Tax-Free NY Not For Everyone

May 31, 2013

Credit WAMC image by Dave Lucas

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been touring New York touting his Tax-Free New York proposal. Despite Cuomo's “speak, rinse, repeat” approach, not everybody's on board.

The governor has made appearances in several communities, beating the drum for his new economic development proposal, one that some argue isn't new at all.  Steven Madarasz, Communications Director for the Civil Service Employees Association, says Cuomo seems to be going in the same direction George Pataki did with the Empire Zone plan. Madarasz says the devil's in the details we don't have - and some we do have, like employees being exempt from having to pay income tax.

The Hunger Action Network of New York has a finger on the pulse of society - the agency's executive director is Mark Dunlea, who suggests the governor take the emphasis off using tax giveaways to lure businesses away from other states. Dunlea believes that in the end, taxpayers end up subsidizing what was given away as "tax-free" to others.

Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, agrees Tax-Free New York is a re-hash of the old Empire Zone program.  Deutsch says he has difficulty with the notion of unfair competition where existing businesses essentially subsidize competitors from out-of-state who in the end will put them OUT of business.

Jennifer Diagostino is Executive Director of the Buffalo-based Coalition for Economic Justice, which released a new report this week critical of economic development programs like Tax-Free New York.  Diagostino suggests more transparency, more public involvement, which Cuomo seems to be reflecting as he crisscrosses the state, rallying support for his proposal.