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Details emerging from economic development hearing: legislators want more details

Senator Jim Alesi (center right) says there's "no substance" in the governor's regional economic development councils plan.
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Senator Jim Alesi (center right) says there's "no substance" in the governor's regional economic development councils plan.

Here's a rundown of some of the details that emerged from today's joint legislative hearing on the economic development portion of the governor's budget.

Regional economic development councils
State Senator James Alesi, speaking about Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed regional economic development councils observed that "there is no real substance."

Outgoing head of Empire State Development Dennis Mullen stopped him.

“There is real substance,” he noted, saying that plans are just in their development stages.

Speaking after he left the chamber, Mullen responded to a number of questions from legislators about the lack of detail in proposals with a more explicit call for patience:

“I don’t consider it uncertainty. The governor’s only been in office for 40 days. Come on. We’re talking about an economic development program that has the ability to be so meaningful and create so many jobs.”

Property tax cap
In an exchange between Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Heather Briccetti of the Business Council of NYS (which is resolutely in favor of the two percent property tax cap to create a better business climate) the assemblyman asked:

How many new jobs do you anticipate in a best case scenario with these economic development strategies?

Briccetti demurred, but the assemblyman went on to detail his concern that the cap could mean making a trade-off: cutting 10,000 teaching jobs (a figure that's up for debate), to create an unknown number of jobs that might be facilitated by a better business climate in New York.

Englebright said he was “trying to anticipate how we get our heads around these cuts,” which he also referred to as a “disinvestment” in our children.

Merging NYSTAR and Empire State Development
Marnie Lavigne, director of business development at the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, testified that reporting to both the New York State Foundation for Science,

Technology and Innovation  (NYSTAR) and Empire State Development makes her feel "schizophrenic" at times.  But she says the idea of merging the two economic development agencies has her concerned about the loss of institutional knowledge of NYSTAR, which focuses on high-tech business.

Can't get enough budget details?  Tune into the live stream at the Senate's website.


Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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