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Most readers give Cuomo poor grades

An improving economy and highly publicized investments in the upstate region have failed to improve Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s standing among Rochester Business Journal readers.

Two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say they do not approve of Cuomo’s overall performance as governor. Two years ago, 56 percent of poll participants gave him a thumbs down. The ranks of those who strongly disapprove of his performance have grown by 9 percentage points, from 24 percent in January 2014 to 33 percent now.

The governor’s disapproval rate was highest among the 36 percent of poll respondents who identified themselves as Republicans. Seventy-five percent said they disapprove of his performance. The disapprove rate among those who described themselves as non-affiliated was slightly lower, 68 percent.

By contrast, 64 percent of Democrats approve of his performance.

Now starting year two of his second term as governor, Cuomo is slated to deliver his 2016 State of the State and Executive Budget Address in a little more than two weeks.

Under Cuomo, the statewide unemployment rate has declined from 9.6 percent when he took office in January 2010 to 4.7 percent in November. That compares with a jobless rate of 5 percent nationwide in November and 9.8 percent in January 2010. New York has logged employment growth in 51 of the last 59 months, though the rate often has lagged the U.S. average.

Cuomo has made growth of the upstate economy a priority. Last month, he announced another round of regional economic development grants and named the Finger Lakes region as one of three recipients of five-year, $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards.

However, many employers in the upstate region have voiced opposition to what might be a key element of his 2016 agenda: increasing the overall minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

Asked to grade Cuomo’s overall efforts to boost the upstate economy, respondents to this week’s poll were fairly negative—nearly half gave him a D or F. Fewer than one-third gave him a grade of A or B.

Some 560 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Dec. 28.

What is your opinion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s overall job performance?
Strongly approve: 7%
Approve: 27%
Disapprove: 33%
Strongly disapprove: 33%

How would you grade his overall efforts to boost the upstate economy?
A: 11%
B: 19%
C: 23%
D: 26%
F: 21%

What is your political affiliation?
Democrat: 18%
Republican: 36%
Non-affiliated: 38%
Other: 7%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here. To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at staging.rbj.net/dailyreport.

Comments:

He’s the Rex Ryan of politics—all bluster, no results.
—Don Palmero

He needs to lower business and property taxes to halt the exodus out of this state.
—Ed Rosen, Fairport

I think Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done an excellent job, especially as it relates to improving the upstate economy. He really has put “our money” where his mouth said it should go. It actually feels like we’re heading in the right direction. Now that both our Assembly and Senate leadership has been changed for the good, maybe New York State can once again be the Empire State.
—Peter Bonenfant, Fairport

Cuomo spends too much time making New York State appear it is good for business. Cuomo needs to support the businesses that have been loyal to New York State and not the business that threatens to leave or the business that he wants to bring to New York. High taxes, $15 minimum wage, workers’ comp, high regulation are a few of the things that ranked New York as one of the worst states to have a business. Cuomo needs to focus on reducing corruption, reducing government expenses and making New York a business-friendly state.
—Mike Hogan, Information Packaging Corp.

Upstate has asked for help for years and now he miraculously realizes we are in need of help!!
—Maureen Stover, Our Lady of Mercy High School

I am totally against his use of executive orders to get his own way. I believe it is unconstitutional except in time of true emergency. The increase of the minimum wage is going to be one of the worst things to happen to the low-end workers and teenagers in decades. I stopped at a rest area on Route 81 this weekend. The coffee/muffin kiosk that used to be run by a teen is now all self-serve and self-checkout (credit card only).
—Steve Cottom

The good news is Cuomo has at least stopped the state budget from growing three to four times the inflation rate, which was the case before he took office. The bad news is he accomplished that back in 2011 and since then we’ve been going sideways or down on every economic measure. Let’s be honest about the “Hunger Games” econ-dev grants—they are largely symbolic and will not move the needle on our regional economy. All of the mandate relief, lowered taxes and anti-business rules relief he promised haven’t happened, which is the biggest disappointment with Cuomo. Then he killed the prospect for 20,000 jobs and $1 billion of real investment with his fracking ban, and it’s one step forward, two steps back with him. Add the SAFE Act, which has killed almost 2,000 jobs with small stores closing and firearms manufacturers moving out of state, and we’re worse off now on jobs than before Cuomo took office. He’s great on flashy press conferences, but the bottom line is he hasn’t delivered on anything that is really important for upstate’s economy.
—Bob Sarbane

His sneaky passage of the SAFE Act and his negative decision on deep well and horizontal drilling earn him my continuing enmity.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

Overall, I feel he and his team have done a good job and are aware of the issues that face upstate, but I remain concerned about the $15/hour (minimum wage) and taxes. Taxes throughout the whole state need to be reduced, not just held flat. New York State, while known for high taxes, is also known for being a welfare state. My holiday wish is these areas continue to improve and the state becomes more competitive, dare I say a destination to live and do business in.
—Keith Newcomer

