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Buffalo landlords protest potential perk for HSBC

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HBSC's landlord is looking to cash in on state incentives to stay in a Buffalo office tower.

HSBC has been talking about vacating its downtown tower in Buffalo and now the state might be stepping in to talk the bank out of the plan.  Jonathan Epstein reports at the Buffalo News that the owner of the building is seeking economic development cash to keep HSBC hanging around:

Stephen Fitzmaurice, chief operating officer of Seneca One, confirmed Thursday that the New York City landlord is working with Empire State Development Corp. officials, including Western New York regional director Christina Orsi. "We have met with them several times, and discussions are ongoing," he said. "Christina has been very helpful, and we continue to talk." Nothing has been finalized. It is also not clear what, or how much, the state would offer, or whether that would be enough to persuade the bank or law firm to remain in the 39-year-old One HSBC Center. Public subsidies could come into play for any move made by the bank, which is considering building a new office on the Webster block, in front of the HSBC Arena, as part of the Canal Side development efforts.

But downtown landlords are ticked off by the idea, reports Epstein, with some pointing out that there's little taxpayer benefit accrued from the investment:

"The wave of taxpayer handouts for development projects shows no signs of abating," David L. Sweet, president of Main Seneca Corp., which owns the Rand and Main Court buildings, said in a recent letter to The Buffalo News. "In none of these instances do the taxpayers receive an interest in the project, although they do have to chip in to make up the taxes forfeited. Usually no jobs are created, but the taxpayers may somehow feel a sense of satisfaction from their contribution to progress. In the meantime, downtown building owners are receiving a version of the 'death of a thousand cuts' administered by government agencies."

Forecasting the budget
Governor Cuomo is signaling upcoming increases in Medicaid and schools spending in next year's budget - in this year's budget, reports Rick Karlin at the Times Union.  The move should provide some stability to municipal budget planners:

The two-year plan was included in Cuomo's 30-day amendments to the 2011-12 budget which was due Thursday. The amendments traditionally include some fine-tuning but Cuomo has gone a step farther. The governor also plans to tie future growth in Medicaid and school aid to medical inflation and personal income growth respectively. That, Cuomo contends will add predictability and affordability to the programs.

Unemployment benefits
The governor is looking to extend unemployment benefits through the rest of the year, reports Liz Benjammin at State of Politics.  SOP has the bill text if you're interested.

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