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Cuomo offers no answers for upstate

January 23, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

"Job growth in Upstate New York is sad and troubling.''

At least Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows the problem - because there are few solutions in the 2013 State of the State address.

The speech, a prelude to the release of the state budget, included many things: expansion of casino gambling in Upstate New York; creation of innovation hot spots to help grow new businesses; new ways to market tourism in New York; a longer school year; full-day pre-kindergarten for students in the lowest wealth school districts; changes to the teacher training and certification process, including a bar association type test for teachers; an incentive for master teachers; assault weapon legislation and a host of other items.

Rather than help Upstate New York, though, Cuomo's legislative agenda is just as likely to hurt upstate.

Consider Cuomo's proposed $1.50 an hour minimum wage increase, which he says will put more money in area residents' wallets. Business advocacy groups are already shrieking about how much it will cost small businesses already struggling to make ends meet in a state where it already costs too much to do business - and most business owners are likely to stop hiring at a time when unemployment in the state is already too high at 8.2 percent.

The other gem of Cuomo's proposal to help upstate is an expansion of casino gambling at three upstate sites. Cuomo says putting the casinos in upstate will draw more tourists to the area. A gaming commission would pick the best locations and revenues would be split 90 percent for education and 10 percent for property tax relief. The proposal isn't likely to please the Seneca Nation of Indians, which finds itself embroiled in a dispute with the state over development of racinos in Western New York. Not only will it take years before casinos are built, but Cattaraugus County and the city of Salamanca are still waiting for years' worth of gaming compact payments for hosting the Senecas' casino in Salamanca.

Cuomo says his 2013 agenda is the most ambitious he has laid out in a State of the State address.

For upstate, it's an ambitiously empty agenda.



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