Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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June 15, 2013

Albany's session ends with lots of flash, doesn't address recent bad news


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Since he proposed the tax-free zones, opposition has risen against what critics claim would be a two-tiered New York: some not paying taxes on the uncertain bet they will stick around after 10 years and the vast majority of New Yorkers still paying the nation's highest taxes.

Meanwhile, Cuomo and his allies continue to stress numbers that show hope.

"While we are still recovering from the 2009 recession, New York has more private sector jobs than in any time in history," said Kenneth Adams, commissioner of the Empire State Development Corp. "This administration is committed to improving New York's business climate and fostering growth in our economy."

Supporters of Cuomo's liberal policy agenda are energized after waiting for decades for action, while past governors became mired in mostly unsuccessful attempts to turn around the economy.

"These proposals do distract attention from what others may think are deeper priorities — which is the economy and taxes — but the economy is beyond the power of the government in many ways," said professor Doug Muzzio, a political scientist at Baruch College. "These are very important proposals and we live in a real, very politically, incrementally bound world here. If you get a piece of this agenda that's listed and the pieces do what is intended, c'mon, that's pretty good!"

It is here where Cuomo's twin priorities of "jobs, jobs, jobs," and making New York "the progressive capital of the world" can conflict.

"When you look at campaign finance reform, you look at women's equality, the casinos — none of that is going to fix the economy of upstate New York," said Brian Sampson of the Unshackle Upstate business group.

His group was an early supporter of Cuomo's tax-free proposal but is concerned now that details are being revealed, including union protections and other restrictions that can turn off prospective employers. He notes that increasing the minimum wage and extending a $2 billion a year income tax on the highest earners and a corporate power tax that were set to expire also send the wrong signals to employers.

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