Working to Jump-Start Our Local Economy

August 5, 2004
I know our families are facing tough times here in Central New York. The cost of living has increased sharply and the governorís economic development policies have failed to produce the number of jobs necessary to sustain our local work force. As a result, more and more good jobs are being shipped out of the state and country. Meanwhile, big corporations are getting fat tax breaks while small-and medium-sized business struggle to make ends meet.

One of my biggest goals in the Assembly has been to stop this vicious cycle. Iíve worked to curb the outsourcing of jobs, reform the Empire Zones program, and get the ball rolling on the DestiNY USA project. Things need to change and Iím working everyday to make sure they do.

Stopping the outsourcing of jobs

I recently supported the State Financial Incentive Protection Act, which prohibits companies from receiving financial incentives if they are sending jobs out of the state. This measure also requires that, if a company has received state economic development funds and then outsourced jobs, it must return any money it received.

In an effort to bring more disclosure and accountability to corporations, I support legislation to:

  • Direct the Department of Labor to examine the effect of offshore outsourcing of information technology jobs (A.11613)
  • Require companies to annually disclose any tax credits they have received (A.11703)
  • Hold companies responsible for economic development incentives they have received (A.11681)

Reforming the Empire Zones Program

One of the chief complaints about the Empire Zones program Ė which is designed to give tax breaks to companies that create jobs Ė is that it lacks accountability. Thatís why I supported legislation to reform this successful program and held public hearings on Empire Zones to seek the best way to fix the problem.

The Assemblyís legislation would create an Empire Zone Control Board to oversee the program (A.9021-A) and:

  • Require comprehensive reports from both the Empire State Development Corp. and state Department of Taxation and Finance so that taxpayers know the true number of jobs created and the true cost of the program
  • Designate new zones based on a priority system of economic needs
  • Decertify businesses that simply reincorporate without adding any new jobs in order to obtain benefits

I am also fighting for additional reforms, including:

  • Requiring businesses to pay the median occupational or industrial wage by region in order to be certified
  • Barring businesses found in violation of environmental or labor laws from participating in the program
  • Mandating that certified businesses must pay for at least 80 percent of an employeeís health benefits

Moving DestiNY USA one step closer to reality

Before the governor introduced his most recent 6-week budget extender, I introduced legislation to help bring DestiNY USA to Syracuse. This legislation (A.11717) requires governmental review before the proposed DestiNY project could get up to $52.5 million a year in state aid.

Specifically, this bill will

  • Require a review by the state Dormitory Authority and a "major project board" that would ensure that the project has the ability to create 15,000 permanent, full-time jobs and 15,000 full-time construction jobs while itís being built in return for the huge aid package
  • Mandate that the developer of DestiNY spend at least $1 billion building the project and construct at least 3.2 million square feet of new, income generating space
  • Require the project be built in a brownfield and at least half itís square footage would have to be qualified for federal "green building" benefits because of its use of renewable energy

In the coming weeks, I anticipate working out the final details of the DestiNY legislation with my colleagues in the Legislature. Making sure DestiNY brings thousands of good-paying jobs to our local families remains in the forefront of my legislative agenda.

I care about our community and believe our best days are still ahead. Iím working to move us in the right direction Ė but thereís still more to be done. I wonít stop fighting until our families get the results they deserve and Central New Yorkers benefits from an economic boom. For more information on the Assemblyís economic development strategies, please check out the Assembly website or feel free to write, call or visit my district office located at 333 East Washington Street, Room 840 Syracuse, NY 13202, (315) 428-9651.