Local support shown
Some local legislators and officials expressed general support for many of the initiatives offered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State speech Wednesday.
Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said he was pleased with the Democratic governor’s shift in tone this year. Butler said Cuomo moved 2013’s focus on social issues such as gun control to a new focus on tax reduction and education.
“I think he returned to some of the more fundamental issues that we have, particularly in upstate New York,” Butler said.
Butler said the governor’s proposals could lead to improvements in the state economy.
“[We] get those in line, other good things start to happen,” Butler said.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said many of the governor’s proposals are similar to his goals as an assemblyman.
“We must keep our economy moving in a direction that encourages job creation and allows for families to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Santabarbara said.
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said she felt the governor’s address was a good starting point. She said his road map would be a good basis for the new legislative session.
Cuomo proposed creating a refundable credit for manufacturers that would be equal to 20 percent of a company’s annual property taxes. Additionally, to grow existing manufacturers and attract new businesses to upstate New York, Cuomo proposed eliminating the corporate income tax rate for upstate manufacturers. These two proposals would provide approximately $161 million in tax relief to the manufacturing sector.
Butler said if a company is considering building in a new location, the tax breaks would provide a boost.
Tkaczyk said it’s important to make sure the tax breaks would be handled delicately. She said it’s important not to burden local governments or school districts with the cost.
Santabarbara said the plan is a good step.
Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency CEO Ken Rose said the tax breaks would be helpful, but they aren’t a “be-all, end-all” solution to creating jobs.
“Obviously, any type of tax break or relief break … would be beneficial,” Rose said.
State Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, said tax plans like the manufacturer’s tax cut could jump-start the economy in an area that is falling behind the average job-growth figures of the nation and state.
Farley said Cuomo was trying to “stimulate the economy in every area he can.”
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, a Republican, said the manufacturer’s tax break is interesting, but he wants to see more details.
“I’m optimistic, and hopefully, [the tax break] does create more jobs,” King said.
The governor proposed a $2 billion “Smart Schools” bond referendum to “help bring all of New York schools to today’s high-speed, high-tech world.” If approved by voters, the initiative would provide students with new classrooms and leverage technology to transform education. “Smart Schools” money would be allocated to each school district.
Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Pat Michel said Cuomo’s comments about some schools lacking new technology is accurate.
He said the initiative would help upstate New York schools.
Considering state education standards encourage more tests to be taken on a computer, and some districts’ equipment is outdated, Michel said a grant like this “would be a god send.”
“Two billion is a heck of a lot of money,” Michel said.
Cuomo said he plans, through an executive order, to launch a pilot medical marijuana research program that would allow up to 20 hospitals to provide medical marijuana to patients being treated for serious illnesses.
He said this program will allow qualified eligible participants to use marijuana for relief for their symptoms in a safe and legal manner, while also evaluating the effectiveness of a medical marijuana system. Its findings will be used to help determine future policy.
Farley, Tkaczyk and Santabarbara all said they support the governor’s plan to allow use of medical marijuana.
Butler said he would like see the issue discussed in the Legislature rather than the governor enact the plan by executive order.