Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. (D-Kings) is touting the job-growth plan that focuses on areas in greatest need and with the greatest potential for success – namely alternative energy and clean, green technology development and technology commercialization.
“New York could lose more than a quarter-million jobs as a result of this economic downturn. First and foremost, we need to stem the hemorrhaging of jobs, and we need to do it in thoughtful, cutting-edge ways,” Assemblyman Boyland said. “The state budget continues New York’s commitment to high-tech academic research and reaffirms our commitment to developing a knowledge-based economy as the best and most responsible way to get the economy back on track and make it thrive.”
The Assembly stopped an ill-advised attempt to consolidate a vital job-creation agency. In the end, the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) was spared from a merge that would have severely and adversely impacted future high-technology jobs in New York, especially upstate.
Empire Zones reform
The state’s job-growth stimulus plan also aims to reform the Empire Zones economic development program. The plan:
- decertifies “shirt changers,” and provides an appeals process to consider recertifying those companies that created jobs after reincorporating;
- provides a retroactive 1:1 cost/benefit ratio and decertifies those businesses that fail to provide at least an equal amount of benefits to the state in the form of wages, employee benefits and investment as it receives from the state in the form of tax benefits;
- establishes a prospective (post April 1, 2009) statutory cost/benefit ratio of 20:1 and 10:1 for manufacturers;
- limits the Qualified Empire Zone Enterprises (QEZE) real property tax refundable tax credit prospectively to 75 percent of real tax liability;
- provides the QEZE sales tax exemption only in those localities that offer the local sales tax exemption;
- limits the role of the local Empire Zone Boards to recommending businesses for certification; and
- sunsets the Empire Zones program one year early on June 30, 2010, so that we can immediately begin to design a better, less costly program.
“The Empire Zones program requires major reforms to get it back on track,” Assemblyman Boyland said. “As it stands now, it no longer serves its original purpose of creating jobs and strengthening local economies.”
The program was designed to be an economic development tool to create jobs and provide tax benefits in struggling neighborhoods. Loopholes in the program, however, allowed already-established businesses – as well as many that simply didn’t deliver on what they promised – to receive tax breaks.
The budget also rejects the executive’s proposal to eliminate small-business tax credits on alternative fuels and the Qualified Emerging Technology Company (QETC) capital tax credit, and enhanced the Empire State Film Production Credit by $350 million to encourage further film production in New York.
Funding restorations and increases
The budget restores vital funding cuts in the executive proposal; funding, Assemblyman Boyland said, that is critical to job creation in New York State.
Specifically, the spending plan:
- restores $4.3 million for Centers for Advanced Technology, or CATS, which support university-industry collaborative research and facilitate the transfer of technology from the state’s top research universities into commercially viable products produced in the private sector. The budget preserves CATS at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and SUNY Stony Brook;
- restores $1.5 million for Community Development Financial Institutions;
- restores $1.3 million to the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP), which helps entrepreneurs create new businesses and provides assistance to minorities, women and others interested in starting a business;
- restores $2.6 million to the Focus Center research consortium, which addresses long-term challenges in the development of next-generation computer chips; and
- restores nearly $1 million to Explore NY, a Department of Economic Development program to promote tourism.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need to do what we can to bolster and encourage small-business growth in our state,” Assemblyman Boyland said. “It’s vital that we maintain EAP funding in order to ensure resources are available to assist new businesses and help existing companies grow. And it’s also critical that we always keep our eye on the future and the business possibilities that come with new technologies.”