Gov. Cuomo’s handpicked bureaucrats are just as afraid of sunlight as he is. Over the Christmas break, the Empire State Development Corp. quietly announced it’s delaying its promised report on START-UP NY by four months.
Since the program is a lumbering boondoggle, it’s pretty obvious that Cuomo’s pawns are busy sanitizing the report to minimize how poorly it reflects on his abysmal record on New York’s moribund economy.
Every year, 100,000 people leave New York state, along with countless jobs. Just a few months ago, the iconic Remington Arms Co. — a top employer in my district — announced the elimination of 126 more jobs.
CEO George Kollitides says the jobs are leaving thanks to New York’s “business environment, taxes, economic incentives, and state policies affecting the use of [Remington’s] products as well as existing infrastructure.”
The Empire State is crumbling before our eyes. Andrew Cuomo’s solution? Spend hundreds of millions in state dollars promoting himself and a scheme to attract new companies to university campuses across the state through generous subsidies.
His START-UP NY plan is to cost $323 million in state revenue over three years. The funds go for 10-year tax breaks on income, sales, property and business taxes for firms that meet the governor’s criteria of being high-tech enough, adding new jobs and locating near a state college campus.
We’re told it’s created 1,900 jobs — but those are “pledged” jobs, not real payroll.
Meanwhile, for companies like Remington and other long-term state businesses, it’s No subsidy for you! Despite Remington’s nearly 200-year history upstate, Cuomo hasn’t lifted a finger for the gun manufacturer.
Unsurprisingly, Remington has sought out a better business climate in Alabama, where it’s expanding its workforce and building a new plant.
It’s not just politically incorrect firms that suffer in New York’s business climate.
The much-celebrated yogurt maker Chobani is moving jobs out of state to Idaho and its tax home to business-friendly Delaware. Chobani, too, recognizes that taxes are too high and regulation too stiff to make a go of it in New York.
Meanwhile, the failure of START-UP NY is easy to foresee, given the record of past, similar ill-advised schemes.
Once the tax breaks end, those who can weather the mountains of red tape will have to pay the steep taxes that Albany expects. Many of those new companies will leave; those that can’t will either waste away or demand new taxpayer subsidies to keep going.
Even though state tax revenues in the state are up 63 percent from a decade ago to almost $67 billion, taxpayers have nothing to show for it but higher tax bills.
The state has fewer jobs than we need, more people than ever on public assistance and the dubious honor of a tax climate ranked 49th out of 50 states by the Tax Foundation. This is no way to run the state.
Instead, it’s time to embrace business-friendly policies that promote entrepreneurship and a sustainable path to create jobs that will stay in New York.
It’s actually not that hard. First, we need to stop demonizing success or the legal products people buy and make here in New York, like guns. Next, we need a comprehensive policy that makes it easy to start a business and operate it on your own terms.
We need to build a fair and vibrant free-market economy where the government doesn’t pick winners and losers. Albany needs to drastically cut back on red tape, slash high taxes and end the crony-capitalist schemes that squander taxpayer money.
Cuomo & Co. should get out of the business of distributing tax dollars to pet projects and favored industries. Bribery isn’t the solution to New York’s woes, reform is.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is probing the tens of millions spent last year on ads promoting START-UP NY, which many see as thinly veiled campaign spots for Cuomo. Here’s hoping the comptroller can clean up this mess with some much-needed disinfecting sunlight.