Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the regional economic development councils have been "a tremendous success," but more than half of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll do not share that view.
Of the 58 percent who disagree with Cuomo, 32 percent said they disagree strongly. This compares with only 9 percent who agree strongly.
Last week Cuomo kicked off round three of the regional economic development councils competition, a process that was launched in 2011.
Statewide, the first two rounds allocated $1.5 billion to support more than 1,400 projects. In the third round, $760 million in state funding and tax incentives will be awarded, Cuomo said.
The Finger Lakes council was the top winner in 2012 with an award of $96.2 million, bringing its two-year total to $165 million. Regional projects receiving funds include Eastman Business Park, the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation at the University of Rochester, UR's College Town project, the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology and the Midtown Tower redevelopment project.
Cuomo created the councils to help revitalize regional economies. In April, New York's unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, down from 8.6 percent a year earlier. Nationwide, the jobless rate was 7.5 percent versus 8.1 percent a year earlier.
Snap Poll respondents were split on Cuomo's job performance on economic development. Fifty percent said they approve, with 14 percent approving strongly. Those who disapprove strongly outnumbered those who disapprove only somewhat, 29 percent to 22 percent.
More than 350 readers participated in this week's poll, which was conducted May 20 and 21.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the regional economic development councils have been “a tremendous success.” Do you agree?
Agree strongly: 9%
Agree somewhat: 33%
Disagree somewhat: 26%
Disagree strongly: 32%
Overall, what is your opinion of Cuomo’s job performance on economic development?
Approve strongly: 14%
Approve somewhat: 36%
Disapprove somewhat: 22%
Disapprove strongly: 29%
We need to stop all the gimmicks and tax breaks for the well-connected. If Cuomo simply lowers business and personal taxes, we will have plenty of economic growth. Then we wouldn’t have to spend $140 million on an ad campaign to convince people that New York isn’t the most unfriendly state in the country to run a business.
—Todd Baker, Henrietta
What we’re getting is a high-priced PR campaign aimed at making us believe he’s doing something! But he has done nothing to impact or change the underlying structural issues (high taxes, stifling regulations and arbitrary kowtowing to environmental groups), which curtail responsible growth and economic development.
—Tom Zimmerman, FAIA architect/consultant, Z2 Architecture PLLC
We need to see more proof that this program/process is working. I would ask the press to continue to show us, the reading public, that the money is going to the right places and we are seeing improvement in our state economy like new jobs and better wages that comes with better jobs and new services that make New York a better place to live.
—Ken Pamatat, Creative Images
Read my lips: Taxes are too high. Any program that does not include tax cuts will fail in New York State.
—Dennis Kiriazides, retired
Cuomo knows what needs to be done to spur Upstate New York’s economy: lowered taxes, rollback of mandates, repeal of the 18a utility excise taxes, reform of the Triborough Amendment. He’s not pursuing any of them. Instead, we have endless press conferences and these “councils” that are orchestrated public relations puff sessions. The fact that Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy is in charge of them tells you a lot—Duffy has never worked a day in business, never created a job, and is really not spearheading any systemic reforms, but he looks good and serves as the governor’s cheerleader, so he gets the job done for the governor’s pollsters. Let’s just not confuse that with economic development.
Seeing as the government feels that they know better how to use the people’s money by taking it from us and giving it back to spend as they see fit, how about the people take the government back and govern as we see fit? This regional competition is nothing more than Pavlovian training to make us all lap dogs for Albany. Pet me, Andy, pet me.
I think the intent to promote and support business is a great idea. Do it by lowering taxes! I also think that from a politician’s perspective, the thought process is driven by maximizing political value. This program has to be “the golden egg” for Albany. Think of all the votes, payback, favors and lost trails of expenses $2.25 billion could hide. Do you really think that Albany is worthy of the task to pick and choose who gets the benefit of your tax dollars? I don’t agree with it to be legal or ethical to confiscate tax money to give it to someone else. If you play nice and support a party or politician with your business clout and money, well then, you may get the nod for some “stimulus.” If New York State had true intention to promote and support business, wouldn’t it make more sense to reduce the tax burden on all businesses by $2.25 billion? That would certainly boost business activity in all of New York State. The current plan confiscates tax dollars and allows our corrupt, self-serving Albany politicians to dole out dollars. That is not what I want done with my confiscated money.
The very slight improvement in New York’s economy is not enough and is certainly more a function of the normal economic cycle, coupled with artificially low interest rates and Federal Reserve intervention. Those in turn have helped Wall Street, which happens to be in New York. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke gets the thanks for that. I give Coumo’s policies and term so far a failing grade.
—George Thomas, Ogden
Gov. Cuomo can’t see the forest through trees. The key to economic vitality is low taxation. Upstate New York counties traditionally rank as having the highest real estate tax rates in America along with state income taxes, sales taxes, deed taxes, mortgage tax, utility tax, etc. Until the governor learns basic economics, upstate will continue to deteriorate over the long run. The governor should focus on reducing mandates, making New York State a right-to-work state, reforming public employee unions, etc. This is when the real change will happen.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
This is a joke, right?
For more comments, go to rbjdaily.com. To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at rbj.net/dailyreport.asp.
5/24/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.