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Think-tank backs Cuomo IDA oversight

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (Feb. 14, 2013)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (Feb. 14, 2013) (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal for more state oversight of industrial development agencies was endorsed Thursday by the Citizens Budget Commission, a Manhattan-based independent think-tank.

“While a small step, this action would help align state and local government economic efforts and restrict state tax breaks to the most appropriate projects,” commission president Carol Kellermann wrote in a letter to 212 state lawmakers.

Cuomo wants IDA projects that receive an exemption from the state sales tax to also be endorsed by a regional economic development council, which he appoints. He would also limit IDA projects to seven business sectors.

IDAs, which provide tax breaks to expanding companies, are opposed to the governor’s plan, saying it would delay building projects and erode local control over them.

Cuomo’s IDA initiative is contained in his proposed 2013-14 state budget, which lawmakers are now considering ahead of the April 1 deadline for adoption.

The budget commission was critical of the governor’s plan to spend more money on business incubators, investments in small technology companies, tax credit for movie production and marketing the state.

Kellermann said the state “lacks adequate controls or data to prove the investments are worthwhile.”

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