Governor Andrew Cuomo has been crisscrossing Upstate New York pitching his latest idea for an economic recovery. That plan is Tax-Free NY, which would provide businesses north of Westchester County, with a ten year exemption from property, sales, and business/corporate taxes. Employees of the chosen businesses will be exempted from income tax for five years. The “tax-free zones” will be located on State of New York University (SUNY) Campuses and up to 200 thousand square feet adjoining the campus. There are also 20 state-owned properties that are eligible for consideration.
The first step in defeating any addiction is first admitting you have a problem. The governor has admitted that the state’s taxation addiction is chasing jobs from the marketplace. Instead of lowering the tax burden for existing businesses Governor Cuomo has created tax-shelters that will shield hand-picked businesses from the worst business climate in the nation. Why should state favored industries be given an advantage over the veteran business owner who has braved New York’s tax climate for years? Who is more likely to get those tax breaks a “green” industry or the plan for a family-owned diner?
Governor Cuomo is setting up a two-tiered business community where those who have curried favor with the government and those who have not. This version of corporate welfare will create a short-term solution for a select few rather than a long-term solution for everyone. This policy will reward the best lobbyists and the special interest groups with the deepest pockets before it will reward the Mom and Pop businesses must likely to board up their businesses. When is the proper time to come out for a fair business environment for all entrepreneurs? If taxes are the issue, and the governor has admitted they are, why not lower taxes across-the-board for all businesses?
The best way to grow the middle class is by allowing those who seek the American Dream of small business ownership to have a proper climate in which to foster that dream. Upstate New York residents are tired of the gimmicks that elected officials have been running out for decades in an effort to grow an economy that could survive the tax burden laid upon it by Albany. Since lower taxes are the answer to New York’s economic development issues that solution should be extended to all business owners not just those who can make Governor Cuomo appeal to his base.
The answer isn’t always sexy. The answer isn’t always a focus-group approved name, and a PowerPoint presentation the envy of college freshmen enrolled in their mandatory public speaking class. It’s time for Governor Cuomo to look at what is best for Upstate and not furthering his political career. Sometimes the solution is just as simple as leveling the playing field by cutting taxes for everyone and not just your friends. For the sake of Upstate New York I hope our governor recognizes this sooner rather than later.