Lifton: There’s No Business Like Zone Business

Legislation passes Assembly that will likely bring an Empire Zone to Tompkins County
March 30, 2005

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland) announced that the Assembly and Senate passed bipartisan legislation relating to a comprehensive jobs plan that will expand and reform the state’s Empire Zones program and allow each region of the state to use its strengths to compete in the global economy.

"For too long Tompkins County has lived with an economic disadvantage in New York State because we have not had an Empire Zone," Lifton said. "Twelve new zones within the next four years will mean that Tompkins County is now in an excellent position to establish a zone. I will be fighting to get Tompkins a zone this session – helping us to attract new business and jobs to our community."

The agreement authorizes 12 new Empire Zones – expanding one of New York’s most important economic development tools. It also addresses some major abuses and closes loopholes to make the program more effective and accountable.

In addition, Lifton said that existing one-mile zones could apply to become two-mile zones, creating new jobs. The agreement also increases accountability measures in the Empire Zones program by:

  • establishing an Empire Zones Control Board to designate future zones and approve all boundary changes;
  • creating an independent report on the performance and usefulness of the Empire Zones program; and
  • requiring the state Office of Taxation and Finance to produce a performance report that includes all job creation information and the actual cost of tax benefits claimed by zone businesses.

Lifton added that under the agreement, the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation – a public benefit corporation – will be formed from the current New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR). Governed by a bi-partisan, 13-member board the foundation will fund up to 10 regional development proposals so that the local organizations and their high-tech partners who know their area the best can help draft a local economic development strategy.

To further make it easier for businesses to thrive in New York, the bipartisan agreement proposes business tax cuts totaling $213 million, including:

  • adopting a single sales factor apportionment, saving businesses $130 million in the third year;
  • increasing the Enhanced Investment Tax Credit for research and development, saving businesses $10 million;
  • allowing a small business rate reduction, saving businesses $5 million; and
  • enhancing the CAPCO program by providing an additional allocation of $60 million for technology investments.

"Our jobs plan is a major step toward restoring the 432,900 additional jobs the governor has cost us through failed economic policy," Lifton said. "The Legislature has invested in creating quality, good-paying jobs that will spur much-needed economic development. And I urge the governor to join us in moving this measure forward. "