ALBANY, N.Y. — Republicans in the state Senate on Tuesday unveiled a package of measures designed to reduce taxes and regulations — and end the START-UP New York program, an economic development program created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The $44.5 million in advertising money used to promote the program would be “redirected” to tourism promotion” under the plan unveiled by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.
“I think we should be spending more on tourism,” Flanagan said. “I think there’s an exponential return in so doing.”
The START-UP New York program was created as a way to boost job growth, especially in the upstate regions, through tax-free zones near and on college campuses. The program has been criticized for its cost and the expense in promoting it and other economic development efforts on TV.
“They acknowledged that only 756 jobs that have been created,” Flanagan said. “That alone should make us take a hard look and say ‘do we really need this program?'”
The push to curtail or end START-UP has been telegraphed by Republicans and Flanagan over the last several months as they have grown increasingly restive over the effectiveness of the program.
At the same time, Republicans want to cut taxes for businesses by $495 million and create a STAR program for small businesses worth $275 million while also providing tax relief with the goal of boosting manufacturing in the state.
Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate scoffed at the Republican tax proposals, which come as Cuomo is seeking $1 billion in tax and fee hikes in order to close a budget shortfall.
“For 50 years the Republicans have controlled the Senate and that has resulted in higher taxes, more fees and higher unemployment,” said Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy. “They have stood by and allowed their Trump allies in Washington to take direct aim at New York’s middle class. We need real solutions to lower taxes for middle class New Yorkers not just empty promises and fake rhetoric.”
However, the proposals were praised by Senate GOP allies in the business community.
“Employers and taxpayers across Upstate New York have struggled under the weight of New York’s massive tax burden for far too long. The measures contained in this proposal will boost businesses so they can grow and create jobs in Upstate communities,” said Greg Biryla of Unshackle Upstate. “It’s no secret that New York’s regulatory environment places a big strain on small businesses. Cutting Albany’s red tape will free up more time and resources so small businesses can focus on what they do best.”