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'DEVASTATING' EMPIRE ZONE REFORM STILL BEING CONSIDERED BY STATE LEADERS
|Albany, N.Y., February 25 –State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) said today that with just over one month to go until the April 1 deadline to have a new state budget in place, the state’s Democratic leaders are still considering an Empire Zone reform plan that would devastate local economic development and lead to job losses.|
“The Empire Zone program is upstate New York’s No. 1 economic development tool, and Governor Paterson wants to take it away from local businesses and manufacturers. I haven’t heard any of the state’s Democratic leaders back away from the plan, and that’s frightening. The governor’s plan is a rejection of the Empire Zone program, not reform,” said Winner. “The last thing we can afford is for a job-killing plan like this one to be approved at the last minute with very little public discussion.”
Governor David Paterson’s proposed 2009-2010 state budget would cut $272 million by taking Empire Zone benefits away from companies currently participating in the program. Under the Paterson plan, businesses previously deemed qualified for Empire Zone benefits would be retested to determine if they meet a new, higher 20:1 benefit-to-cost standard. The proposal would also eliminate the roles of local Empire Zone certification officers and administration boards in the current certification process, with the role of sole certification officer falling to the state economic development commissioner.
Winner said if Paterson's proposal is enacted, most of the businesses and manufacturers in his legislative district currently receiving Empire Zone benefits would no longer qualify.
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