Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped in Western New York to highlight the accomplishments of the legislative session as part of a cross-state victory lap Monday morning.
Cuomo staged an event at the Burchfield-Penny Art Center on the campus of Buffalo State College where he was joined by politicians and other civic leaders from across the region.
The governor pointed to key legislative accomplishments from this session, which concluded over the weekend, as proof that New York state, particularly upstate, is moving in the right direction after years of economic stagnation.
“We have done a lot over these past two years, a lot of progress on a lot of levels,” Cuomo said. “You can feel the energy. You can feel the momentum.”
Cuomo promoted several of his initiatives — including the “Buffalo Billion” and the state’s property tax cap — but concentrated on Start Up NY, the initiative that will create “tax free communities” on college campuses throughout the state.
Both the Assembly and the Senate passed the legislation that will create the program as the legislative session came to an end.
The program’s logo was prominently displayed on the podium and on the table where Cuomo held a ceremonial signing of the bill surrounded by legislators.
The bill will allow start-up companies, companies that relocate to New York state and expanding companies already here, to operate with no taxes — including no income tax for employees — for 10 years when situated on or adjacent to state college campuses.
There will also be 3 million square feet of tax-free space that will be offered to private universities subject to a competitive application process.
The companies must “be aligned with or further the academic mission of the campus, college or university,” according to press materials from Cuomo’s office.
Cuomo defended the program, which has been criticized by some in the business and labor communities as giving an unfair advantage to the companies who participate, saying it will make New York state a desirable destination for businesses and create new jobs.
The state needs to alter the perception that it is a tax heavy and unfriendly environment for businesses, he added.
“When you’re talking about a tax-free environment and all the assets of the great state of New York, what could be better than that winning combination?” Cuomo said.Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257