Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dramatic Policy Overhaul Needed to Renew Upstate

At times, I’ve been one of this Governor’s toughest critics – but not today. I believe Governor Spitzer deserves credit for recognizing the economic crisis that is gripping Upstate. His decision to give a “State of Upstate Address” put his bully pulpit to good use in helping draw attention to Upstate’s hurting economy.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the Upstate economy is on life support – some small businesses are literally just hanging on, their pain compounded by the fact that we are either close to, or possibly already in, the grips of a national economic recession.

The Governor outlined several steps – including using our tremendous SUNY research facilities as “incubators” for businesses to tap our state’s best and brightest minds, improving Upstate’s roads and other critical infrastructure and utilizing the State Police to help Upstate cities control violent crime – that we should seriously consider.

One area where I diverge from the Governor’s address is seemingly too much of a reliance on taxpayer dollars to fund many of the initiatives he outlined. I am concerned – and I’m not alone – in wondering how our state could afford some of his proposals in light of the nearly $51 billion in debt that New York is carrying – and that is a conservative estimate.

I think it’s fair to say that parts of Upstate have been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of high taxes, energy costs and job loss. In response to this perfect storm that has swamped Upstate, we should take dramatic, bold steps as timidity is not a cure for the chronic ailments afflicting Upstate. We can do this by enacting a property tax cap and cutting taxes on manufacturers and small businesses which drive Upstate’s economy.

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