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Governor Paterson gave his annual State of the State speech, and although there were some of the grim zingers to which we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from him — “The days of running New York like a payday loan operation must come to an end” is our favorite — he mostly boosted the state (“New York is nothing if not a fighter”) and proposed new government schemes to get business going in New York again.
He announced an “Excelsior Jobs Program” to replace to old Empire Zone program that didn’t seem to do much. Using tax incentives, the program will shore up “targeted growth industries,” Paterson said, reclaim moribund urban housing stock, and “rebuild our manufacturing base to meet the energy standards of this enlightened age.”
Some incentives would be straight-up credits, like the “Enhanced Investment Tax Credit,” and some would have conditions, like the “New Jobs Incentive” that kicks in when businesses “maintain a set number of new jobs in New York for five years.”
The Governor also announced a “$25 million New Technology Seed Fund to create the next Silicon Valley right here in New York State,” and said he’d “deployed” something called EmpireStat to track performance “progress” in government operations — though he didn’t say what would be done with agencies that didn’t progress.
On the payday loan operation front, Paterson gave Lieutenant Governor Ravitch the job of cooking up a “Four Year Financial Plan” to encourage budgeting for the long term and “avoid unexpected cuts in essential services.”
He also wants a “circuit-breaker property tax relief program” that would key such taxes to household income rather than just property value, and claims this program would give “incentives for localities to limit property tax increases.”
Plus a state spending cap, etc. The thing is riddled with programs, some of which will unfortunately require the cooperation of the legislature. Unshackle Upstate is unimpressed: “Right now the governor is talking a good game… But this is just what we heard last year and last year we had the biggest budget blunder in our history!” But ex-Governor George Pataki actually praised the speech, calling it “exactly the right message.” Make of that what you will.