Governor Cuomo recently unveiled his economic plan aimed at changing our state identity. Why try to change our state identity? Because, as we all know, many people around the country think that we are the highest taxed and most expensive state in the union.
The problem is that in both accounts, these observations are right. We are the highest taxed state and one of the most expensive places to live in the country. We don’t need an identity change; we need policy change.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks after signing New York's Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act into law during a ceremony in the Red Room at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Jumping out ahead of Washington, New York enacted the nation's toughest gun restrictions Tuesday and the first since the Connecticut school shooting, including an expanded assault-weapon ban and mandatory background checks for buying ammunition. (Credit: AP)
Unfortunately, the Governor’s economic plan is nothing more than crony capitalism and government intervention picking winners and losers. This method of “economic development” has been attempted for ages here in New York and all it has successfully done is keep the friends of the administration happy. We are living with the results of these tried and failed economic policies now and the results are not good.
You can review the Governor’s plan for yourself here. As you will see, it is a multi-tiered plan which conceals a host of problems.
The first part of the plan is to create tax free zones. These zones will be centered over SUNY campuses upstate. A tax free zone occurs when a business started in said zone pays no income or property tax. In addition the employees do not have to pay taxes.
The second part of the plan requires that participating companies work with the college’s academic mission. That means you can be exempt from taxes as long as you are close to the school administration and/or their mission.
The third and final part of the plan is to expand on the regional development councils. The regional development councils were no more than a state sponsored venture capitalist group that spent tax dollars on projects that they thought would bring in jobs.
While this plan may appease some of the Governor’s friends, it means something quite different for people like you and me. Don’t forget that these “tax free zones” have to be paid for. You cannot take property off the tax rolls without raising taxes somewhere else. At the end of the day, all the Governor is going to do is raise property taxes on those people who are already hard-pressed to pay their taxes. The only people who stand to benefit are the existing influential few who have money to spare.
What happens to those businesses that have to pay more taxes to subsidize the new ones in their communities? What happens to the neighborhoods that have to pay higher property taxes because the new business park is exempt? What happens to all the existing buildings that have tenants leave for the tax free zone?
I would like the Governor to address all those questions. I don’t think he wants to answer them. He just wants to be able to say he cut taxes. And technically he can.
The simple truth is we need real tax reform. We need a flat rate income tax, we need a lower sales tax and we need a more efficient streamlined government. But most of all we need to open our state to new ideas in the world of energy exploration and we need hydraulic fracturing now.
Energy exploration is not mentioned in the Governor’s plan once . Hydraulic fracturing, or “Fracking,” which could and should be the corner stone of reviving the upstate economy, is not addressed.
Our state is in desperate need of a real economic boost to help all New Yorkers, not smoke and mirrors that are only going to help a few.
New York needs new ideas. Unfortunately, the Governor’s economic plan only offers us more of the same.
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