New Tax Law Shows Cuomo Tone Deaf to Needs of Greater Western New York

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Many overtaxed residents of Greater Western New York looked at the 2017 Tax Reform Law as an opportunity to spur Albany into finally aligning its policies to make our state more business friendly. Our region has been particularly hard hit.

A December 28, 2017 report from Channel 13 said several Mark’s Pizzeria locations closed. A local stock market analyst said these closures were the result of the new minimum wage law which requires all fast food chains with at least 30 locations to up their hourly rate to $12.75. Mark’s closed just enough locations to leave it with 29 stores. Coincidence? The founder of Salvatore’s Pizza told 13WHAM they won’t be expanding because of the 30 store rule.

The new tax law reduces the subsidies provided by low tax states to high tax states like New York, California, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The thinking was this would encourage high tax states to level the playing field so businesses don’t move out. This is precisely what happened last April when Verizon closed its call center in Henrietta and relocated those employees to North and South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico, and Arkansas (per the October 12, 2017 edition of the Democrat & Chronicle).

It’s not like Verizon is a dying company. Granted, it’s in a highly competitive industry. It is, however, considered a leader in that industry. The New Haven Register quoted telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan in a December 1, 2017 article on the problems with Frontier Communications. He said, “The old telephone company is fading away. What it is being replaced with is new technology that will deliver artificial intelligence and virtual reality services to the home. These new technologies are coming and AT&T and Verizon are moving rapidly in that direction. Century Link, the number three telecom provider, isn’t moving as quickly and that is the same case with Frontier.” Frontier, which muffed on an April 2017 acquisition, had to lay off 1,000 employees last year, including some in Rochester.

The fact a leading company like Verizon can freely move employees to low tax states remains troubling. It’s not a new issue. The 2017 Tax Reform Act just made it a priority. We expected our governor to begin seriously thinking of ways to reduce the tax burden.

Instead, the governor offers a classic shell game scam. As I write, word is he’s trying to convert the state income tax into a payroll tax. We’ll still be a high tax state, and now businesses will be responsible for paying the taxes. Worse, this payroll tax will likely hit low income and union workers hardest. Unless, of course, Albany decides to tax businesses more to make up the difference.

This is simply going in the wrong direction, and Greater Western New Yorkers are starting to notice. The Wall Street Journal reports, “New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an outspoken critic of the law, is facing a split over the issue between upstate and downstate, where New Yorkers are expecting different impacts, (“A Governor’s Protest of Federal Tax Law Faces Resistance,” January 29, 2018). The article goes on to say the new law “could hurt affluent counties clustered around New York City… But it may help New Yorkers – many of them upstate…”

Disregarding the fact we don’t call ourselves “Upstate” anymore, the reporter has revealed Cuomo’s placing his personal politics (and possible 2020 presidential bid) ahead of the citizens of the Greater Western New York Region. Rather than look at ways to reduce New York’s high taxes, he’s only suggesting ways to increase them. Now comes word Cuomo wants to freeze the STAR program, leaving homeowners with higher property taxes.

There’s a world of difference between Greater Western New York and the Albany-New York City axis that runs our state. Not only are sentiments different (look at all those “Repeal the SAFE Act” signs dotting our region), but the economics are different, too.

Unfortunately – and lest you think this essay is nothing more than a partisan rant – we haven’t seen a worthy challenger from the loyal opposition. Indeed, it appears the loyal opposition doesn’t seem to have an interest in offering realistic and practical alternatives for the Greater Western New York Region, either.

So we’re stuck.

Until someone comes up with the idea to create a new political party.

A Greater Western New York political party.

Any takers?

 

Comments

  1. Secession!

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