Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today detailed the major accomplishments for Upstate New York that passed the State Legislature in the last days of the legislative session in Utica at Mohawk Valley Community College. From the innovative Start-Up NY program, a plan to bring resort destinations with casino gaming, and the establishment of a Financial Restructuring Board to help fiscally distressed local governments, communities across Upstate stand to benefit in a major way from the legislation passed at the end of this years session.
This has been one of the most productive legislative sessions on record for communities in Upstate New York, Governor Cuomo said. Over the past two years, weve changed the economic development paradigm from an Albany-top-down model to a jobs agenda built from the ground up. This year, we put those efforts into high gear. From lowering middle class taxes to their lowest rates in sixty years to launching innovative tech-transfer initiatives and investing in higher education, it has already been a banner year for upstate economic development. We ended this years session with not one but three major initiatives to jumpstart the economy Start-Up NY to create tax-free communities to attract new business, a plan to establish four Upstate destination gaming resorts to boost tourism, and a Financial Restructuring Board to help struggling localities manage their finances. For years, Albany has not given Upstate New York the attention it deserves, but with the achievements of this legislative session, there can be no doubt that those days are over and gone.
Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, A challenging economy requires creative concepts and dramatic action from its leaders. The Governors recent proposals and legislative action will help create a business friendly environment to attract and retain middle class jobs with a focus on improving Upstates economy, boosting tourism and local tax revenue along with the opportunity to assist struggling local governments through optional use of the Financial Restructuring Board to establish solid fiscal standing. I applaud the Governor for his attentiveness and responsiveness to Upstates concerns and needs.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said, I commend Governor Cuomo for prioritizing the revitalization of the Upstate economy. The Governors accomplishments from this years legislative session will be driving forces of the recovery of local economies throughout the region. Under the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, Start-Up NY, and the Governors Financial Restructuring Board and binding arbitration reforms, Upstate communities are seeing a fundamental shift in the economic landscape. These initiatives will have a tremendous impact on the Mohawk Valley economy and will put Upstate New York back on the map.
Steve DiMeo, President of Mohawk Valley EDGE and a member of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council said, For too long, the Upstate economy has lagged far behind its full potential. Governor Cuomo recognizes this, and has put forward an aggressive plan to counter this reality. Under the Start-Up NY proposal, the Governor is giving new and existing businesses an opportunity to take advantage of all that Upstate has to offer, but without having to worry about the burden of paying state taxes. Much has happened to reverse New Yorks high-tax reputation since Governor Cuomo came into office, and the Start-Up NY program is the latest big step forward. This program is a great asset for the Mohawk Valley.
Mohawk Valley Community College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman David Mathis said, Too many years have gone by with New York losing jobs and businesses to other states. Thankfully, Governor Cuomos Start-Up NY proposal will allow cities across Upstate New York to gain a leg up on the competition for private investment, and will greatly increase the professional opportunities that our graduates can find right here at home. By giving businesses the opportunity to set up shop and grow alongside Mohawk Valley Community College and other institutions of higher education, all without paying state taxes for up to ten years, the Governor is fundamentally shaking up the equation. Start-Up NY will show the rest of the country that Upstate New York truly is a haven for jobs in the private sector, and the old reputation as the tax capital of the nation is a thing of the past.
Steve Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties said, Settling labor disputes that involve police officers and firefighters can be a complicated and highly sensitive process given the important services these officials provide. Balancing taxpayer equity and employee concerns is always a difficult process. As proposed by Governor Cuomo, the arbitration reforms for uniformed personnel will improve the process and help municipalities continue to protect the public's safety while balancing the interests of their taxpayers. This law expires in three years, which will allow interested parties and the Governor to evaluate the need for additional changes. I commend the Governor, legislature, and the police and fire organizations for working together to bring mandate relief to New York State's local taxpayers.
Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors said, Since 1974, the expensive mandate known as binding arbitration which was originally enacted as a two-year experiment but has been deemed a sacred cow ever since has blindly ignored the fiscal ability-to-pay of local taxpayers and arbitrarily inflated the cost of police and fire contracts in every region of this state. Thanks to Governor Cuomos leadership, for the first time this inequity will begin to change as arbitrators, in most instances, will be obligated to give taxpayer ability-to-pay the highest consideration, and also take into account the fiscal constraints of the 2% tax cap. Mayors urge the Governor and State Legislature to make this the first of many important steps toward overdue relief from state mandates.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, "Governor Cuomo is helping deliver for Oneida County. His proposal to aid New York's economically distressed cities includes the first reforms to our state's binding arbitration laws in decades, and his Financial Restructuring Board will offer expert solutions to some of the Upstate New Yorks most systemic problems. I am pleased to hear that the leaders of the Senate and Assembly have come to an agreement on this critical piece of legislation. I urge the legislature to pass it and deliver real aid to New York's localities."
