New York Legislature

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb speaks to members in the Assembly Chamber in January.

Associated Press

A recent report from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows Upstate New York’s workforce is shrinking, even as gains are made in New York City and Long Island. Upstate’s lagging economy is hardly news, considering Albany’s failure to enact any sustainable economic development reforms. While the governor’s claims of Upstate’s economic turnaround are numerous, actual results have been harder to come by.

Evidence of the governor’s inability to deliver for Upstate came from a recent report released by the comptroller. According to the report, the North Country, Mohawk Valley and Central New York experienced a 6-percent dip in the labor force between 2011 and 2016. The Southern Tier is shedding workers at a 9-percent clip. These are unacceptable figures and stand in direct contradiction to the rosy picture being painted by this administration.

GIMMICKS WON’T GROW THE ECONOMY

The governor has based much of his economic development strategy on gimmicks and flash. The START-UP New York program was hyped as a game-changer, but despite $53 million in taxpayer-funded advertising, the measure has produced a paltry 408 jobs. The Buffalo Billion, touted as the golden egg that would revitalize Buffalo and the surrounding municipalities, has been fraught with missteps, underreporting, corruption and investigations. One of the governor’s former top aides, Joseph Percoco, is facing a corruption trial in January for allegedly accepting bribes related to economic development contracts in Buffalo.

The Regional Economic Development Council’s (REDC) competitions – also known as the Upstate Hunger Games – allocate taxpayer funding by picking “winners and losers,” rather than broadly offering relief to New York’s sky-high cost of doing business. Unfortunately, a catchy name takes precedence over sound policy. And more recently, another of the governor’s major economic development initiatives, licensing casinos around New York, has fallen short of expectations in the early stages of operations.

ASSEMBLY MINORITY OFFERS SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

As the only legislative leader who has owned and run a company, I understand that New York’s taxes, fees and regulations have put our state at a competitive disadvantage and limited the ability of job creators to succeed. 

The Assembly Minority has introduced legislation that would lower taxes, cut regulations for businesses, ensure the state’s jobs programs are more transparent and create a workforce equipped with the skills needed to bolster the state’s economy.

Upstate New Yorkers are growing tired of failed initiative after failed initiative. The comptroller’s report clearly demonstrates that there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done, and we must start from the bottom up. The state and its residents need more than superficial headline grabs; they deserve good jobs and a solid economic environment that supports businesses, families and allows for an affordable cost of living.

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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