Cuomo committed to changes to process for sales tax breaks

By THOMAS ADAMS - 2/21/2013 3:51:55 PM

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is committed to narrowing the scope of industrial development agency projects that would qualify for state sales tax breaks, he said Thursday, without specifically addressing his budget proposal that would shift approvals from local IDAs to state groups.

“With IDAs, most of our focus is on bringing businesses into the state, and bringing new jobs in this state,” Cuomo said during a brief interview session with media members following a budget presentation at the University of Rochester’s Kilbourn Hall on Gibbs Street.

“However, we have to do it as effectively and economically as possible, because people are tired of paying more taxes. Some of the IDA programs give tax breaks to businesses, and that can be very effective. But I want to make sure they’re actually businesses that are bringing new jobs into the state.”

As reported in the Feb. 15 print edition of the Rochester Business Journal, a budget item in Cuomo’s executive budget calls for approval of the state’s 4 percent sales tax exemption to be placed in the hands of the state’s economic development councils rather than local IDAs.

It also would limit qualifying projects to those that qualify under the Empire State Development Corp.’s Excelsior Jobs Program.

In addition, approved projects would be required to pay the state tax and then be reimbursed.

Economic development representatives locally and statewide are concerned such a change would delay dramatically potential projects, if not eliminate them.

“We’ve subsidized the same business, and we just moved the same business from county to county, from district to district, from one side of the street to the other side of the street,” Cuomo said.

“I’m not interested in using tax dollars to move the same job around town, or move the same job from town to town. That’s what we want to stop. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. It doesn’t bring in any jobs. It doesn’t create economic growth. It’s just a boondoggle. That’s what these reforms are about in New York State.”

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