Gov. Cuomo open to changes in IDA plan?

After After "passionate feedback" about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposal for the Industrial Development Agencies across the state, the governor is said to be considering modifying his plans. (Feb. 14, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is mulling amendments to his proposal for more state oversight of industrial development agencies after it was panned on Long Island and elsewhere, the No. 2 state official said Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy said he and other administration members had received "passionate feedback" about the IDA initiative from business executives, regional economic development councils and IDAs themselves.

Advocates for IDAs, which provide tax breaks to expanding companies, are worried about delaying building projects and less local control over them. If the governor's plan had been in place last year, they contend that hundreds of jobs would have been lost at IDA-backed projects.

Duffy said Tuesday that Cuomo could alter the proposal, which is contained in his 2013-14 state budget, during an amendment period that ends Thursday.

The governor is pushing for IDA projects that receive an exemption from the state sales tax to also be endorsed by a regional council, which he appoints. He would limit IDA projects to just seven business sectors.

"He's willing to take suggestions and feedback . . . Changes are being considered based on the feedback," Duffy told a meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

"What we don't want to do is take a step backwards with economic development," Duffy said. "What the governor wanted to do was make sure we reform the process."

The Long Island IDA Coalition, representing seven out of eight IDAs, is seeking a compromise. It would exempt IDA projects from state review if they've already been approved by a regional council or comply with the council's five-year strategy to grow jobs.

Separately, Duffy tried to cheer up the local council, whose members were upset in December when the Island wasn't among those regions winning $100 million each in state business aid -- as it had in 2011.

"I cannot think of anything you did here that would not make you a top winner," he said, referring to the $60 million awarded to Nassau and Suffolk counties in the 2012 aid competition.

Later, speaking to reporters, Duffy denied rumors that Long Island and New York City fell short of winning top prizes because the judges took into account billions of dollars in superstorm Sandy relief coming from Washington.

"I don't believe that was a factor in the end," he told Newsday.

"It could have been a consideration by some. . . But it was never discussed because there are other regions who have received substantial forms of aid from other [levels of government] as well that have either won or not won a top prize, Duffy said."

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