Niagara Gazette

June 6, 2013

GLYNN: Cuomo's tax-free plan also has a downside

By DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — At first glance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Tax-Free NY” plan looked like a sure way to shape an ideal environment for a start-up business. After all, 10 years of tax-free operations sounds as enticing as anything an industrial development agency could offer.

 Unlike the highly touted economic development zones in many other states, Cuomo’s plan is the real McCoy. Or is it? Basically it would make available to start-up companies 120 million square feet of space at State University of New York sites and community colleges, and an additional 200,000 square feet adjoining each campus. Another three million square feet would be available at private colleges across the state.

In a weekend reporters roundtable on the PBS “New York Now” (WNED-TV, Buffalo), Kyle Hughes @ nysnysnews, a veteran Capitol Hill reporter, was concerned that the new tax-free zone could create a kind of second-class citizenship.

There is a valid fear, as Hughes explained, that the new tax-free sites — no sales, property or business taxes would be imposed — might even drive out businesses now operating outside those zones. The reason: They will still be paying taxes and won’t have the same advantage as those inside the zones. To compound matters, owners and employees of those businesses in the zone also will be exempt even from income taxes. Some people see that as fundamentally unfair, Hughes added. 

Another issue widely discussed in Albany these days is the future of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who has been sharply criticized for the way he handled sexual harassment complaints against disgraced Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, D-Brooklyn.

Many observers in state government, however, are quick to point out that Silver is too powerful, with firm control over committee appointments (extra cash for chairmen); lulus (an allowance in lieu of payment for itemized expenses); pork barrel (political patronage); additional funds for staffing; and the amount of money a lawmaker gets for a district office.) Who’s going to throw a leader like that under the bus?

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NAME DROPPING: During the past decade a number of schools and colleges have eliminated the names of their sports teams that were considered disparaging to Native Americans (e.g. St. Bonaventure, aka the Bonnies, was known for many years as the Brown Indians.)

Last month, Ray Halbritter, the CEO of Oneida Indian Enterprises, presented a $10,000 check to the Cooperstown Central School District for dropping the nickname ‘Redskins.’ School officials said the money will be earmarked for new uniforms in July when the school teams become the ‘Hawkeyes.’

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IN THE PARK: The Niagara Street Area Business and Professional Association will present its popular Concerts in the Park series, starting June 12 and continuing each Wednesday through Sept. 4. The June and July programs at Gill Creek Park, Niagara Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. The first concert Wednesday is sponsored by the Niagara Gazette. Additional information is available from Ron Anderluh at 946-1744.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Comedian Bill Maher will be center stage at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, at 7:30 p.m. July 14. It’s part of his “Making Back My Million” tour, an obvious tongue-and-cheek reference to his hefty donation he made to President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Overheard at Sandi’s Family Restaurant, 2065 River Road: “My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way” — a customer, obviously talking behind her back.

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QUICKIE QUIZ: It was the last tenant in the former J.N. Adams building on Falls Street. After it failed here, the company relocated to Phoenix, Ariz. (Answer on Sunday.)

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.