provides for its members: informational, technical, and technological resources; networking and charitable service opportunities; qualifying and continuing education courses; professional education programs, seminars, and designations; career-changing awards; legal advice; and a wide range of additional member benefits. For more information, please visit