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Cuomo, Paladino square off on NY economy

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Good luck to the next occupant: let's take a look at Cuomo and Paladino's economic platforms, as they vie to take up residence in the Executive Mansion.

Gubernatorial nominees Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino both have proposals aimed at fixing New York’s ailing economy. And that’s no small task.

That’s according to Mark Eagan, CEO of the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce. Eagan pointed to the 2010 State Economic Competitiveness Index from the American Legislative Exchange Council as proof that New York is in dire straits. The research shows that the Empire State ranks 50th among the 50 states in economic outlook.

“Whether it’s for companies or residents, New York is expensive. The future governor needs to make New York more competitive to entice any development,” Eagan says.

Poughkeepsie Journal reports that people are leaving upstate New York in droves. The paper says inner cities are struggling and the manufacturing base has declined by 32 percent over the past decade.

So how are the candidates planning to handle the challenges the state is facing? Here’s a breakdown.

Cuomo released a plan called “New York Worksat the end of September. His platform focuses on business development. Here are some key points.

  • Create 10 regional economic development councils--The job of the councils will be to develop public, private and educational partnerships in their specific region. The councils will award state funding to the best proposals.
  • Focus on specific industry clusters– There’s a very strong cluster in the trade and logistics sector in Buffalo. There’s a strong cluster on high tech defense work Syracuse. In the capital region there’s a growing cluster in nanotech. The strategy is to capitalize on the strengths of New York’s various regions, and make them more competitive on a national scale to help recruit new businesses.
  • Strategic tax credit– A new “Jobs Now” tax credit will encourage employers to hire New Yorkers. Cuomo’s campaign is projecting more than 165,000 jobs would be created as a result.
  • Make private and public universities generatejobs – Cuomo wants to leverage the research and development at higher education to grow the innovation economy. The plan proposes to connect university researchers with entrepreneurs and venture capitalist to turn inventions into commercial products and new companies.

Paladino’s economic plan on his website doesn’t go into details. I called Paladino’s spokesperson Robin Wolfgan several times. Whe she finally ruturned my call, she didn't offer anything more. She says Paladino is taking things on a higher level with his big picture plans. The Republican candidate did tell the Associated Press that he wants to create good jobs in New York State.

“We want to have the reputation of a state that does not have a corporate franchise tax on manufacturers. You can come here and open a plant and not have to deal with an onerous tax,” Paladino told the AP.

Ken Adams, CEO of the Business Council of New York supports Cuomo’s proposal because he says the Democrat offers a lot more details that are more in line with the Business Council. He says Paladino fell short by not providing a comprehensive plan.

But Adams says piecemeal programs can’t repair New York’s economy. He says the business climate is so bad for growth, the only fix is major reform. He offered five to start.

  • Cap property taxes
  • Cap state spending
  • Lower the income tax burden
  • Reform public employee pension
  • Limit government borrowing.

“Those five reforms need to be enacted first to make innovation economy viable,” Adams says.
Both Cuomo and Paladino seem to have some common ground on major reforms. Paladino wants to cut taxes and spending by 10 percent. He vows to cut programs that are not benefitting taxpayers. He also wants to cut the state’s income tax on manufacturing and cut optional Medicaid by $20 billion.

Cuomo wants to cap property taxes. He’s proposing to freeze state salaries and says he won’t increase corporate or personal income tax.

The two front runners Cuomo and Paladino will join the lesser known gubernatorial candidates Howard Hawkins, Warren Redlich, Charles Barron, Kristin Davis and Jimmy McMillan for a debate tonight at 7 p.m. They will square off for 90 minutes at Hofstra University.

We will be livestweeting the debate tonight from @innovationtrail.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
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