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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Greg Biryla
Unshackle Upstate calls Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State and budget presentation "a mix of positive measures and flawed ideas."

In a press release from the group, Greg Biryla, executive director, says that they're "encouraged to see Governor Cuomo remain steadfast to" controlling the growth of spending. He applauds the continued focus on the upstate economy and renewed commitment to the 2 percent tax cap. However, he said Cuomo misses the mark on by shifting property tax burdens to other taxpayers and the suggestion to increase the minimum wage.

Unshackle Upstate's press release follows in its entirety:

Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation advanced a mix of positive measures and flawed ideas.

Controlling the growth of state spending is essential and we’re encouraged to see Governor Cuomo remain steadfast to that commitment. Just as families and businesses are forced to live within their means, it’s important for state government to do the same.

Governor Cuomo’s continued focus on strengthening the Upstate economy is greatly appreciated. The $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund empowers local stakeholders to advance plans that will boost job growth and improve their communities. The governor’s commitment to keeping tolls on the Thruway flat is particularly good news for commuters, trucking companies and ultimately consumers. To avoid toll hikes in the coming years, we continue to call on the Thruway Authority’s leadership team to submit to an independent audit.
Governor Cuomo’s pledge to make the 2-percent property tax cap – which has saved homeowners and businesses millions – is especially encouraging. While we applaud the governor for focusing on New York’s property tax crisis, we believe that this circuit breaker proposal misses the mark. Simply shifting the property tax burden to all taxpayers fails to address the costly mandates that drive up property taxes.

We’re also discouraged by other measures advanced in the governor’s presentation. An increase in the minimum wage, before the completion of the current phase-in, is a big step backwards in the state’s effort to improve its anti-business reputation. Considering the state’s tremendous investment in infrastructure, we believe adding a Project Labor Agreement component to the design-build program will increase costs and reduce efficiency. This reform in unwarranted and we encourage Governor Cuomo to reconsider his position.

We will closely review the budget in its entirety and look forward to learning more about plans for the Brownfield redevelopment program – which has been a valuable economic development tool across the state – especially Upstate.

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