Start-Up NY is an innovative game changer that puts New York at the front of the pack for jobs and private sector investment. This program will allow new and existing businesses to take advantage of all that New York State has to offer without having to pay sales taxes, property taxes, or business taxes no state taxes, period. Additionally, those companys employees will have their income taxes waived for up to ten years. Partnering with New Yorks world-class SUNY education system as well as selected private colleges and universities will also offer our students more opportunities to pursue employment in their fields of study. Not only will businesses seek to stay and flourish in Upstate New York, but so too will our graduates.
By putting the focus on creating tax free communities based around the states leading higher education system, the Governor is aligning struggling Upstate economies with a highly competitive environment that will ensure businesses come to and stay in Upstate New York.
For more information on Start-Up NY, click here.
Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act
Stimulating the economy across Upstate New York requires developing significant local engines of commerce. The Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act grants legislative approval to building four destination gaming resorts in Upstate New York. The addition of world-class resort destinations will highlight the states rising tourism industry, create jobs, and boost local economies. Every year New York has lost revenue to neighboring states with legalized gaming, but under the Governors plan that revenue stream will stay routed in Upstate communities where it belongs. Governor Cuomo also settled long-standing disputes with the Oneida, St. Regis Mohawk, and Seneca Indian Nations, ensuring that local governments receive the tax profits that are owed to them from the existing Indian casinos.
The addition of four world-class resort gaming destinations will greatly increase the flow of spending from tourism throughout Upstate New Yorks regional economies. The Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act will reverse a decades-long trend of outgoing gaming revenues and ensure that local communities receive the benefits they deserve.
For more information on the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, click here.
Upstate New Yorks municipalities have struggled with declining populations and property values for decades. Rising retirement costs have added to their difficulties, and these tough budget decisions have often put local leaders in a position of having to cut services and jobs. To address these challenges Governor Cuomo created the Financial Restructuring Board, which will work together with local officials to develop cooperative, case-specific strategies to establish a solid fiscal footing from which to operate. New Yorks binding arbitration laws have also been sorely in need of reform for generations. Governor Cuomo has ended Albanys tradition of looking the other way on binding arbitration by establishing a new ability to pay standard which arbitration panels must consider for 70% of their decision on contracts including specifically considering the requirements of the states 2% property tax cap.
The success of the Upstate economy relies on the strength of our communities. For the first time in many years, New York has a Governor taking decisive action to help struggling cities and towns avoid bankruptcy and regain strong economic foundations. By creating the Financial Restructuring Board and delivering badly needed binding arbitration reforms Governor Cuomo is ensuring that local governments across Upstate New York have the ability to dig out of their current fiscal holes and focus instead on improving services and quality of life.
For more information on the Governors initiative to aid distressed cities, click here.
The end of session accomplishments build on initiatives included in the 2013-14 budget that will help grow the Upstate economy:
Tax Cuts for Middle Class Families: Recognizing that New York's taxpayers have been overtaxed for too long, the Budget included $1.23 billion in new tax cuts to middle class families over three years. Families with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000 will be eligible to receive a new child tax credit of $350 per year, beginning in 2014.
Tax Cuts for Businesses: To provide tax relief to New York's job creators, the Budget includes nearly $800 million in tax relief for New York businesses over three years. With this tax relief, the Budget recognizes that cutting taxes sends a positive sign to the private sector that New York is pro-business and helps reverse New York's longstanding reputation as the tax capital of the nation. Hiring Tax Credits: To help New York's returning soldiers and young people find work, the Budget includes a permanent tax credit for the hiring of Veterans, and tax credits for businesses that hire youth.
Investing in the Economy of Tomorrow: The Budget provides the initial funding to launch the Innovation Hot Spots program that will create or designate ten high-tech innovation incubators at locations affiliated with higher education institutions to encourage private-sector growth. In addition, a $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund that will provide critical seed and early-stage funding to incentivize new business formation and growth in New York State and facilitate the transition from ideas and research to marketable products.
Building on the Success of the Regional Councils: The Budget includes a third round of the Regional Economic Development Councils including $150 million in new funding and $70 million in tax credits.
SUNY and CUNY Campuses Driving Private Sector Job Creation: The Budget includes $55 million for a third round of the SUNY 2020 program and $55 million to launch the CUNY 2020 program to provide competitive grants for projects that connect economic development and academic excellence.