New York is first in high taxes, first in high cost of living, first in political corruption, and NY chokes the life out of innovation. Today, NY residents are leaving in droves. In spite of his initiatives and promises NY is still moving in the wrong direction. I give Governor Cuomo a D-.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Governor Cuomo’s annual “hunger games” approach to revitalizing the upstate economy is a good intention but misdirected. While creating competition to award creative ideas that the various regions have presented is a good theory, in reality it does not work for the residents of New York State. Yes, the politicians and leaders have their picture with a trophy, while other regions get $1 billion with no competition and limited oversight (which is now being investigated by federal attorneys). I do applaud Cuomo’s efforts to constantly deliver a balanced and on-time budget, but residents and businesses are still leaving in droves while nothing is ever done to address the real reasons why this continues to happen. We need real comprehensive tax reform, regulation reform, and mandate relief for our counties. Monroe County continues to have some of the highest property taxes in the nation despite the tax cap program that was introduced a few years back. We also have the “rebate” checks that are delivered to certain property owners for tax relief, but it is not transparent as to what the formula is to calculate these checks and the timetables associated with delivering them. Instead of the gimmicks, rebate checks and award presentations, let’s save all that time and money and refocus it on the real issues at hand. Let’s all hope that 2016 isn’t business as usual in Albany, and New York City where the governor spends most of his time. I ask all my fellow residents to engage with our government and keep up the pressure on our elected officials to demand a better future.
—Steve Brunette

Typical, you are damned if you do, and damned if you do not. That is the predicament the governor finds himself in; he has made some progress, but not nearly enough. We are still losing more residents than gaining, and no, he is NOT doing enough to eliminate the fraud!!
—J.A. DePaolis

Where do you start when it comes to Cuomo’s disdain for Upstate NY? 1) no fracking, 2) the SAFE Act, 3) raise the minimum wage, 4) hand out money to his supporters/cronies. Anything Andy “does” for Upstate NY is only lip service, or it benefits him and his future. Why not take all of that surplus money he is handing out to his friends (which the average person will never see) and distribute it evenly to all New Yorkers in the form of a tax cut??
—David Wagner

Just read an article in the NY Post that states 153,921 more residents moved out of NY State than moved in from other states from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015. There has been a net domestic migration loss since 2010 of 653,071 people. This loss is larger than any other state on both an absolute and per-capita basis. That just about says it all!
—Dave Iadanza, Farmington

The governor has gone to the Schumer school of political enterprise: pontificate in front of the cameras, make a big deal out of returning some of the tax money paid to the region that paid it, put blinders on (actually blindfold) to any reform that might upset the party power structure, ensure that downstate gets all it needs no matter the cost to upstate and Western NY because that is where the donors are. Cuomo fiddles while New York bleeds.
—Bob Miglioratti

The governor offers a mixed bag for Upstate New York. On the plus side are the grants, Finger Lakes region received $500 million to improve its business climate. Also on the plus side is the ban on hydrofracking, a victory for climate and renewable energy sources. However, on the negative side, state taxes remain onerous for both business and private individuals as is evidenced by the steady loss of population to states with friendlier tax structures. Finally, on the negative side is the corruption that is rife in Albany, and remains so despite the governor’s promises to clean up the mess. Overall, I rated the governor positively, but he has missed the boat on a number of important issues that he promised to address.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

My son once asked what the difference between a Democrat and a Republican was. I told him that Democrats take your money and spend it for you, while Republicans let you keep your money and spend it yourself. He then asked, “Why do you treat me like a Republican and Mom treats me like a Democrat?” Andrew Cuomo is just treating us all like we were Democrats. The unemployment rate cited above and credited to Andrew Cuomo is not the “true unemployment rate,” which includes all the workers who have used up their unemployment and have given up on going back to work. Obama and Cuomo have given us the slowest recovery rate in history at 2.3 percent annually vs. the average recovery rate of over 3.5 percent annually.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

He is a professional liberal politician that was born with a silver spoon and has no sense of what normal people go through every day. Maybe he should change his name to Snow.
—Mark Williams

The governor made promises about ethics and government process reform and has failed on both counts. His version of process reform is to turn economic development into a high-stakes competitive game and political version of the “Hunger Games.” The Regional Economic Development Councils are a very good way to get regions on the same page for selecting priorities. However, it’s clear that the state’s use of the new process is an annual game of “musical chairs” that leads to a few big winners and a lot of big losers for the various parts of the state. … Cuomo started the Moreland Commission to get at reform, which is out of his control. He then killed the commission. Perhaps the investigations were getting too close to him? U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara grabbed the gun on this issue and finally got some big game in the Legislature. Common sentiment is that there will be more people doing federal perp walks. Cuomo does have influence as a leader over proposals to change campaign financing and legislative redistricting that the Legislature needs to pass. He could demonstrate leadership by introducing bills that would address these long-troublesome, influence-controlled cesspools. Perhaps a Constitutional Convention in 2017 can bring big brooms.
—Bob Volpe, Highland Development Services

Governor Cuomo should educate himself on economics. When government picks winners and losers, the long-term consequences are generally negative. When economic development is highlighted by the government purchasing the land, owning the building and the equipment as was done in Buffalo’s $750 million Solar City project, it reminds me of what was done in the old Soviet Union. What’s really driving the economy is the historically low interest rates. The interest rates are artificially low due to questionable costly monetary policy by the Federal Reserve; but that’s another story. The governor should solve the structural problems of the state by demanding renegotiation of all state employee contracts, backing the implementation of right-to-work legislation, tax cuts applying to everyone, reducing regulation, instituting hydraulic fracturing, etc. There are too many resources in the hands of government along with overregulation. More resources must be shifted to the much more efficient private sector.
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.

1/4/16 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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