Start up or start over? Assemblyman trounces Cuomo’s “tax free” plan
BY KATHY KAHN
Start-Up New York–the economic program the Legislature passed it into law (S5903-2013) before it left for summer break–has Assemblyman Kieran Lalor raising a ruckus over its cost.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had been touring the state with the message that it would not cost New Yorkers a nickel to finance the SUNY campus/tax free business incentive plan.
Truth be told, there’s more than just “nickel and diming” when it comes to the cost of the initiative to bring new start-up or relocating businesses to SUNY campuses: The NYS Office of the Budget says will cost the state $323 million over the next three years. Cuomo made the announcement in the early evening of Friday, August 2, just one more reason Dutchess County Assemblyman Lalor (R-C-I-Fishkill) is calling the economic plan into question.
“It’s a slap in the face to New York business owners and the taxpayers for the governor to tell us the program isn’t going to cost anything,” said Lalor, “then, he reveals this budget information last Friday (Aug. 2) after 6 p.m.; it appears he was gambling on it being lost in a summer weekend traffic jam.”
While Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Clarkstown) concurs Cuomo’s timing “could have been better” when announcing the $323 million cost to the state to deliver Start-Up New York to the state’s economic toolkit, Zebrowski believes the program “is in its infancy and is truly intended to bring start-up companies to SUNY campuses to partner with them and create jobs” and believes the economic program should be given a chance to flap its fledging wings before it’s shot down.
“The idea is to incentivize start-up tech business to start here, stay here and lay the groundwork to foster the economy by partnering with our SUNY system in training and education of our workforce,” said Zebrowski.
“Start-Up New York….does have residual positive effects—people will need housing, buy from local merchants and contribute to county and federal taxes,” added Zebrowski, “but there’s no doubt we have to keep a close eye on it and be sure it is having a positive effect. I don’t know how the Office of the Budget arrived at a cost of $323 million, but it’s certainly something I am going to investigate and report back to my constituents.”
For Lalor, it’s just another example of “three men in a room—Sheldon Silver, Andrew Cuomo Dean Skelos or his stand-in…Nothing has changed in Albany. The system is entrenched in cronyism, and Cuomo is just another player despite his repertoire of jokes and blustery delivery. Start-Up New York’s multi-million dollar underlying costs—the fact that we have lost more jobs in the past six months than any state in the nation—and the notion this so-called ‘tax free’ economic program will attract businesses to the least-friendly to business state in the U.S.—is not based on reality.”
Cuomo, who espouses open communication and “complete” transparency—and has been prolific in regard to press releases, even on the most miniscule of subjects—did not put pen to paper concerning his reaction to the Office of the State Budget’s $323 million calculation of the program he is pushing across the state.
Morris Peters, spokesman for the NYS Division of the Budget, spoke on behalf of Cuomo’s office: “Start-Up works because SUNY property is already tax free, and local communities would not lose out on revenue. We’ve consistently said the only entity that would potentially lose out on revenue is the state and out-year revenue projections would be readjusted to reflect that. That, along with a $272 million reduction in next year’s deficit, was included in this most recent budget update.”
Voters, be prepared to see the Legislature, the governor and his cohort come out with their boxing gloves on, not just ready to duke it out over Start-Up NY, but to fight for or against the referendum on the November ballot to legalize gambling in New York, a subject the voters seem to be split on—with more leaning against it than for it at this writing.